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Interesting predictions for 2006 governor races

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  • Greg Cannon
    http://www.centerforpolitics.org/crystalball/2006/governor/?view Sabato s Crystal Ball Alaska Outlook: Toss-up Every poll and sounding shows it. One-term
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 28, 2005
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      http://www.centerforpolitics.org/crystalball/2006/governor/?view

      Sabato's Crystal Ball

      Alaska

      Outlook: Toss-up

      Every poll and sounding shows it. One-term Republican
      Governor Frank Murkowski is very unpopular, despite
      his nearly twenty-two years in the U.S. Senate
      (1981-2002) and easy victory for Governor in 2002. So
      what's the problem? It's partly personality, partly a
      rocky economy and partly his audacious appointment of
      his lightly-qualified daughter Lisa Murkowski to
      succeed him in the Senate. It's possible Gov.
      Murkowski may not even run for a second term.

      If he does seek a second term, you can expect a GOP
      primary and then a free-for-all in November 2006. The
      Republican nature of Alaska may save him, but Alaskans
      have proven perfectly willing to have Democratic state
      chief executives in recent times. The Governorship is
      less ideological than the U.S. Senate or House, and
      people everywhere realize that.

      Candidates
      Alabama

      Outlook: Toss-up

      This ought to be a sure thing for the Republicans, but
      it isn't. Alabama is massively conservative, and
      therefore GOP-listing. Republican Governor Bob Riley,
      a former U.S. House member, ousted one-term Democrat
      Don Siegelman in an extremely close election in 2002.
      Then Riley did something few Reagan Republicans
      attempt: he sought a statewide referendum to raise
      taxes. Predictably, it failed overwhelmingly. In the
      two years since, Riley has recovered somewhat, and he
      may be a narrow favorite for reelection, but no more.

      Former Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore, tossed
      from his judicial office for insisting on the public
      display of the Ten Commandments, will probably be
      mounting a GOP primary challenge to Riley. In Alabama,
      God is exceptionally popular, and many Christian
      conservatives will flock to Moore.

      Due to this Republican division, the Democrats have a
      chance to take back the statehouse, either with Lt.
      Gov. Lucy Baxley or former Governor Siegelman.

      Candidates
      Arkansas (Open Seat)

      Outlook: Toss-up

      Republican Governor Mike Huckabee is term-limited--and
      110 pounds slimmer--after serving since July 1996,
      when he succeeded resigning, disgraced Governor Jim
      Guy Tucker (D). The born-again fitness guru-governor
      was, like Bill Clinton, a native of Hope, Arkansas,
      and may run for President in 2008 or eventually for
      one of the two Democrat-held Senate seats.

      For 2006, though, he is out of the picture. Huckabee's
      party is headed for a tough primary between Lt. Gov.
      Win Rockefeller, son of the late Gov. Winthrop
      Rockefeller (1967-1971), and former Congressman Asa
      Hutchinson, an ex-Bush undersecretary of Homeland
      Security and brother of one-term U.S. Senator Tim
      Hutchinson (1997-2003). The primary is a toss-up.

      The Democrats seem to have settled on a nominee: state
      Attorney General Mike Beebe. Of all the Southern
      states, Arkansas is arguably the most competitive
      between the parties, and there is no favorite in
      November at present.

      Candidates
      Arizona

      Outlook: Leans Democratic

      First-term Governor Janet Napolitano is the rare
      Democrat who succeeds in statewide Arizona politics.
      She narrowly won the governorship in 2002, but she
      appears to be in relatively good shape for her 2006
      reelection.

      No Democrat can take anything for granted here, but
      since GOP Congressman J.D. Hayworth, Napolitano's
      toughest potential foe, has opted out, the Republicans
      will have to scramble to find an opponent of real
      stature. Former Gov. Fife Symington (R), who resigned
      in disgrace in 1997, wants his old job back but will
      not be a factor.

      Candidates
      California

      Outlook: Leans Republican

      Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is the GOP savior in
      the Golden State, and while he is no longer as popular
      as he was with Democrats and Independents, he is still
      the favorite for reelection in 2006 as he seeks a full
      four-year term after his abbreviated, recall-generated
      three-year term.

      Democratic state treasurer Phil Angelides is the
      Governator's most likely Democratic opponent. The
      charisma-free Angelides only real chance is to
      polarize the California electorate along party lines;
      in a heavily Democratic state, that could produce an
      upset. But for now, expect Arnold to terminate Phil.
      Other equally underdog Democratic possibilities
      include state Controller Steve Westley and state
      Attorney General Bill Lockyer.

      Candidates
      Colorado (Open Seat)

      Outlook: Toss-up

      There's a wide-open race to succeed term-limited
      Governor Bill Owens (R) as he finishes his second
      term. Democrats hope they can persuade popular Denver
      Mayor John Hickenlooper to run, and Republicans are
      begging second-term Congressman Bob Beauprez to be
      their standard-bearer. A Hickenlooper-Beauprez contest
      would be highly competitive.

      Right now, Beauprez is all but in the race, while
      Hickenlooper will have to be drafted. If Beauprez is
      not the nominee, popular former GOP Congressman Scott
      McInnis would also be a relatively robust candidate.

      The Democrats' alternative to Hickenlooper is far less
      apparent. However, the Democrats are on the upswing in
      this state, having captured a U.S. Senate seat, a U.S.
      House seat, and the state legislature in 2004.
      Governor Owens was once expected to be a star
      conservative candidate for President in 2008, but the
      separation from his wife has cast a cloud over his
      prospects.

      Candidates
      Connecticut

      Outlook: Leans Republican

      The GOP is just plain lucky. In 2004, three-term
      Governor John Rowland (R) was found to be corrupt and
      forced to resign. Normally, such an event would lead
      to a party change in the statehouse at the next
      election, especially in a liberal Democratic state
      such as Connecticut. But, waiting in the wings was Lt.
      Gov. Jodi Rell.

      As Governor, Rell has proved to be enormously popular,
      sweeping out many remaining Rowland cronies and
      winning hearts with her gritty survival of breast
      cancer. Should she seek a full term, as expected, Rell
      will be the clear favorite.

      The only Democrat on the horizon who could give her a
      good run would be state Attorney General Richard
      Blumenthal, but he has not announced. Should Rell
      retire unexpectedly, this Governorship could easily
      fall to the Democrats.

      Candidates
      Florida (Open Seat)

      Outlook: Toss-up

      Jeb Bush will likely finish his two terms as Governor
      of the Sunshine State as popular as he has been
      throughout his eight years, and that gives hope to
      Republicans that they can hold on to this key
      statehouse.

      Any of three GOP contenders could end up as the
      nominee: Lt. Gov. Toni Jennings, state Attorney
      General Charlie Crist, or state CFO Tom Gallagher,
      with Crist and Gallagher currently running close in
      the primary.

      There appear to be only two notable Democratic
      candidates: Congressman Jim Davis and state Democratic
      party Chairman Scott Maddox; better-known candidates
      such as 2004 U.S. Senate nominee Betty Castor and
      Lawton "Bud" Chiles III, son of the former Governor,
      are not running.

      While we are tempted to list this contest as "Lean
      Republican," there are still too many unknowns. How
      divisive will the GOP primary be? Will Maddox or Davis
      find a traditional Florida campaign gimmick (such as
      work-days or walking the state) and catch on with
      voters? Will anything happen before November 2006 that
      could put the Jeb Bush administration in a less
      favorable light? Some early GOP optimism here is
      justified, but euphoria is not.

      Candidates
      Georgia

      Outlook: Leans Republican

      Our early bet is that Governor Sonny Perdue, the Peach
      State's first GOP Governor since Reconstruction, will
      be reelected in 2006. His stunning ousting of one-term
      Democrat Roy Barnes has been followed by the
      Republican takeover of the state legislature (not to
      mention both U.S. Senate seats), so it would be
      foolish to pick the Democrat.

      Either Lt. Gov. Mark Taylor or Secretary of State
      Cathy Cox will be the nominee of the once-dominant
      Democratic party, and there is still enough residual
      Democratic support in Jimmy Carter's home state to
      enable either to make a decent showing.

      Candidates
      Hawaii

      Outlook: Leans Republican

      One of the least likely states for a Republican
      resurgence is Hawaii, so reliably Democratic that all
      Governors since 1962 have had a D next to their
      name--until 2002. Republican Linda Lingle, who barely
      failed to oust an incumbent Democrat in 1998, won the
      open seat contest for the statehouse in 2002, and she
      has maintained her popularity during her first term.

      No prominent Democrat has yet emerged to take her on
      in 2006. But be careful, dear readers. Hawaii almost
      reflexively votes Democratic, and no GOP
      candidate--even a popular incumbent--is ever safe
      here.

      Candidates
      Iowa (Open Seat)

      Outlook: Toss-up

      Governor Tom Vilsack (D) apparently means it when he
      says he is stopping at two terms, so the 2006 contest
      in this "Purple" state (a state closely divided
      between Republican Red and Democratic Blue) will be
      exceptionally competitive.

      The likely GOP nominee is well known Congressman Jim
      Nussle. Our guess is that the Democratic nomination
      will go to Secretary of State Chet Culver, son of a
      former Iowa U.S. senator. The November match-up will
      be a barnburner in the cornfields of this highly
      political state.

      Candidates
      Idaho (Open Seat)

      Outlook: Leans Republican

      Two-term Republican Governor Dirk Kempthorne, a former
      U.S. senator, is stepping down. GOP Congressman Butch
      Otter will be the party nominee to succeed him. In
      this one-party state, it really doesn't matter much
      who the Democrats select.

      Candidates
      Illinois

      Outlook: Leans Democratic

      Democratic Governor Rod Blagojevich ended a twenty-six
      year GOP monopoly on the statehouse with his election
      in 2002. Considering his one-term GOP predecessor,
      George Ryan, has since been indicted, and the Land of
      Lincoln is now become virtually a one-party Democratic
      state, we rather suspect Blagojevich will get his
      second term in 2006. A former congressman, Blagojevich
      has presidential ambitions, by the way, although the
      state's junior U.S. Senator, Barrack Obama (D), does
      too.

      Oh yes, the Republicans...moderate Congressman Ray
      LaHood might make the gubernatorial contest
      interesting, but he would be giving up a safe seat for
      a long-shot bid.

      Candidates
      Kansas

      Outlook: Leans Democratic

      Democrat Kathleen Sebelius accomplished the
      near-impossible in 2002--election as Governor in
      overwhelmingly Republican Kansas. She has had some
      modest successes and is reasonably popular, but there
      is no such thing as a safe election for a statewide
      Democrat in the home state of Bob Dole and Alf Landon.

      The Republicans are a long way from deciding the
      identity of their nominee, but they have an
      embarrassment of riches--loads of congressmen, state
      legislative leaders, and statewide officeholders from
      which to choose. We'll just have to see.

      As always, we give a tiny edge to an incumbent who has
      not become mired in scandal, but if the GOP chooses
      wisely--far from a sure thing--this contest could
      quickly move into the toss-up category.

      Candidates
      Massachusetts

      Outlook: Leans Republican

      Amazingly, Republicans have controlled the
      Governorship of the nation's most liberal state
      consistently since 1991. This would be the equivalent
      of a two-decade run for Democrats in Utah! (There was
      precisely this kind of Utah Democratic domination from
      1965 to 1985. But those were very different times.)

      The latest GOP chief executive is the unlikeliest of
      all, a Mormon and former resident of Utah, Mitt
      Romney. Despite social views that are culturally more
      conservative than most residents of the Bay State,
      Romney won in 2002 for essentially the same reason his
      three immediate GOP predecessors had triumphed: Voters
      were unimpressed with the Democratic nominees and
      probably feared complete Democratic hegemony. After
      all, Democrats have virtually a one-party state
      legislature, and they have captured every single U.S.
      Senate and House seat in Massachusetts--the largest
      totally Democratic delegation in the Congress.

      So even though he is currently in a popularity slump,
      Romney must again be given a slight edge in 2006, if
      he runs. Yes, he has presidential ambitions, and he
      may decide it's easier not to follow the path Michael
      Dukakis trod, trying to govern the state and run for
      the White House simultaneously. Should Romney retire,
      White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card could be the
      replacement for the GOP.

      Whether Romney or Card runs, Democrats will likely
      nominate state Attorney General Thomas F. Reilly, who
      is moderate enough to be a real threat. Sooner or
      later, Massachusetts will revert to form and elect a
      Democrat for this vital post, too, so the GOP can take
      nothing for granted in 2006, or ever.

      Candidates
      Maryland

      Outlook: Leans Republican

      A battle royal is brewing in Maryland, where
      first-term Governor Bob Ehrlich will have to fight
      hard to secure a second term. Narrowly elected over
      unpopular Democratic Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy
      Townsend in 2002, Ehrlich has stayed true to his
      conservative congressional roots. But, Maryland is a
      liberal, Democratic state. Ehrlich's maximum vote
      share is probably around 53 percent, if all goes well
      for him.

      Much will depend on the level of nastiness in the
      Democratic primary face-off between Baltimore Mayor
      Martin O'Malley and Montgomery County executive Doug
      Duncan. While O'Malley is the unquestioned early
      leader, it is unclear which one will finally emerge to
      challenge Ehrlich, who has made powerful enemies at
      the Baltimore Sun and the Washington Post. These
      papers will join forces with the Democrats in a
      tooth-and-nail struggle to oust Governor Ehrlich. We
      may eventually list this contest as a toss-up, but for
      now the incumbent has a slight edge.

      Candidates
      Maine

      Outlook: Leans Democratic

      It doesn't much matter whom the Republicans nominate
      for Governor, especially since no impressive
      candidates have expressed interest. Incumbent Democrat
      John Baldacci, a former congressman, has a strong
      lead.

      Once a rock-ribbed, conservative GOP state, Maine now
      usually votes Democratic--though it is idiosyncratic
      enough to elect the occasional Independent or moderate
      Republican (such as its two U.S. Senators, Olympia
      Snowe and Susan Collins). But, a popular Democratic
      Governor has little to worry about in 2006.

      Candidates
      Michigan

      Outlook: Leans Democratic

      Here's another near-sure bet for reelection.
      First-term Democrat Jennifer Granholm isn't as popular
      as she once was, but it is difficult to see any
      Republican depriving her of a second term. Were she
      not a native of Canada, she would be mentioned
      frequently for the 2008 Democratic ticket. Michigan is
      normally in the Democratic presidential column, but
      not by landslide margins.

      Candidates
      Minnesota

      Outlook: Leans Republican

      Republican Governor Tim Pawlenty has had a reasonably
      successful first term, in part because he is
      business-like and he succeeded the irascible, chaotic,
      controversial independent, Jesse Ventura. The contrast
      has helped him to a solid position as frontrunner for
      a second term in '06. It is not clear whether any
      major Democrat will even run against him.

      Candidates
      Nebraska

      Outlook: Leans Republican

      The Republican party will decide the next Governor in
      this heavily GOP state. Governor Mike Johanns left
      office early to become President Bush's new
      Agriculture Secretary, and Lt. Gov. Dave Heineman
      succeeded Johanns.

      But, the Governor-in-waiting is GOP Congressman Tom
      Osborne, the famous U of N football coach. If Osborne
      follows through on his long-time plans to seek the
      statehouse, the election is all but over, and it will
      be interesting to see whether Heineman will even try
      to hold his inherited office. Should Osborne decide to
      defer to the new Governor, then Heineman will win a
      full term. This is an odd situation with few
      precedents anywhere, but football really matters in
      Nebraska (as it does in Texas).

      Candidates
      New Hampshire

      Outlook: Leans Democratic

      The Granite State has, more or less, completed the
      transition from hard-right GOP bastion to
      Democratic-leaning state, thanks to the influx of
      thousands of liberal Bay Staters. (Yes, the
      ex-Massachusetts voters want low taxes, too, but they
      have still brought their party identification with
      them across the border.)

      The surprise failure of one-term Governor Craig Benson
      (R) in one of the two states that permits just a
      two-year term was a warning to the man who beat Benson
      in 2004, Democrat Peter Lynch. But Benson was the
      first New Hampshire Governor denied a second term in
      more than eight decades, so the odds, and the party
      drift, are on Lynch's side.

      Candidates
      New Mexico

      Outlook: Leans Democratic

      Governor Bill Richardson (D) will win his second term
      in a walk--and then the 2008 presidential speculation
      will begin in earnest!

      Candidates
      Nevada (Open Seat)

      Outlook: Leans Republican

      With two-term GOP Governor Kenny Guinn term-limited,
      the focus has shifted to his likely successor,
      Republican Congressman Jim Gibbons. Only Gibbons can
      defeat Gibbons, but the congressman's loose tongue
      makes that a reasonable bet for the roulette table in
      Las Vegas.

      Candidates
      New York

      Outlook: Leans Democratic

      The twelve-year reign of the Cuomo-killer, Governor
      George Pataki (R), is likely coming to a close,
      whether he runs for a fourth term or not. Pataki has
      fallen into a deep pit of unpopularity.

      Complicating his task is that Democrats will nominate
      state Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, the Slayer of
      Wall Street Greed (or so the image suggests).
      Additionally, New York has become among the bluest of
      the Democratic Blue states. Governor Mario Cuomo (D)
      served three terms, and so has Pataki. Time's up.
      We'll bet on a Spitzer victory, regardless of Pataki's
      ballot status.

      There is some speculation that former Massachusetts
      GOP Governor William Weld would eagerly run for the
      Republicans if asked, but will Empire State pride
      permit a Bay State retread to get its top job? Sam
      Houston did it in the nineteenth century, governing
      (at different times) both Tennessee and Texas, but
      Bill Weld doesn't strike us as the second Sam
      Houston--not yet, anyway.

      Candidates
      Ohio (Open Seat)

      Outlook: Toss-up

      Republicans so dominate the statewide picture in
      2004's ultimate Presidential toss-up state that an
      analyst is tempted to call the 2006 Governor's race
      for the GOP right now. And that would be foolish.

      True enough, Republicans have three strong candidates
      in Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell (an
      African-American), State Auditor Betty Montgomery, and
      state Attorney General Jim Petro, while Democrats have
      a field of lesser-knowns, led by Columbus Mayor
      Michael Coleman and Congressman Sherrod Brown.

      But consider these factors: (1) After a lengthy period
      of GOP dominance, it may be the proverbial "time for a
      change;" (2) Incumbent GOP Governor Bob Taft is not
      especially popular, which will feed the desire for
      change; (3) The Republicans could have a nasty
      primary; and (4) The early reads on Coleman and Brown
      suggest that their performance on the campaign trail
      could be quite good.

      Naturally, there's a fly in the ointment for
      Democrats, and his name is Jerry Springer--yes, that
      Jerry Springer. We doubt the Democrats are insane
      enough to nominate the King of TV Sleaze, but if they
      do, their Buckeye goose is cooked. Standards in the
      electorate aren't that low even in New Jersey, much
      less Ohio.

      Candidates
      Oklahoma

      Outlook: Leans Democratic

      Governor Brad Henry, the rare successful Democrat in
      this deeply Red state, seems to be in good shape for
      his reelection bid in '06. Henry has been a mainly
      conservative, cautious Governor, and appears generally
      popular. So far the Republicans haven't been able to
      conjure up a clearly electable candidate to run
      against him. But we'll keep our eye on this one.

      Henry was barely elected with just 43 percent in a
      three-way race in '02, and it simply doesn't take much
      to beat a Democrat in a statewide contest here. Even
      GOP Lt. Gov. Mary Fallin, who conventional wisdom says
      is a weak candidate, cannot be dismissed out of hand,
      and if Republicans convince former Congressman J.C.
      Watts to run against Henry, all bets are off.

      Candidates
      Oregon

      Outlook: Leans Democratic

      Oregonians could easily see a rematch of their 2002
      battle between Democrat Ted Kulongoski and Republican
      Kevin Mannix, which Kulongoski won by three percentage
      points. Not much has changed in this competitive state
      with a slight Democratic edge, and at least initially,
      we'd bet on the same result.

      Still-developing primary challenges to both Kulongoski
      and Mannix, if they materialize fully, could also tip
      the November race one way or the other, depending on
      which party bleeds more profusely.

      Candidates
      Pennsylvania

      Outlook: Leans Democratic

      The GOP may try a Hail Mary pass to ex-Steelers star
      Lynn Swann, but we see an easy win by several
      touchdowns for first-term Democratic Governor Ed
      Rendell. The Keystone State can never be taken for
      granted by either party, yet the former Philadelphia
      Mayor Rendell is a respected, known quantity for
      Pennsylvanians.

      Candidates
      Rhode Island

      Outlook: Leans Republican

      Much like Massachusetts, Rhode Island is not a state
      where one would expect to find many Republican
      Governors. Much like Massachusetts, that expectation
      is wrong. The GOP elected businessman Donald Carcieri
      in 2002, succeeding another two-term Republican
      Governor, Lincoln Almond.

      Carcieri is in reasonably good shape heading into his
      2006 reelection bid, though the underlying Democratic
      nature of this mini-state should make for a highly
      competitive contest. Democrats might nominate Lt. Gov.
      Charles Fogarty to oppose Carcieri.

      Candidates
      South Carolina

      Outlook: Leans Republican

      The Democratic party is as bruised and battered in the
      Palmetto State as it is in any state in the union. So
      despite a mixed first term, Governor Mark Sanford (R)
      is a substantial favorite for reelection in 2006.
      Several little-known state legislators are being
      mentioned as possible Democratic nominees, and the
      main benefit to the eventual nominee may well be
      increased name recognition for a future run at
      statewide office.

      Candidates
      South Dakota

      Outlook: Leans Republican

      First-term Governor Mike Rounds (R) is a heavy
      favorite for reelection in this strongly Republican
      state. Rounds is well liked and seen as a serious
      chief executive, and the Democrats have no one with a
      chance to defeat him on the horizon.

      Candidates
      Tennessee

      Outlook: Leans Democratic

      The Volunteer State has been trending clearly
      Republican since the 1990s, but there is an exception
      to every rule. Tennessee's exception is Democratic
      Governor Phil Bredesen, a solid bet for reelection in
      2006.

      It is quite revealing that several top-level
      Republicans are elbowing each other to get the GOP
      nomination for retiring Senator Bill Frist's seat, but
      no heavyweight or even middleweight is in the hunt for
      the slot opposing Bredesen.

      Candidates
      Texas

      Outlook: Leans Republican

      What a doozy of a Governor's contest the Lone Star
      State has in store! Gov. Rick "Good Hair" Perry has
      had the keys to the Governor's Mansion since
      succeeding President-elect George W. Bush in late
      2000, but GOP U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison
      apparently plans to challenge Perry in the GOP
      primary. Already, the two are throwing Texas-sized
      mudballs at one another.

      Hutchison has a fair shot at dethroning Perry, from
      everything we've seen and heard, and if she can grab
      the big prize it won't be long before she is mentioned
      for the GOP ticket. (Is 2008 too soon?) However, as we
      learned in Texas during a recent visit, most political
      observers have placed a small bet on Perry to retain
      the crown. He got the jump on the D.C.-based Hutchison
      with many party leaders, and he has gone on the
      attack, even linking Hutchison with *gasp* moderation
      and *double-gasp* her fellow Senator, Hillary Clinton.
      (Hutchison once exchanged pleasantries with Clinton on
      tape--and in Texas, that is more than enough to brand
      somebody a suspicious character.)

      In most states, such a titanic intra-party fight would
      result in the party's defeat in November. Probably not
      in Texas, where the Democratic party has become an
      embarrassing, pale shadow of its once-dominant self.
      So far, only a defeated, one-term ex-congressman,
      Chris Bell, wants the Democratic nod. One wonders if
      he can hold his own in the general election against
      sassy, brassy independent Kinky Friedman--who is a
      hoot, and cleaning up on national TV.

      This race "Leans Republican," but the better question
      is which Republican?

      Candidates
      Vermont

      Outlook: Leans Republican

      Two-term Governor Jim Douglas is one of those
      mild-mannered, eminently reasonable, Republican
      moderates that--like its maple syrup--Vermont used to
      be famous for. Now it's better known for producing
      lefties like Howard Dean, and socialist Congressman
      Bernie Sanders, and liberals-for-all-causes Ben &
      Jerry, of ice cream fame.

      Still, Douglas sits well with most Vermonters, and he
      has an incumbent's edge for a third term. But there
      are no guarantees for any GOP candidate in this state
      anymore. Should Douglas opt out of a third term for
      Governor in order to seek the U.S. Senate seat of
      retiring Independent-Democrat-former Republican Jim
      Jeffords, then anything could happen in the Governor's
      contest.

      Candidates
      Wisconsin

      Outlook: Leans Democratic

      Democrats finally elected a Governor in the Badger
      State in 2002, state Attorney General Jim Doyle, after
      fourteen years of Republican Governor Tommy Thompson.
      First elected in 1986, Thompson left in 2001 to join
      President Bush's Cabinet as Secretary of Health and
      Human Services. Lt. Gov. Scott McCallum inherited the
      Governorship, but couldn't keep it, losing in a
      multi-candidate contest to Doyle, 42 percent to 45
      percent.

      In both 2000 and 2004, the presidential results could
      hardly have been closer (with Democrats edging Bush
      narrowly both times). This suggests the possibility of
      a competitive battle for Doyle as he bids for his
      second term in '06. However, the only Republican who
      would be favored to beat Doyle would be--you guessed
      it--Tommy Thompson. It's no secret that Thompson loved
      being Governor, and it is not impossible that he would
      run again.

      We�re going to bet that private life--which
      Thompson just assumed after eighteen years in high
      public office--will prove enticing enough to keep him
      out of the '06 election. If so, Doyle will likely get
      a second term, though it is possible that Republican
      Congressman Mark Green (no, not the doctor from ER),
      if he finally decides to go for the statehouse, could
      make Doyle sweat.

      Candidates
      Wyoming

      Outlook: Leans Democratic

      Here's a final, great example of why Governorships are
      different. Wyoming is almost totally Republican,
      having given George W. Bush (and native son Dick
      Cheney) almost 70 percent in two presidential
      elections and hosting a consistently all-GOP
      congressional delegation in recent times. Yet in 2002
      the Cowboy State put a Democrat in the statehouse.

      Governor Dave Freudenthal had served as the
      state�s U.S. attorney during the Clinton
      administration, but he was certainly not the favorite
      at the starting gate in 2002. The "time for a change"
      theme works even in near one-party states, at least
      for the Governorship. Congress has become highly
      ideological, but Governors deal more with
      nuts-and-bolts government, and ticket-splitting seems
      less "dangerous" for many voters casting ballots for
      the top state executive post (assuming the other-party
      nominee is not too liberal).

      Given the state's GOP character, a pro-Republican
      upset in 2006 cannot be dismissed out of hand. But
      early on, Freudenthal appears to be in good shape
      politically.

      Candidates

      � Copyright 2005 Larry J. Sabato and the University of
      Virginia Center for Politics
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