Opportunities Abound for the GOP in Governors’ Races – But Can They Execute?

The 2022 governors’ races are largely set with Tuesday’s G.O.P. primary for Massachusetts governor in the books. Which party has an advantage heading into November?


The 2022 governors’ races are largely set with Tuesday’s GOP primary for Massachusetts governor in the books. With barely two months to go until the midterm elections, which party has an advantage heading into November?

  • Thirty-six governors’ races are on the ballot in 2022. Republicans are defending 20 governor’s mansions compared to Democrats’ 16 governorships.
  • Republicans are in good shape in several traditional swing states. If Ron DeSantis (Florida), Brian Kemp (Georgia), Chris Sununu (New Hampshire), Mike DeWine (Ohio), Kim Reynolds (Iowa), or Greg Abbott (Texas) lose in November, something has gone very wrong for Republicans.
  • Seven first-term Democratic governors are in danger of losing reelection: Laura Kelly (Kansas), Janet Mills (Maine), Gretchen Whitmer (Michigan), Tim Walz (Minnesota), Steve Sisolak (Nevada), Michelle Lujan Grisham (New Mexico), and Tony Evers (Wisconsin). Some of these (e.g., Walz or Whitmer) will probably survive, but all seven could lose in a red tsunami.
  • Three open seats are intensely competitive Republican-held Arizona and Democratic-held Oregon and Pennsylvania.
    • Republicans nominated two largely untested Trump-backed outsiders – Doug Mastriano in Pennsylvania and Kari Lake in Arizona – to run against established Democratic statewide officials.
    • Oregon’s chaotic three-way race is anybody’s game.
  • Republicans are likely to give up two states with outgoing moderate GOP governors: Massachusetts and Maryland.
    • Both states are solidly Democratic but have been open to electing moderate Republicans.
    • Instead, the two states’ Republican electorates opted for Trump-backed candidates, making Democrats the odds-on favorites in both states.
    • Next door in deep-blue Vermont, centrist GOP Gov. Phil Scott is expected to cruise to reelection.
  • Democrats are safe bets to pick up two seats but have seven incumbents and two open seats to defend, with more states vulnerable if the environment further turns against President Joe Biden and his party. Democrats have emphasized abortion since Roe’s end – will it be enough to save their vulnerable incumbents?
  • Republicans have plenty of offensive territory, but their voters saddled the party with polarizing firebrands, poor fundraisers – or both – in key states, making the GOP’s task much more difficult. Republicans have plenty of opportunities to pick up seats – but can they execute?


reporting from the left side of the aisle


  • The New York Times reported Democrats are growing “increasingly pessimistic” about Stacey Abrams’ ability to defeat Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp. Abrams has lost ground in polls with black men and shown little ability to appeal to moderate Republicans.
  • CNN called Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, the Democratic nominee for governor, “the next big Democratic star (you haven’t heard of yet).” Healey is “heavily favored” to win in November and would be the first openly lesbian governor of a U.S. state.
  • POLITICO reported Democrats are looking strong in traditional Midwest battleground states like Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin, but Republicans are convinced they can expand the map westward by holding Arizona and flipping the governor’s mansions in Oregon, New Mexico, and Nevada.



  • FOX News got Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp’s response to the New York Times article about the “alleged struggles” of his opponent Stacey Abrams. Kemp told Fox News Abrams’ status as a leader of the Democratic Party is “starting to fracture now” because “she’s kind of lost touch” with “the values that Georgians share.”
  • National Review profiled Christine Drazan, the Republican nominee for Governor of Oregon. Drazan has a real shot of becoming the first Republican to win a gubernatorial election in Oregon since 1982, in part thanks to the “masterclass” she’s running on “how to run as a pro-life Republican in a deep-blue state.”
  • Breitbart reported Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly – the most vulnerable Democratic incumbent up this cycle – is ducking debates. Kelly turned down three debate invitations, including one from the NAACP, while GOP challenger Derek Schmidt accepted all three in addition to the two previously-scheduled debates.

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© Dominic Moore, 2022