Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe (D) is limited to serving only two terms as governor. Beebe won first in 2006 and again in 2010 by large margins and will be leaving office very popular with a 68% approval rating. Despite twice electing a Democrat to the governor’s mansion, Arkansas has shifted fast and hard in recent years becoming a more Republican state (Romney won 60% of the vote), and as a result this election is going to be very competitive. Two Democrats have announced their intention to run, former Lt. Governor Bill Halter (D) and former U.S. Rep. Mike Ross (D). Several other individuals are considering runs in the Democratic primary. On the Republican side, the list is much shorter. Three individuals have declared their candidacies: former U.S. Rep. Asa Hutchison (R), state Rep. Debra Hobbs (R) and businessman and former U.S. Senate candidate Curtis Coleman (R). Hutchison ran unsuccessfully for governor against Beebe in 2006 and is the current front runner on the Republican side. In the few polls that have been fielded, Hutchison leads among all the Democratic opponents, but it’s too early to say he’s a shoe-in. Also affecting the top of the ballot will be the U.S. Senate race in 2014. Sen. Mark Pryor (D) is seen as one of the most vulnerable Senators facing reelection next year.
Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (R) was Arizona’s Secretary of State when former Governor Janet Napolitano (D) was picked to serve as Sec. of Homeland Security in the Obama Administration in 2009. Because Arizona does not have a lieutenant governor, the next position in line to fill a gubernatorial vacancy is secretary of state. As a result, Brewer was sworn in as governor in January of 2009. Gov. Brewer has been a controversial governor on issues such as immigration, redistricting and, more recently, Medicaid expansion. Her popularity has taken a rollercoaster ride over her tenure and it’s unclear where her approvals will be when her term ends. Despite growing Hispanic and Latino populations that increasingly identify with Democrats, Arizona is still fairly conservative. As a result, the field for the Republican nomination is growing every day. Of the candidates who have declared or shown interest, Sec. of State Ken Bennett (R) seems to be a favorite pick but he has yet to formally announce. Former Tempe Mayor Hugh Hallman (R) and 2010 AG candidate Andrew Thomas (R) are the only two individuals to have publicly declared their candidacies. Individuals considering the Democratic nomination are former Board of Regents Chair Fred Duval (D), state Rep. Chad Campbell (D) and Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton (D). Duval officially announced his intention to run in April and has already received endorsements from three former Democratic governors and is the presumed frontrunner for the Democratic nomination.
Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) is also term limited and will leave office with a reputation as a stalwart for the Democratic Party and liberal policies. During his tenure he repealed the death penalty, signed same-sex marriage legislation, as well as stricter gun control laws. His ambitions for the presidency in 2016 are no secret, and he is finishing his term with modest approval ratings. Despite not being overwhelmingly popular compared to other Democratic governors, his endorsement of Lt. Governor Anthony Brown (D) should be enough for Brown to secure the Democratic nomination. Maryland’s deep blue tilt should all but guarantee Brown a seat in the governor’s mansion. However, it is still early and state Rep. Heather Mizeur (D) and Attorney General Douglas Gansler (D) are also planning to run for the nomination. A Republican winning the general election isn’t likely, but there are still a number of candidates considering a run for the nomination. The individuals most likely to announce as of today are state Delegate Ron George (R) and Harford County Executive David Craig (R).
Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman (R) is term limited and is expected to leave office well-liked with approval ratings in the 60s or 70s. Nebraska is a conservative state and the next governor is very likely to be a Republican. The subject that is shaping the governor’s race more than anything else is the open U.S. Senate seat that was created when Sen. Mike Johanns (R) announced his decision not to run for reelection. As a result, there are two statewide offices open at the top of the ticket in Nebraska in 2014. Several Republicans are interested in the opportunities creating large candidate pools in both primaries, and Heineman’s recent decision not to run for the Senate seat has left the field wide open for both races. For the governor’s race, state Sen. Charlie Janssen (R) is the only Republican to officially announce he’s running. Others are sure to jump in but it will depend on who gets into the Senate race. On the Democratic side, a handful of candidates are considering but no one has officially announced because of the uncertainty surrounding the Senate race. Time is needed to tell how this election will turn out.
Massachusetts Massachusetts is one of 12 states that do not have gubernatorial term limits. Gov. Deval Patrick (D) will not seek a third term for governor despite being eligible to do so, and even though he had a rough first term Patrick should leave office relatively well-liked. It’s still early in the cycle but the pool of candidates stepping up to run has been small and the process has been slow. Two candidates have officially declared to run: Joseph Avellon (D), a business executive and former Chairman of The Wellesley Board of Selectman, and Evan Falchuk (I), an attorney running as an Independent. No Republican candidates have announced, but Charlie Baker Jr. (R) a health care CEO and former cabinet secretary is mentioned frequently. He ran for governor in 2010 but lost to Gov. Patrick by six points. Also mentioned is former U.S. Senator Scott Brown (R), but he has not made a decision and has also been eyeing the New Hampshire Senate race. In recent elections Massachusetts voters have elected Republican governors to balance out the liberal legislature. Before Gov. Patrick’s election, Republicans held the governor’s mansion since 1990. But with Democrats having a 3 to 1 voter registration edge over Republicans, unless a standout Republican wins the nomination, the next governor is more likely to have a D next to his/her name than an R.
Virginia The Virginia governor’s race is being held in November of 2013 instead of 2014, but it is one of only a handful of open governor’s seats this cycle and is certainly worth mentioning. Virginia only allows governors to serve one term at a time, and Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) is termed out at the end of this year. The race to become Virginia’s next governor has made significant headlines. Virginia’s evolution as a swing state and history of acting as an off-year thermometer for how voters are feeling about national politics makes this a marquee race. The Republican nomination became official two weekends ago when Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (R) was nominated by a state Republican convention. The primary for the Democratic front runner is not until June 11th, but former DNC Chair and businessman Terri McAuliffe (D) is guaranteed to win the nomination. The two candidates have left something to be desired for Virginia voters. Cuccinelli’s strong stances on social issues alienate key moderate voters, and Terri McAuliffe, who lost the Democratic nomination in 2011, is seen more as a national party figure, as opposed to a local in tune with the needs of Virginians. This race is going to be very competitive and surveys have shown the candidates taking turns in leading the polls. A component of who wins this race will depend on how disciplined that candidate is in advocating what he is for, as opposed to what his opponent is against.