| And now, da govs. Same story here as in my just-posted senate diary. A general hat tip to Shamlet for his helpful comments on a host of races, Boston Patriot on Florida and Massachusetts, and a specific hat-tip to go-big red state on his in-depth Nebraska knowledge.
You'd think that, given the 2010 we had, Republicans would be fresh out of pick-up opportunities, but there are at least a few Democratic seats which could be on the table in a good year. On the other hand, the RGA will have a lot of incumbents to defend. As problems go, that's a good one, but it makes the list of competitive races in 2014 very long.
Alabama. All the action here is likely to be in the primary, as both Tim James and Bradley Byrne seem to be spoiling for a rematch with Governor Robert Bentley. Bentley's been cozy with the teacher's unions in Alabama, and so is probably vulnerable on his right flank, absent Huckabee swooping in to save him again. There are also rumblings of a possible Bentley retirement, which would shake things up even more.
. Arizona. This is a guaranteed open-seat race, thanks to AZ term limits on Jan Brewer. AZ Secretary of State Ken Bennett has reportedly filed paper-work to form an exploratory committee, but I'd be shocked if he has this race to himself in the end. Treasurer Dean Martin is a possible, particularly given the fact that he ran for the office in 2010. For Democrats, Tempe mayor Neil Giuliano is a rumored candidate, and 2010 nominee and former Attorney General Terry Goddard can't be ruled out.
Florida. Rick Scott may face a primary from either Ag. commissioner Adam Putnam or state CFO Jeff Atwater. His poll numbers have recovered from their low-water mark in 2011 and early 2012, but both men are seen to be ambitious, and one of them might figure his odds are better in 2014 than in a crowded 2018 primary. will probably face either Charlie Crist or his 2010 opponent, Alex Sink. Scott seems to have recovered from his terrible approval ratings earlier in the year, but this one will probably still be a jump-ball.
Georgia. Continuing the streak of southern governors who could face primaries (see AL above), I've heard rumblings of discontent with NathanDeal in Georgia. Could Secretary of State Karen Handel be interested in a rematch? If they don't pan out, Republicans will probably keep this one. In fact, they'll probably keep this one even if there is a primary challenge.
Idaho. Given the recent failure of education super-intendent Tom Luna's reform package, it's possible governor Butch Otter calls it quits. In this scenario, Luna might run, or congressman Mike Simpson could consider a run. Congressman Raul Labrador would also be a potential wild card in this scenario.
Iowa. PPP showed Terry Branstad in the low forties against several Democrats, and trailing Tom Vilsak. If any big names run, this could be a hotly-contested race, though Branstad is a household name and won pretty convincingly in 2010.
Maine. This is probably the toughest hold for team red in 2014. PPP shows independent Eliott Cutler winning a three-way rematch, and Governor Paul LePage far under water. I wouldn't entirely count out the scrappy former mayor of Waterville, but it's going to be very uphill.
Michigan. Rick Snyder's emergency manager law makes it almost guaranteed he'll face strong Democratic opposition. Gretchen Witmer seems to be the net-roots darling de jure, but I'd bet on the Democratic establishment to rally around Gary Peters.
Nebraska. Dave Heineman is the second Republican incumbent to face term limits in 2014. Lieutenant Governor Rick Sheehy has apparently already declared for the seat, but won't have the primary to himself. The most likely Republican to challenge Sheehy would be current Speaker of the Legislature Mike Flood. This could set up a proxy-battle between Flood and Heineman, who has already endorsed Sheehy. For Democrats, State Senator Steve Lathrop and outgoing University of Nebraska Regent Chuck Hassebrook have been mentioned, but as was noted in a front page story in the Lincoln Journal-Star yesterday, Deb Fischer's blowout win over Kerrey in the Senate race make things look pretty daunting for Democrats in the near future.
Nevada. Brian Sandoval could face either Catherine Cortez Masto or Ross Miller, but if it looks like he's safe (spoiler alert: right now, it does), these two heavy-weights might take a pass.
New Mexico. Susana Martinez has very strong approval ratings, and has to be a favorite against either Attorney General Gary King or auditor Hector Balderas.
Ohio. John Kasich is going to get a sharp challenge, for governing conservatively in a swing state. Democrats could run former governor Ted Strickland again, ex-AG and current consumer protection bureau chief Richard Cordray, Congressman Tim Ryan or Cuyahoga County Executive Ed Fitzgerald.
Pennsylvania. Democrats will take heart in Tom Corbett's underwhelming poll numbers, and probably ignore the fact that a lot of this comes from disaffected Republicans. Bluntly put, this is probably not going to be Democrats best pick-up opportunity, as Pennsylvania loves it's incumbent governors and Corbett has been pretty moderate. I'd expect a Democratic county-level official to make the race here. There are rumblings of a primary challenger from Corbett's right, but given the strength of the Pennsylvania Republican machine, it's hard to imagine such a challenger getting much traction. Still, stranger things have happened in Pennsylvania politics.
South Carolina. The action here is likely, once again, to be in the Republican primary, if at all. Establishment Republicans remain unhappy with Nikki Haley, and I wouldn't be surprised if one of them takes a shot at a primary challenge.
Texas. Rick Perry is considering running for a fourth term, and is likely to see another contested primary if he does. Attorney General Greg Abbott is a likely candidate. Democrats will run someone credible, crow about their possible chances of finally turning Texas blue...and probably lose. That said, if Perry does win a primary, he could have a tough time against someone like Houston mayor Bill White. I wouldn't be surprised to see Democrats try to get San Antonio mayor Julian Castro into the race, but seriously doubt he could win statewide.
Wisconsin. Will Democrats go for Tom Barrett a third time against Scott Walker? I doubt it; my guess is that pressure will be on Rep. Ron Kind to run.
Arkansas. Mike Beebe, one of the most popular Democrats left in the south, is retiring here. I think Dustin McDaniel is the most likely candidate here for Democrats, and retired Representative Mike Ross may also run. For Republicans, LG Mark Darr and Land Commissioner John Thurston seem likely, and Congressman Tim Griffin could be interested.
California. Republicans are pretty unlikely to find a strong candidate here, given how poorly we've faired in previous cycles. For Republicans to win statewide in California, there will probably need to be some massive political earthquake. Jerry Brown, however, is on retirement watch. If he does call it quits, L.A. mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, current Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom and Attorney General Camala Harris are all possibilities.
Colorado. John Hickenlooper seems popular and may be difficult to dislodge, but Josh Penry, former LG Jane Norton, Congressman Mike Kaufmann and Attorney General John Suthers are our bench again. Given Suthers' reluctance to run for senate, he might be a possible candidate against Hickenlooper. However, I could also see him bowing out of the uphill race, and waiting for 2018.
Connecticut. Given Dan Malloy's unpopularity, this may be one of Republicans' best pick-up opportunities, and expect 2010 nominee Tom Foley to run again. Foley came close last time, and might reasonably hope for a different outcome in 2014.
Hawaii: Neil Abercrombi is extremely unpopular, and could potentially face a primary challenge. Republicans' entire bench here is named Linda Lingle, although Charles Djou, who has run two quality congressional campaigns in a tough district, is a possible runningmate.
Illinois. In 2010, Pat Quinn was possibly the luckiest Democrat in the country, squeaking bye in a primary, then narrowly defeating his Republican opponent in the general. Republicans will be mounting a strong challenge, probably either in the person of state treasurer Dan Rutherford or congressman Aaron Schock. There may well also be a primary challenge to Quinn.
Maryland. Martin O'Malley is term limited, and will almost certainly do everything in his power to get a sympathetic successor, since he's running for President in 2016. Democratic potentials include LG Anthony Brown, AG Doug Gansler and State Controller Peter Franchot. Frederick Board Chair Blaine Young seems interested for Republicans, but our best opportunity here may be for Franchot to win the primary.
Massachusetts. What are the odds Scott Brown doesn't run for this open seat? Tim Murray is the Democrat most frequently mentioned here, but treasurer Steve Gross, state Senator Dan Wolf of the Cape, and Attorney General Martha Coakley. Brown's best bet here is probably a clown-car primary which splits along regional lines; Democrats want Patrick to retire early, thus clearing the way for Murray to run as an incumbent.
Minnesota. Mark Dayton's somewhat underwhelming win in 2010 means he'll probably be targeted again in 2014. Dayton's approval ratings are high at the moment, but I wouldn't be surprised to see them come down a bit. Dayton has a history of somewhat erratic behavior, and for a former Senator, his narrow win over uber-conservative state representative Tom Emmer in 2010 should be a red flag for Democrats. Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson is considering, but may not have the race to himself. State senators Dave Thompson and Julie Rosen, state rep. Sarah Anderson and Hennepin County sheriff Rich Stanek are all names that have been floated. The joker in the deck will be the Independence Party, which may put up a strong challenge again in 2014.
New Hampshire. If you think you've just seen this movie...that's because New Hampshire has a two-year term for governor, like neighboring Vermont. Unlike Vermont, this race could potentially be competitive, if Republicans can find the right candidate against newly-elected governor Maggie Hassan. The issue for Republicans, again, is our seemingly thin bench.
Oregon. Like Senator Jeff Merkley, John Kitzhaber won his last election very narrowly, and is in the mid forties against potential challengers per PPP. Congressman Greg Walden, co-speaker of the state house Bruce Hanna, state Senator Jason Atkinson and party chairman Allen Alley look like our potentials here as well, since Chris Dudley has moved out of state.
Rhode Island. Lincoln Chafee's reelect numbers are currently at an awe-inspiringly low 18%, and the three-way field is likely to be interesting. Democrats already have a candidate here in state auditor Bruce Almonte, and other potentials include general treasure Gena Raimondo and Providence mayor Angel Taveras. For Republicans, 2010 candidate John Robitaille is a potential. 2012 congressional candidate and former supervisor of police Brendan Doherty might actually be able to fail upward successfully here, given that the district he ran in was more democratic than the state as a whole.