2014 Governors’ Races Provide Drama for 2016

Republicans, increasingly bullish about their prospects to recapture the Senate, face a more daunting task at the state level, where voters will render judgment on the class of GOP governors elected in 2010.

Just as Democrats are defending Senate seats in seven states President Barack Obama lost in 2012, Republican governors are running for re-election in nine states Mr. Obama won, most of which are presidential battlegrounds.

That map presents Democrats with ample chances to recapture some of the 29 governorships the GOP controls. In total, Republicans are defending 22 of the 36 seats up for re-election in the fall, including those held by potential White House hopefuls Scott Walker in Wisconsin, Rick Snyder in Michigan and John Kasich in Ohio.

So while the upcoming congressional elections will grab the bulk of the media attention, this year’s gubernatorial contests may have a bigger impact on the country’s political makeup heading into the next White House race in 2016. The governors descend on Washington this weekend for the National Governors Association annual meeting.

The most vulnerable Republican governors this year are Tom Corbett in Pennsylvania and Paul LePage in Maine, followed by Mr. Snyder and Rick Scott in Florida, according to early polling and the most recent race rankings by the Cook Political Report and the Rothenberg Political Report. Democrats, meanwhile, are most at risk of losing the seat currently occupied by popular Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe, who is retiring.

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