Governors' Races Ratings: Maine-New Mexico

Here's the third part of my gubernatorial race ratings: Maine -- Toss Up: Maine's 2006 governor's race was a robust four-way race. Gov. ...
by | March 16, 2010

Here's the third part of my gubernatorial race ratings:

Maine -- Toss Up: Maine's 2006 governor's race was a robust four-way race. Gov. John Baldacci won reelection with only 38% of the vote. An independent candidate scored 21.5% of the vote and a third-party candidate scored 9.5% of the vote. But, don't expect a repeat this year. Those two candidates were able to do so well without major party backing in large measure because of the generous public campaign funding under Maine law. Afterward, Maine tightened the requirements for candidates to receive public money. This year, only well-known Democrats and Republicans are in the running for public funding.

Maryland - Likely Democratic: I know there's some bad blood between Democratic Gov. Martin O'Malley and Bob Ehrlich, the Republican governor O'Malley defeated in 2006. So, as Ehrlich gears up for a rematch, there's bound to be some unpleasantness between them. Still, Ehrlich's recent criticism of O'Malley for visiting troops in Iraq during a legislative session frankly is one of the more boneheaded political moves I've seen lately. Even as he lost in 2006, most Marylanders liked Ehrlich personally. He'll need to calibrate his attacks to not lose that advantage in a state where any Democrat starts out with a sizable edge.

Massachusetts -- Toss Up: Gov. Deval Patrick's recent shot at Charlie Baker seems to suggest that the governor views the Republican frontrunner as his strongest challenger, not State Treasurer Tim Cahill, who is running as an independent. That makes sense to me. Baker is running as a socially liberal, fiscally conservative candidate. Cahill wants to run as the same thing, which may mean he lacks a unique ideological niche, in addition to lacking the support of a political party.

Michigan -- Slight Lean Republican: Businessman Rick Snyder's "one tough nerd" is one of my favorite political slogans, well, ever. Still, despite the buzz Snyder is getting, can a self-proclaimed moderate really claim the Republican nomination? Plus, did Snyder have to use the narrator from the demon sheep commercial for his ad campaign?

Minnesota -- Toss Up: One issue to watch on the Minnesota campaign trail: The politics of Minnesota's state-level stimulus. The debate seems to mirror the federal one. Democrats in the legislature approved a $1 billion bonding bill for shovel-ready public works projects. Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty vetoed about a third of it, saying the Democrats were spending too much and weren't spending wisely.

Nebraska -- Safe Republican: Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman should have no trouble winning reelection, despite Democrat Mark Lakers' recent entrance into the race. Heineman is embroiled in an interesting policy debate with some of his political allies, though. He opposes a bill that would provide prenatal care to all poor women, regardless of immigration status. Many pro-life activists support the legislation, arguing that the patients aren't just the mothers, some of whom are illegal immigrants, but also the unborn children who will be U.S. citizens at birth.

New Hampshire -- Very Likely Democratic: New Hampshire is a good place to pay attention to the politics of pot. Gov. John Lynch and his fellow Democrats who control the legislature disagree on the subject. The legislature approved a bill to allow medical marijuana, but Lynch vetoed it. Lynch also is threatening to veto legislation, passed by the House, that would decriminalize possession of marijuana for recreational use.

New Mexico -- Slight Lean Democratic: Is Pete Domenici Jr. a false frontrunner for the Republican nomination? Thanks to his famous name (Pete Domenici Sr. was a long-time U.S. senator), he leads in early polling of the Republican primary and performs best against Lt. Gov. Diane Denish (the likely Democratic candidate) in the general election. But, Domenici's weak showing at the state Republican convention, where he took only 5% of the vote, suggests that he lacks support among the people who are paying the most attention to the contest right now.

Josh Goodman
Josh Goodman  |  Former Staff Writer
mailbox@governing.com

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