A Record Year for Rookie Governors?

If a few more incumbent governors lose, next year we could have the most new governors in American history. Will it happen?
by | June 10, 2010

Tim Storey makes a very interesting point at the Thicket:

Incumbent Nevada governor Jim Gibbons lost the Republican primary on Tuesday guaranteeing that legislatures in at least 24 states will be working with new governors in 2011. The all-time record for new governors in one election cycle was 27 in 1920. If a couple of incumbent governors lose in the fall which is likely, it will be an historic year for rookie governors.

So, will we hit the record?

Thirteen states have governors who aren't up for reelection, so they're safe.

Two other governors, Arkansas' Mike Beebe and Nebraska's Dave Heineman, are pretty close to completely safe as they seek new terms.

Other governors who are in a strong position include Alaska's Sean Parnell, Idaho's Butch Otter and Utah's Gary Herbert.

Governors who have rather tough races but who still have to be considered favorites include Texas' Rick Perry, New Hampshire's John Lynch, Maryland's Martin O'Malley and Massachusetts' Deval Patrick.

Governors in races I would consider tossups include Arizona's Jan Brewer, Illinois' Pat Quinn and Ohio's Ted Strickland.

The one governor who's clearly an underdog right now is Iowa's Chet Culver.

I'd say that the most likely scenario is that Culver loses, 1.5 of the tossup governors lose and 1.5 of the currently favored governors lose. Add it up and that would mean 28 new governors, setting the all-time record. Of course, what does .5 of a governor look like?

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

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