Can Democrats Flip Crucial Governors' Seats?

In the 36 gubernatorial races this fall, all but 10 of the states are currently led by Republicans.
by | March 30, 2018

The last five months have been a busy time in politics. And yet, since our last handicapping of the 2018 gubernatorial races, the broad outline of this year’s 36 contests has barely budged.

In fact, we’ve changed the rating of only one state: New York moves from safe Democratic to likely Democratic.

Otherwise, 18 seats are still vulnerable -- 12 of which are held by the GOP, compared to just five by the Democrats and one by an independent, Alaska’s Bill Walker. Of those 18, three GOP-held seats -- Illinois, Maine and New Mexico -- currently lean Democratic. By contrast, no Democratic seat leans Republican, though three are rated tossup: the open seats in Colorado, Connecticut and Minnesota.

Overall, the GOP holds a 33-16 edge in gubernatorial offices and will have more governorships to defend this year -- 26 to the Democrats’ nine.

As we wrote in October, we predict that in a neutral political environment, Democrats would be able to gain up to three governorships nationally. But with the political winds in the Democrats’ favor -- for the first time since 2006 the GOP will control the White House and Congress during a midterm election -- the net gain could be as high as five to seven seats for the Democrats.

That said, it’s worth remembering that the national political environment doesn’t always impact gubernatorial candidates. Many voters are able to distinguish between the political and personal factors that affect state races and those that affect federal races.

Before we delve in to the state-by-state breakdown of each 2018 race, a few notes. Vulnerability in our ratings does not mean an incumbent governor is at risk of losing a primary contest -- only a general election. Our handicapping is based on consultations with dozens of experts in the states as well as national party strategists. And within all categories, the seats are listed from most likely to go Republican to most likely to go Democratic. Our categories are safe Republican, likely Republican, lean Republican, tossup, lean Democratic, likely Democratic and safe Democratic.

And for an interactive version of the map, click here.

 

Safe Republican

South Dakota: Open seat; held by Gov. Dennis Daugaard (R)

GOP Attorney General Marty Jackley and U.S. Rep. Kristi Noem are facing off in a highly competitive Republican primary. Whoever wins the nomination will be an overwhelming favorite in this solidly red state.

Meanwhile, the Democrats are expected to nominate state Sen. Billie Sutton, a former rodeo star who was injured in the ring and is now in a wheelchair. Sutton will be fighting against the current in the general election.

Idaho: Open seat; held by Gov. Butch Otter (R)

The Republicans have a big field of potential successors for Otter, but three candidates in particular have the strongest prospects for winning the nomination: Lt. Gov. Brad Little, U.S. Rep. Raul Labrador and deep-pocketed Boise developer Tommy Ahlquist. All three have been campaigning for close to a year now -- a primary of unusual length and intensity for Idaho -- and the contest is wide open.

On the Democratic side, there’s also a competitive primary, pitting the 2014 Democratic nominee, A.J. Balukoff, against former state Rep. Paulette Jordan. Balukoff is seen as the establishment candidate and more of a moderate; Jordan is a member of the Coeur d'Alene tribe and is from a rural area.

Barring something unexpected, whoever ends up as the Republican nominee should be heavily favored in November.

Wyoming: Open seat; held by Gov. Matt Mead (R)

Republican Secretary of State Ed Murray -- the early favorite -- quit the race due to a sex scandal. That leaves state Treasurer Mark Gordon and businessman Sam Galeotos in the primary.

On the Democratic side, former state House Minority Leader Mary Throne is running. She’s moderate enough to be a credible candidate, but any Democrat faces long odds in Wyoming these days.

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R)

Gun activist and Fox News personality Jan Morgan is challenging Hutchinson from the right. Morgan, who has knocked the incumbent as a “progressive,” trails in funding. Nonetheless, Hutchinson, who remains the favorite to win renomination, is responding to the taunts by tacking right on a variety of issues.

The leading Democrat is a fresh face with an impressive resume: former NASA scientist and nonprofit executive Jared Henderson. But even in a Democratic wave election, he will face a steep uphill climb in Arkansas.

Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts (R)

State Sen. Bob Krist, a former moderate Republican, has decided to run as a Democrat and seems likely to defeat other potential primary candidates. In the general election, though, Ricketts remains heavily favored to win a second term in this solidly red state.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R)

Abbott is the most popular politician in the Lone Star State. He has a campaign war chest of more than $40 million, the ability to raise much more, and will be facing a second-tier Democratic rival in November after former San Antonio mayor and ex-HUD Secretary Julián Castro and Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings decided not to run.

Instead, the May 22 Democratic runoff will pit Andrew White, a first-time candidate and the son of former Democratic Gov. Mark White, against former Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez. White has steered a more centrist course, hoping to woo Republicans who have become disenchanted with the state GOP’s rightward sprint. Valdez, for her part, has strong support from Democratic elites and is running on a more liberal platform. In the March 6 primary, Valdez won 43 percent to White’s 27 percent, and she comes into the runoff as the favorite, despite White’s impressive showing as a candidate.

Both Democrats trail Abbott in fundraising by large amounts, however, and the incumbent remains the heavy favorite in the race.

 

Likely Republican

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey (R)

Ivey, who ascended to the governor’s office when fellow Republican Robert Bentley resigned amid a sex scandal, won’t have a free ride to a full term. Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle is her strongest challenger, but she also faces credible opposition from state Sen. Bill Hightower and minister Scott Dawson for the GOP nomination.

The Democrats, meanwhile, are pinning their hopes on one of three potential candidates: Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox, former Alabama Chief Justice Sue Bell Cobb and former state Sen. James Fields.

But Alabama remains a deep red state despite Democrat Doug Jones’ defeat of Republican Roy Moore for an open U.S. Senate seat. With the economy in good shape, Ivey has a strong case to make for a full term.

Oklahoma: Open seat; held by Gov. Mary Fallin (R)

Even though term-limited Fallin has experienced a rough stretch due to falling oil prices, the state’s heavy Republican lean gives the GOP the edge. The two Republican frontrunners are Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett and Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb. Other contenders include Tulsa businessman Kevin Stitt, who has promised to spend several million dollars on his campaign, and Tulsa attorney Gary Richardson. If no one gets a majority, the top two finishers will face each other in a runoff.

Democrats, for their part, hope that residual concerns about the economy and divisions on the GOP side will give them a boost. The Democratic primary includes former Attorney General Drew Edmondson and former state Sen. Connie Johnson.

Tennessee: Open seat; held by Gov. Bill Haslam (R)

There are several well-known, well-funded Republicans who are looking to succeed Haslam, but the Democrats’ prospects have risen a bit in recent months.

The GOP field includes U.S. Rep. Diane Black, former state economic development chief Randy Boyd, House Speaker Beth Harwell and businessman Bill Lee. Black and Boyd are the preliminary favorites, but Harwell and Lee could catch on.

The Democratic frontrunner is former Nashville Mayor Karl Dean, though House Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh is challenging him in the primary. Democrats are hoping for a bloody GOP primary and some updraft from a competitive U.S. Senate campaign by former Democratic Gov. Phil Bredesen.

Georgia: Open seat; held by Gov. Nathan Deal (R)

Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle and Secretary of State Brian Kemp head the list of Republican candidates seeking to succeed Deal, though the field also includes state senators Hunter Hill and Michael Williams, as well as ex-Navy SEAL and tech executive Clay Tippins. In the short term, Cagle’s efforts to punish Delta Airlines for ending a National Rifle Association discount have been popular with the GOP base, but some business leaders have been spooked by the move.

On the Democratic side, the race of the Staceys continues -- former House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams and former state Rep. Stacey Evans. Abrams is African-American and more liberal, and Evans is white and more moderate. Despite Democratic progress in the state, particularly in suburban areas, the gubernatorial race remains a relative longshot for the Democrats this fall.

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker (R)

Baker, the Bay State’s popular moderate Republican governor, looks ever stronger to win a second term. No one in the Democratic field -- including Newton Mayor Setti Warren and former state finance secretary Jay Gonzalez -- is getting traction.

Vermont Gov. Phil Scott (R)

Despite Vermont’s deep blue shadings, the Republican incumbent has governed as a moderate, and that’s been broadly popular. Scott may face a challenge from the right by a candidate representing the state’s pro-Trump contingent, especially after he supported some gun rights restrictions. Still, Scott would have a significant edge in winning renomination.

The Democratic field includes Christine Hallquist, a transgender former CEO of the Vermont Electric Co-Op, and James Ehlers, an environmental activist.

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster (R)

McMaster, who moved up from lieutenant governor after Nikki Haley resigned to become U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, won’t have a free ride to the GOP nomination. While he’s the favorite, he still faces a primary field that includes Kevin Bryant, the new lieutenant governor, and Catherine Templeton, who ran two agencies under Haley and who has posted strong fundraising numbers.

On the Democratic side, state Rep. James Smith is the frontrunner. Observers consider him a strong contender because of his Afghan War background. Another expected Democratic hopeful is consultant Phil Noble. Democrats are strengthening their organization in the state, and some demographic trends point in their direction.

Still, South Carolina remains a red state, and the GOP nominee starts with the edge.

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R)

Ducey, who has had a relatively quiet first term, has outraised his two leading Democratic opponents, state Sen. Steve Farley and Arizona State University professor David Garcia. It remains to be seen how much of a boost a national wave will give Democrats in Arizona, which voted for Trump.

 

Lean Republican

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds (R)

Reynolds, who succeeded GOP Gov. Terry Branstad after he was named ambassador to China, is considered personable and is seen as a strong campaigner. But the race could turn on how the state's budget situation is resolved, and whether a national wave can give Democrats a boost despite Trump winning the state easily in 2016. The leading challengers on the Democratic side are businessman Fred Hubbell and state Sen. Nate Boulton.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R)

Walker, running for a third consecutive term, is a known quantity in Wisconsin. The Democratic field is considerably less so. It includes State Superintendent Tony Evers, state Sen. Kathleen Vinehout, Assemblyman Dana Wachs, Madison Mayor Paul Soglin, businessman Andy Gronik, former state Democratic Party chair Matt Flynn, political activist Mike McCabe, firefighters’ union president Mahlon Mitchell and former state Rep. Kelda Helen Roys. Still, Walker’s favorability rating is hovering around 48 percent, which means he’s vulnerable, especially if Democratic turnout is energized by a national wave.

Ohio: Open seat; held by Gov. John Kasich (R)

Attorney General Mike DeWine has teamed up with one of his former rivals, Secretary of State Jon Husted, on a ticket, effectively making him the frontrunner in the GOP primary against Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor. The Democratic field has also solidified, with Richard Cordray, the former state attorney general and head of the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, teaming up with former U.S. Rep. Betty Sutton as his running mate. They lead the field against former U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich, who’s making a surprisingly strong bid, as well as former state Supreme Court Justice Bill O’Neill and state Senate Minority Leader Joe Schiavoni. The GOP starts with an edge, but the race should be competitive.

New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu (R)

Historically, New Hampshire voters are loath to oust a new governor after only their first two-year term. This boosts Sununu’s chances of winning reelection, despite the likelihood of a national Democratic wave and the recent voting patterns in this swing state. Sununu’s approval numbers are strong thanks to a good economy, which has helped scare off top-tier Democrats. For now, at least, it looks like Sununu should be able to withstand a Trump-related downdraft.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R)

Hogan, a moderate Republican, has maintained his distance from Trump -- a necessity in his blue state. It’s enabled him to put together 60 percent-plus approval ratings. Still, his polling on whether residents want him to win reelection hovers below 50 percent, which is a potentially troubling sign.

The three leading Democratic contenders are former Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker, Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz and former NAACP President Ben Jealous. Regardless of who wins the Democratic primary, expect a nasty race in the fall. The Hogan camp already has taken shots across the bow at Baker and Kamenetz regarding school-related scandals in their respective jurisdictions. If Jealous is the nominee, Hogan is expected to tie him to the left wing of the Democratic Party in a bid to peel off moderate Democrats.

Hogan is not as safe as either Baker of Massachusetts or Scott of Vermont. But for now at least, the race tilts slightly his way.

Kansas: Open seat; held by Gov. Sam Brownback (R)

The race to succeed the unpopular and staunchly conservative Brownback has become even more complex in recent months.

Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer was elevated to the governorship after Brownback’s departure for an ambassadorship. As Colyer has grappled with a tough school funding issue and a battle over Medicaid expansion, he’s been forced to confront a contested GOP primary. Secretary of State Kris Kobach is a favorite of the party’s right flank, but he’s a polarizing figure for his anti-immigration and anti-voter-fraud positions. The other Republicans are Insurance Commisisoner Kel Selzer and former state Sen. Jim Barnett, who is probably too moderate to win over the GOP primary base.

Despite Kansas’ Republican leanings, Democrats see an opportunity after Brownback’s difficult two terms, especially if a controversial GOP candidate such as Kobach wins the GOP nomination and a national Democratic wave materializes.

The Democrats have four major candidates: House Minority Leader Jim Ward, former Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer, former agriculture Secretary Josh Svaty and state Sen. Laura Kelly. Kelly is a late entrant, but with the backing of former Democratic Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, she’s become the frontrunner.

A wild card is independent Greg Orman, who got 43 percent of the vote against incumbent Republican U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts in 2014. Conventional wisdom suggests that a strong Orman bid would hurt Democrats, allowing even a polarizing Republican to win with 40 percent of the vote.

For now, we’re keeping this race at lean Republican, but it could move into the tossup category before long.

 

Tossup

Alaska Gov. Bill Walker (I)

Walker, a Republican-turned-independent, has mediocre approval ratings and is facing a challenge from several Republicans, including former state Sen. Mike Dunleavy, businessman Scott Hawkins and state Rep. Mike Chenault.

So far, no significant Democrat has entered the race, though former U.S. Sen. Mark Begich has toyed with a run.

This is a GOP pickup opportunity, but for now, we’re calling it a tossup.

Connecticut: Open seat; held by Gov. Dannel Malloy (D)

While Connecticut remains generally Democratic, Malloy has presided over a persistently sluggish economy and an even weaker fiscal picture that was punctuated by a lengthy budget standoff this year. Republicans have already made legislative gains in 2016 and are poised to make a strong run at the governorship in 2018. But both party’s fields are extraordinarily large and virtually impossible to handicap at this point. Everything about this contest screams tossup.

Michigan: Open seat; held by Gov. Rick Snyder (R)

Attorney General Bill Schuette is the GOP frontrunner. His indictments against figures involved in the Flint water crisis could insulate him from Snyder’s most problematic legacy. He’s running against state Sen. Patrick Colbeck, who has Tea Party and libertarian leanings, and Lt. Gov. Brian Calley.

On the Democratic side, former state Sen. Gretchen Whitmer is the frontrunner and has the backing of Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan. Others running include Abdul El-Sayed, the former Detroit city health director, and entrepreneur Shri Thanedar.

Given that Michigan voters have not typically given one party control of the governor's office for three consecutive terms, the Democrats have a decent shot this year despite their disappointing presidential results in the state in 2016.

Florida: Open seat; held by Gov. Rick Scott (R)

The Florida gubernatorial race is a free-for-all on both sides.

For the Republicans, the field includes Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam; U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, who has the backing of Trump; and outgoing state House Speaker Richard Corcoran. In the wake of the Parkland school shooting, guns will likely be a big issue among the GOP electorate, with Corcoran currently taking heat for a bill that passed on his watch that includes provisions opposed by the National Rifle Association.

The Democratic field is led by former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham and wealthy former Miami Beach Mayor Phil Levine. But other significant candidates include Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum and businessman Chris King.

The Trump factor continues to loom large and could be decisive in this tossup race.

Nevada: Open seat; held by Gov. Brian Sandoval (R)

The Democrats have high hopes after eight years under Sandoval, a popular moderate Republican. But despite the prospect of a national Democratic wave, the party has seen its registration lead shrink in recent months and faces a rough primary between two commissioners in populous Clark County, Steve Sisolak and Chris Giunchigliani.

The Republicans also have a primary that pits Attorney General Adam Laxalt against State Treasurer Dan Schwartz.

The shape of the race should become clearer after the nominations are set; for now, this remains a tossup.

Colorado: Open seat; held by Gov. John Hickenlooper (D)

In the Democratic caucuses in March, former state treasurer and Denver CFO Cary Kennedy received a surprising 50 percent of the votes cast, outpacing the candidate who had been the presumed frontrunner, U.S. Rep. Jared Polis. Former state Sen. Mike Johnston and Lt. Gov. Donna Lynne are also running. Polis, who has deep pockets, could come back in the primary, but the caucuses gave Kennedy significant positive momentum.

On the GOP side, the biggest names include State Treasurer Walker Stapleton; former state Rep. Victor Mitchell, who has deep pockets; and Trump backer Steve Barlock. Stapleton starts as the favorite for the nomination.

Colorado’s significant suburban and Hispanic electorates bode well for the Democrats in this election cycle, but until the nominees are set we’ll keep this in the tossup category.

Minnesota: Open seat; held by Gov. Mark Dayton (D)

The Democratic field includes U.S. Rep. Tim Walz, state Auditor Rebecca Otto and state Rep. Erin Murphy. Otto and Murphy are competing for Twin Cities liberal support against Walz, who is hoping he can prevail by appealing to the more rural, blue-collar, pro-resource development wing of the party.

On the Republican side, 2014 GOP nominee Jeff Johnson has emerged as the favorite for the party endorsement at the state convention, with his major rival being former state party chair Keith Downey. Mayor Mary Giuliani-Stephens of Woodbury and Phillip Parrish, a naval reserve officer and Afghan War veteran, are also in the GOP race. It’s also increasingly likely that former GOP Gov. Tim Pawlenty will run again.

It would be unusual for Minnesotans to give the Democrats a third consecutive gubernatorial term, especially given Trump's surprisingly narrow loss in Minnesota in 2016. But if the national wind at their backs is strong enough, state Democrats could overcome that pattern.

 

Lean Democratic

Maine: Open seat; held by Gov. Paul LePage (R)

The success of Trump in Maine’s rural areas in 2016 means the 2018 gubernatorial race should be competitive. The GOP field includes Mary Mayhew, the state commissioner of human services; state Senate Majority Leader Garrett Mason; state House Minority Leader Ken Fredette; and 2010 independent candidate and now Republican businessman Shawn Moody.

On the Democratic side, the field is equally big, with no clear favorite. It includes businessman Adam Cote, Attorney General Janet Mills, former state House Speaker Mark Eves and state Senator Mark Dion. History is on the Democrats’ side: Maine hasn’t elected back-to-back gubernatorial candidates from the same party since 1958.

But the wild card, as always in Maine, is whether a third-party candidate, such as Democrat-turned-Independent State Treasurer Terry Hayes, can sneak in with a plurality, as the controversial LePage did. Until the primaries clarify the lineup for November, we’re keeping this race at lean Democratic.

Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo (D)

A March poll found Raimondo with only a 37 percent approval rating and in a statistical dead heat with Republican Allan Fung. But Raimondo can count on incumbency, a fundraising edge and a crowded field.

Two Democrats are challenging Raimondo in the primary: former state Rep. Spencer Dickinson and environmentalist Paul Roselli.

But Raimondo’s biggest threat may come from former Secretary of State Matt Brown, a Democrat who will run from the left as an independent. Other Independent candidates include ex-state Rep. and Trump campaign chair Joe Trill, and Luis-Daniel Munoz, a physician and political novice.

Fung -- the mayor of Cranston -- is considered the frontrunner on the GOP side, but he’ll have to get past state House Minority Leader Patricia Morgan and former state Sen. Giovanni Feroce.

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner (R)

Even before the March 20 primary, Rauner was vulnerable, thanks in part to an ongoing battle with the Democratic-controlled legislature, which kept the state without a full budget for more than two years, as well as from a conservative backlash over his decision to sign a bill providing state funding for abortions for low-income women. On primary day, he barely edged out socially conservative challenger Jeanne Ives.

Meanwhile, J.B. Pritzker, a multibillionaire and the brother of the former Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker, easily defeated Chris Kennedy, a businessman and the son of Robert F. Kennedy, and progressive state Sen. Daniel Biss.

The contest between Rauner and Pritzker is expected to get ugly, as Rauner has already been spending money on TV ads attacking Pritzker, linking him to impeached and jailed former Gov. Rod Blagojevich. But in a Democratic state in a Democratic year and with an unpopular Republican governor who has lost faith on the right, this is Pritzker’s race to lose.

New Mexico: Open seat; held by Gov. Susana Martinez (R)

With Martinez bowing out after two terms, Democratic-leaning and heavily Latino New Mexico continues to be ripe for a takeover, though not without some Democratic infighting along the way. Democratic U.S. Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham prevailed at a somewhat messy pre-primary nominating convention. She has two credible primary opponents -- state Sen. Joe Cervantes and businessman Jeff Apodaca, son of former Gov. Jerry Apodaca.

The expected Republican nominee is U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce, who has a record of winning in a heavily Hispanic and Democratic congressional district, and who may be able to put some distance between himself and Martinez, who has accumulated baggage during her tenure. Still, Trump is unpopular in the state, so we’re keeping this at lean Democratic.

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (D)

Wolf’s approval ratings may not be exceptionally high, but he also doesn’t have any insurmountable problems. He has proposed unpopular general tax hikes in his first two budgets, but at the same time he’s increased education spending and supports a shale tax -- both of which are popular.

His leading GOP rivals, state Sen. Scott Wagner and retired health care executive Paul Mango, are wealthy and aligned with Trump, which may not be as much of a benefit in the Keystone State in 2018 as it was in 2016.

 

Likely Democratic

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) (Shift from safe Democratic)

It has not been a good stretch for Cuomo, who is seeking a third term. First, former Cuomo advisor Joseph Percoco was convicted on fraud and bribery charges. Then, actress Cynthia Nixon launched a high-profile primary challenge from Cuomo’s left. Even if Nixon doesn’t defeat Cuomo in the Democratic primary, the incumbent might get bloodied.

If the GOP aligns behind moderate Dutchess County Executive Marcus Molinaro, the general election could become a race. For now, though, that’s a lot of dominos that need to fall. Until they do, we’re shifting this only as far as likely Democratic.

Oregon: Gov. Kate Brown (D)

A recent poll shows Brown up over GOP state Rep. Knute Buehler, 45 percent to 29 percent. While Buehler is relatively unknown, he’s moderate enough to compete in this blue state and should have enough money to mount a credible campaign. First, though, he must survive challenges from his right, including from Greg Wooldridge, a former Navy Blue Angel who’s been endorsed by Oregon Right to Life. (Buehler, an orthopedic surgeon, favors abortion rights.)

Brown got through the limited, off-year legislative session without too much damage. Democrats will do everything to tie Republicans -- who are barely a fourth of Oregon's registered voters -- to Trump. Being a Democratic incumbent in a Democratic state in a likely Democratic year should be sufficient for Brown.

 

Safe Democratic

Hawaii Gov. David Ige (D)

Ige was already facing a strong, well-funded challenge from Democratic U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, when an incorrect missile alert was sent on Ige’s watch. Hanabusa has been using that incident to sharpen her challenge. Whoever wins the Democratic primary should prevail in November, despite a bid by GOP state Rep. Andria Tupola. The Democrats have a virtual stranglehold on the Hawaii Legislature, with not a single Republican in the state Senate and only a half dozen in the state Assembly.

California: Open seat; held by Gov. Jerry Brown (D)

California Democrats have only been increasing their dominance in the state, and with California’s top-two primary system, it’s possible that no Republican will make it to the November ballot. The list of candidates on both sides is long, but two Democratic candidates matter the most: Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom and former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. A relatively new entrant who’s been attracting attention is former Democratic congressional aide Amanda Renteria.

*CORRECTIONS: Due to a technical glitch after this article was written and edited, a previous version briefly included multiple inaccurate references to President Trump's name. We sincerely apologize for the error.

The article has been updated to clarify the ballot status of New Mexico gubernatorial candidate Jeff Apodaca.