The decade-long Republican hold on a majority of the nation’s governorships is in jeopardy in states from New York to Alabama, though some of the Democrats’ stars in the Midwest also are running into political trouble.
Republicans have held a majority of the governorships since 1995 and outnumber Democrats 28-to-22. But election analysts say Democrats could cut deeply into that lead in 2006 because Republicans have to defend many more governorships at stake in the election cycle. Several of those Republican seats are in heavily Democratic states such as New York, Maryland and Massachusetts.
“Given the number of governorships at risk in 2005-06 (22 Republican and 16 Democratic), Democrats should have a good gubernatorial cycle,” veteran elections tracker Stuart Rothenberg said last week in his Rothenberg Political Report. “Democrats ought not be satisfied with anything less than a net gain of at least a couple — and probably four or five — governors.”
Republican strategists don’t see it that way. They cite stronger candidates and a drop in the political fortunes of the most prominent Democratic governors, including Jennifer M. Granholm of Michigan, where the unemployment rate has risen to 7 percent because of a deteriorating economy, and Rod R. Blagojevich of Illinois, who has been hurt by ethical questions.