With the all-consuming attention D.C. media focus on the federal elections in just 10 weeks, you’d think they were the most important decisions by voters.
At the same time voters will select 435 House and 34 Senate members, they will also be choosing 36 governors, including 26 statehouses now controlled by Republicans. Despite hourly updates from Capitol Hill, statehouses are where the policy rubber meets the road in America.
And ever since the 2010 midterm elections that delivered an historic spanking to President Obama and Democrats, the GOP has rolled up a record number of wins. They now control 33 governor’s offices and both legislative chambers in 26 of those states. Democrats but 16.
Since 2010, Republicans have picked up nearly 1,000 state legislative seats, an historic party record.
Crucial governor’s races include Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, the broad swath of Heartland that President Trump conquered electorally in 2016, some of them surprisingly. His name is on no ballot this time, but you know any GOP losses in the Midwest will be portrayed as a negative verdict on his presidency.
Big name GOP candidates there include Kris Kobach in Kansas, Kim Reynolds in Iowa, Bruce Rauner in Illinois and Scott Walker seeking a third term in Wisconsin.
Governors elected this fall will play a key role in the decennial legislative redistricting decisions that will be made emerging from the 2020 census. Voters have shown a proclivity for GOP officeholders at the state level for their fiscal restraints and management expertise.
Republican statehouse control played an important role in the redistricting that emerged after 2010, which set up the GOP for its impressive state-level gains since. Now, can they run on their records and hold those offices for the 2020 go-round? While not totally immune to Washington issues and personalities, state voters tend to separate them out from politicians they feel they know better closer to home.
The exception might be Kansas where a hard-line conservative and vocal Trump supporter narrowly edged out the Republican incumbent, who inherited the office with Sam Brownback’s departure to join the Trump administration.
Trump’s political team announced last week he intends to play an active role this fall, both in campaigning and fundraising. He will spend at least 40 days on the road from this month to Nov. 6, mainly in Senate and House races, where a loss of only 23 seats would return the speaker’s gavel to Nancy Pelosi.
Governors and their established statewide political and financial operations also play a major role in presidential election years, helping plug their party’s nominee into money and effective operatives.