The Rushmore Report – Six Governors Races to Watch

The midterm elections are just one week away. While the media has focused heavily on the Senate and House races, 36 gubernatorial elections are up for grabs as well. Republicans have the most to lose, having won control of 33 of the 50 governorships in 2016. Six races are considered toss-ups, each with Republicans currently in office.

These are the six elections to follow closely.

1. Wisconsin

Scott Walker is running for a third term. Opposed by Tony Evers, Wisconsin’s superintendent of public instruction, Walker was once considered unbeatable. But as voters have become weary of the incumbents’ long tenure, Evers has opened up a 3.6 percent lead, according to Real Clear Politics.

2. Georgia

The race for Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal’s open seat is a toss-up between Republican Secretary of State Brian Kemp and Democrat former state House minority leader Stacey Adams. Kemp is patterning his race after that of President Trump, calling for voters to “make Georgia great again.” Adams is banking on a large minority turn-out on election day. Kemp has a small lead of 1.5 points in this Republican-leaning state.

3. Florida

Republican U.S. House member Ron DeSantis is running against Andrew Gillum, mayor of Tallahassee. Gillum is a Bernie Sanders progressive, vying to become Florida’s first black governor. DeSantis has the backing of the national Republican Party. Expected to open a sizable lead, DeSantis is trailing by three to five points in most surveys.

4. Ohio

John Kasich will be replaced by Republican Mike DeWine (former U.S. Senator) or Democrat Richard Cordray (whom DeWine once defeated for State Attorney General). Cordray has secured the endorsements of his party’s most liberal stalwarts, such as Elizabeth Warren, while DeWine has the support of pro-life groups. Cordray leads by 2.7 points.

5. Illinois

Another Republican seat is up for grabs in another large Midwest state. Incumbent Governor Bruce Rauner is opposed by Democrat billionaire venture capitalist J. B. Pritzker. Rauner barely won election in 2014 in a state that went for Hillary Clinton in 2016, by 17 percent. Real Clear Politics has Pritzker running away with this one by 12 percent.

6. Nevada

In a state that has elected only Republican governors for the past 20 years, Nevada is listed as a toss-up by both FiveThirtyEight and Real Clear Politics. Current Governor Brian Sandoval is term-limited, opening the door for Democrat Steve Sisolak (Clark County Commissioner) to oppose Republican Attorney General Adam Laxalt. The Republican holds a five-point lead.


If the other 27 races are won by the party currently in office, and if these six races go as currently forecast – though many are very close – Democrats will pick up four seats, meaning Republicans’ national lead will diminish from 33-17 to 29-21. Their lead among governorships would be cut in half, from 16 to eight.

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