Larry Sabato’s 6/17/10 Gubernatorial Snapshot

Gubernatorial Races Of Interest:

ALABAMA GOVERNOR: The Republican runoff, to be held July 13th, will be between first-place finisher Bradley Byrne and Robert Bentley, who edged Tim James by a handful of votes. It is now obvious that James is not going to pick up enough votes to vault into the runoff. The GOP winner—and it isn’t clear yet whether it will be Byrne or Bentley—is very likely to defeat Democrat Ron Sparks in November.

CALIFORNIA GOVERNOR: Meg Whitman (R) has now topped $90 million—ninety million—in spending from her pocketbook, and it’s just mid-June. Her contest with Jerry Brown (D) will be the ultimate test of self-funding’s reach in contemporary politics. Brown is nervous, and should be.

FLORIDA GOVERNOR: The Republican nominee ought to be favored, but there’s something about AG Bill McCollum that just doesn’t sell well in the Sunshine State. A two-time statewide loser already, McCollum is no media candidate, and now he’s tied at best in the GOP primary with self-funder Rick Scott. The Democrat, Alex Sink, hasn’t taken off either, and Bud Chiles, son of former Gov. Lawton Chiles (D), will drain some votes from her column running as an independent. The Senate race featuring Gov. Charlie Crist (I) has captured the public’s imagination, and the gubernatorial battle will remain a lesser mess for the time being.

OHIO GOVERNOR: Gov. Ted Strickland (D) grabbed the NRA endorsement, and seems to have a bit of momentum in a tough reelection race. We’re not ready to change our designation of Toss Up quite yet, but Republican John Kasich (R) has his work cut out for him if he is to deny Strickland a second term. A big national GOP wave may be essential if Kasich is to win.

OREGON GOVERNOR: The more we see of this matchup between former Gov. John Kitzhaber (D) and Republican Chris Dudley, the more we realize it really is a Toss Up. Kitzhaber was popular in his previous incarnation, but voters seem unsure he deserves another trip on the Salem merry-go-round. Dudley has some star power and it is keeping him competitive in a state that normally leans Democratic.

SOUTH CAROLINA GOVERNOR: With the endorsement of the third-place GOP primary candidate, AG Henry McMaster, Nikki Haley appears to have the Republican nomination in the bag over Congressman Gresham Barrett in next Tuesday’s (June 22nd) runoff. In this state, we always have to add, “barring further revelations.” Any Republican will be favored in November, but Democrat Vincent Sheheen is quite able.

TEXAS GOVERNOR: With the endorsement of U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R), Gov. Rick Perry (R) is looking more secure in November over Democrat Bill White. Hutchison must have had to swallow hard to do her party duty, given the nastiness of her primary battle with Perry. Republicans are also assisting the Green Party—not normally an ideological ally—to get a ballot line for November. The Greens may drain a few percentage points from White, who needs every vote he can get in Texas in a Republican-leaning year.

Read more from Larry J. Sabato at Sabato’s Crystal Ball

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