Let’s Talk About Governors

by Barbara Head

Democratic governors are our heroes and need our support! As the battle for federal legislation rages, Republicans have been steadily taking over the states, which control elections and many laws concerning environment, voting, abortion, LGBTQ, and other civil rights. The most important state seats belong to the governors. As of 2020, Democrats control 22 seats and Republicans control 28. Many of our Democratic governors are fighting, and often winning against tremendous odds, to defend their states against their extremist Republican legislatures. (To support our governors and their races, donate to Democratic Governors Association.)

Read on, for the backstories on individual gubernatorial races in the 2022 midterms.  The ratings are accurate as of September 16, and will be updated regularly.  Cook Political Report and 538 are reputable analytic websites. Our emphasis is on competitive races, and we’ve given them our own qualitative ratings as a guide.  

AZ – Open seat. Katie Hobbs (D) vs. Kari Lake (R) 

Cook Political Report rates this race as a toss-up. The previous governor, Republican Doug Ducey, was term limited and cannot run in 2022. He is not a Trump fan, but he has signed restrictive voting laws, such as requiring proof of citizenship to vote, that the Justice Department is challenging in court. 538’s updated poll average shows Katie Hobbs, the current Arizona Democratic Secretary of State, ahead by 2 points. Lake is endorsed by Trump and is an election denier. Category: A – A critical seat that we can win.

FL – Charlie Crist (D) vs. Ron DeSantis (R), incumbent. 

Cook Political rates this race as Likely R. 538’s updated poll average shows DeSantis up by 7 points, and DeSantis has raised more than ten times the funding.  Charlie Crist was governor of FL from 2007 to 2011. During his tenure, he was a Republican and then an Independent, before becoming a Democrat in 2012.  DeSantis is as extreme as they come, and appears to have a stranglehold on this state. The argument has been made that it would be worthwhile helping Crist mount a major attack in the midterms, since DeSantis would be easier to stop now than in 2024, when he is likely to run for president. However, it will be difficult to overcome DeSantis’s commanding lead in the gubernatorial race. Category: C – A gambler’s dream.

GA – Stacey Abrams (D) vs. Brian Kemp, (R), incumbent. 

Cook Political rates this race as Lean R, and 538 polls show Kemp ahead by 5 points. Abrams needs no introduction, she is widely credited for turning GA blue in 2020 by virtue of her powerfully effective grassroots organizing. Kemp is no friend of Trump but supports voter suppression policies and other rightwing causes. As the incumbent in 2018, Kemp ran against Abrams and won by remaining the head election official in GA while he himself was running for office. Despite this obvious cheating, Kemp is relatively popular, but so is Abrams, so a lot will depend upon voter turnout. Category: A – A tough race that deserves support. 

MI – Gretchen Whitmer (D), incumbent, vs Tudor Dixon (R).

Cook Political rates this as Lean D, and 538 polls give Whitmer a substantial lead of 10 points. Whitmer is a well-respected leader with a strong job approval rating, whereas Tudor Dixon, an election denier, is antiabortion in the extreme and backs other radical right policies. Interestingly, as an amateur actress Dixon has appeared in several horror films. If she wins this election, she could star in the movie. Category: B – Ours to lose, but don’t take for granted. 

NV – Steve Sisolak (D), incumbent vs. Joe Lombardo (R)

Cook Political calls this one a Toss-up, and 538’s polls give Sisolak 2 points over Lombardo. Sisolak, considered one of the most vulnerable Democratic governors, presides over a very complex state that recently has been blue but is fighting a significant red drift. Sisolak’s approval ratings have mirrored Biden’s in this state, but they have crept upwards as Nevada’s tourism industry has begun to rebound. Lombardo, a county sheriff, advocates pretty much what you’d expect from someone Trump endorsed. Category: A – Do all you can to keep Nevada blue.

PA – Open seat. Josh Shapiro (D) vs. Doug Mastriano (R)

Cook Political calls this a Lean D, and 538 sports Shapiro with an 8 point lead. Throughout his tenure, PA governor Tom Wolf has been an imposing seawall holding back the tsunami of extremist legislation. He cannot run again this year due to term limits, so this governor’s race is arguably the most important of the midterms. PA election guide 2022. Shapiro is the current, highly-respected PA attorney general. He is favored to win, but we should not be overconfident, since there are still two months to go before the November election. Trump-backed conspiracy-theorist Mastriano is an absolute disaster just waiting to happen. Category: A – We can’t afford to lose this race. 

WI – Tony Evers (D), incumbent vs. Tim Michels (R)

Cook Political calls this a Toss-up, and 538 polls give Evers 3 point lead. This race is right up there with PA as a must-win. Evers too has ferociously battled the powerful extremists of the Republican legislature in this most gerrymandered state in the nation. Michels is an election denier and a wealthy businessman who is funding much of his own campaign, leaving Evers to seek grassroots donors. Tony needs our help. Category: A – We can win this – and we must.