Governors: Eight States to Watch – May 2016 Update
Of the 12 states holding gubernatorial elections in 2016, as many as eight are likely to be competitive. Delaware, Oregon, Utah, and North Dakota are the only seats in which the incumbent party is expected to maintain control of the seat with ease.
Businessman John Brunner is the first Republican to hit the air before the August primary. Brunner’s ad focuses on his faith and conservatism. The ad began as a $30,000 buy in a Republican corner of the state, but will begin running statewide, according to the campaign. The ad follows a Republican debate in which all four candidates shared their positions on issues ranging from taxes and transportation to religious freedom. This race is rated Tossup.
In the wake of signing a controversial religious freedom bill dubbed the “bathroom bill” because it requires people to use restrooms matching their natural gender, the majority of polls show North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory trailing Democrat Roy Cooper. SurveyUSA found Cooper leading 47 to 43 percent, while Elon University found a larger margin at 48 to 42 percent. Democratic pollster PPP showed Cooper ahead by only one point at 43 to 42 percent. This race is rated Tossup.
Coal billionaire Jim Justice will face Republican Bill Cole in November, after winning a three-way Democratic primary on May 10th. Justice, the wealthiest man in West Virginia, will have the ability to self-fund his campaign after heavily outspending his Democratic opponents to win the primary. Democrats have held the governorship since 2001, but this state has been trending more and more conservative in recent years. This race will be viewed, in part, as a referendum on recently approved right-to-work legislation. This race is rated Tilt Republican.