Tuesday , November 30 2021
What’s at Stake in the 2022 Races for Governor

What’s at Stake in the 2022 Races for Governor

Should Mr. Jones best Mr. Kemp in the primary (and if Ms. Abrams does decide to run), he would set up a historic race: the first time in modern U.S. history when both major parties nominated a Black candidate for governor.

In 2018, Laura Kelly, a Democrat, won an unlikely victory in this blood-red state, thanks to the deep unpopularity of cuts to education spending by former Gov. Sam Brownback, a Republican, and the even deeper unpopularity of her opponent, Kris Kobach, the former Kansas secretary of state.

Ms. Kelly had hoped to benefit from a tough two-man Republican primary between Jeff Colyer, a former lieutenant governor who served as governor for a year after Brownback resigned to take a job with the Trump administration, and Derek Schmidt, the state attorney general. But Mr. Colyer pulled out of the race last month after being diagnosed with prostate cancer.

Until Mr. Colyer pulled out, analysts considered the race a tossup, and Ms. Kelly still has several advantages, not least of which is the still-painful memory of the Brownback years. But this is a state that Mr. Trump won by about 15 percentage points in 2020 — in fact, it’s the only 2022 race where a Democrat faces re-election in a Trump state.

Like Arizona, Pennsylvania has been a centerpoint for false claims of voter fraud after the 2020 election. This continuing obsession on the right has in turn colored the Republican primary to replace the Democratic governor, Tom Wolf, who is term limited.

Eight Republicans have declared their candidacy, though no one has emerged as a front-runner. All of them, to some degree, have embraced the pro-Trump cause, if not the specific claims about voter fraud. So far Lou Barletta, a former congressman, has attracted significant attention because of his hard-line immigration stance and name recognition, but it’s anyone’s race at this point.

Only one Democrat, Josh Shapiro, the state attorney general, has entered the race, and it’s very likely to stay that way. With an open Senate seat drawing Democrats’ attention, Mr. Shapiro was able to stake a claim relatively early, and convince his party that a rally around his candidacy gave it the best shot at keeping the governor’s mansion.

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