Governor races

Governor races

Brownback wins GOP gubernatorial nomination

As expected, Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) easily won the Republican nomination for governor of Kansas.

With five percent of the precincts reporting, the Associated Press called the race for Brownback, who lead challenger Joan Heffington 81 percent to 18 percent.

State Sen. Tom Holland won his uncontested Democratic primary.

Brownback is the favorite to win in November. He did not seek reelection to his Senate seat because of self-imposed term limits.

The race to replace him in the upper chamber has been a nasty campaign between two Republican House members.

Reps. Jerry Moran and Todd Tiahrt have both fought hard for the Republican nomination, as the primary winner is expected to hold the seat in the Republican-leaning state.

Moran has lead in the polls, but early returns have shown the race tightening.


Bernero wins Michigan Dem governor's nod

Fueled by the support of organized labor, Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero won the Democratic gubernatorial nod in Michigan Tuesday.

Bernero defeated state House Speaker Andy Dillon (D) 58-42 percent. With 1,599 of 5,732 precincts reporting, the Associated Press called the race for Bernero.

An EPIC-MRA poll released last week by the Detroit Free Press and WXYZ-TV showed Bernero and Dillon were within eight points of each other.
Dillon raised $1.4 million for his bid while Bernero raked in $743,000. But Bernero was also boosted by the support of labor unions, including the Michigan AFL-CIO. Dillon reportedly angered union leaders when he proposed requiring all public employees to join a single, statewide health insurance system.


Tancredo wreaks havoc on Colorado governor's race

Former Rep. Tom Tancredo's (R-Colo.) entry into the race for governor in Colorado has helped Democrat John Hickenlooper to a double-digit lead.

A new Rasmussen poll out Tuesday gives Hickenlooper 43 percent of the vote to Republican Scott McInnis's 25 percent. Tancredo is polling at 24 percent, running on the Constitution Party line.

The dramatic shift in the race is about more than just Tancredo. McInnis has plummeted in the polls since the Republican was accused of plagiarizing large sections of several articles he wrote for a nonprofit group. 

McInnis has admitted some of his writings were not properly attributed to other sources, but he has forged ahead with his campaign for governor even amid signs that most of his support and fundraising have dried up.

McInnis' primary challenger, businessman Dan Maes, has problems of his own. Maes was recently fined more than $17,000 for campaign finance violations. 

In a general election contest with Maes as the GOP nominee, Hickenlooper is still ahead by a large margin. He leads that matchup with 42 percent of the vote to 27 percent for Maes and 24 percent for Tancredo.

The poll surveyed 750 likely voters and has a margin of error of plus-or-minus four percentage points.   

In a Republican primary debate this past Sunday, both Maes and McInnis downplayed Tancredo's potential effect on the race. But it's clear the former congressman is poised to cause major problems for Republicans in Colorado this fall. 

Tancredo is a former supporter of McInnis, but said he decided to enter the race because he no longer views either Republican contender capable of winning a general election in November. 


Rep. Sanchez files papers for 2014 Calif. gov. run

At least one California Democrat appears to be hedging her bets on Attorney General Jerry Brown's (D) chances of beating former eBay CEO Meg Whitman (R).

Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-Calif.) filed paperwork Monday to raise money for a 2014 gubernatorial run, according to the Sacramento Bee

California's governor is limited to two terms so if Brown defeats Whitman in November Sanchez would have to primary him on her way to the Golden State's top job in 2014. If she's planning to run against Whitman, Sanchez must sense something that isn't apparent in the public polling.

A Field Poll in July had Brown at 44 percent and Whitman at 43 percent -- a virtual tie. That will likely change, however, when Whitman starts devoting her financial resources to big TV ad buys.

Brown has spent just over $630,000 since entering the race and now has close to $23.2 million cash on hand, but Whitman to date has spent some $100 million of her personal fortune and will likely go back to the well again before November. She hasn't yet released her latest financial disclosure statement.

If Sanchez wants to compete with that kind of financial muscle, it's best to get started early. 


Handel tells Deal to put the ‘big-boy pants on’

Southern gubernatorial runoffs have seen some hard-edged campaigning this cycle, and Georgia is proving no exception.

Former Secretary of State Karen Handel (R) has zeroed in on former Rep. Nathan Deal's (R-Ga.) ethics woes, targeting him in a TV ad and a follow-up mailer.

Handel's campaign tactics were the first topic of discussion in the candidates' debate on the Fox 5 Atlanta affiliate Sunday.

Handel defended her decision to call Deal a "corrupt relic of Washington, D.C."

"I stand by these ads, everything in them, [as] 100 percent accurate," she said.

She called it "disingenuous" for Deal to be "squealing" about negative campaigning.

"Facts are facts," she said. "This is a race for governor. Things are tough. Campaigns are tough. It's frankly time to put the big-boy pants on because, candidly, if you can’t handle this, how are you going to handle [Democratic nominee] Roy Barnes?"

In response, Deal said that people were "repulsed" by Handel's tactics.

The runoff vote is Aug. 10. Watch the full debate below.


Handel targets Deal's ethics woes in Georgia runoff

Georgia gubernatorial candidate Karen Handel (R) is trying to capitalize on reports that her rival, former Rep. Nathan Deal (R-Ga.), is the target of a federal grand jury investigation.

Deal denied the claim Wednesday evening, but Handel is up Thursday with a new TV ad that hits the former congressman for being a "corrupt relic of Washington, D.C."

Handel and Deal are competing in the Aug. 10 runoff for the GOP gubernatorial nomination.

Her first TV ad sought to distinguish Handel through her lipstick. Now this 30-second spot notes she "carries a purse" and not "baggage." It also touts her endorsement from Sarah Palin.

The ad is up primarily on broadcast in the Atlanta media market, which covers more than half the GOP primary electorate, according to a Handel spokesman. Fred Davis of the California-based firm Strategic Perception is producing Handel's spots.


Colorado GOP primary still in shambles

The Colorado Republican gubernatorial primary remains in disarray.

Businessman Dan Maes (R) on Wednesday said robocalls were going out to Republicans telling them he’s withdrawn from the race.

Maes and former Rep. Scott McInnis, the other Republican in the race for the GOP nod, had been asked to withdraw from the field by Tom Tancredo. The former Republican congressman said it would be a “disaster” if either man was their party’s nominee because McInnis is embroiled in a plagiarism scandal and Maes has been fined for campaign-finance violations.

Both have refused — this week, Tancredo entered the race on the American Constitution Party ticket.

Maes said the robocalls, which claim to be from “Maes campaign headquarters,” were “cheap shots.”

“My campaign has been focused on a positive, conservative message from the beginning, and dirty tricks in the 11th hour are a clear sign that my message is resonating with voters,” he said in a statement.

He was alerted to the calls by several supporters. 

“I’m proud to notify the citizens of this state that I’m in this race for the long haul, and I have every intention of becoming Colorado’s next governor,” Maes said.

The primary will be held Aug. 10.


Askins scores narrow win in Okla. gubernatorial primary

Oklahoma Lt. Gov. Jari Askins narrowly defeated state Attorney General Drew Edmondson in Tuesday’s Democratic primary for governor.

Askins won 50.3 percent of the vote to Edmondson’s 49.7 percent. The gap between the two was less than 3,000 votes.

Edmondson, who trailed in early returns, narrowed the gap with Askins as the night wore on, but eventually conceded victory to Askins despite the razor-thin margin.

The Democratic primary contest was close for weeks. Both candidates decided to forgo running for reelection to their respective statewide offices for a shot at the governor’s office.

Edmondson led heading into Election Day both in the polls and in campaign dollars. He raised more cash than any gubernatorial candidate in either party, banking $2.6 million over the course of his campaign.

In the race’s final week, Askins lent her campaign a hefty $675,000. But even with that cash included, she was only able to manage $1.1 million over the course of the race.

She did, however, receive a last-minute boost from former University of Oklahoma football coach Barry Switzer, who endorsed her last week. Switzer is a wildly popular figure in the state, and statewide candidates have sought his backing in the past.

Switzer’s endorsement provided a last-minute boost for Gov. Brad Henry during his first run in 2002.

The primary victory for Askins ensures that the state will elect its first female governor this fall. Askins will face Rep. Mary Fallin (R) in November. 


Rep. Fallin notches easy win in GOP primary for governor

Rep. Mary Fallin (R-Okla.) cruised to victory in Tuesday’s Republican primary for governor. 

The Associated Press called the race for Fallin with 35 percent of precincts reporting. Fallin had 60 percent of the vote to state Sen. Randy Brogdon’s 34 percent.    

Fallin was the prohibitive favorite in the race and the pick of the Republican Governors Association.

She held a large cash advantage, and polls had her ahead of Brogdon by as many as 35 points in the lead-up to Election Day.

Fallin was backed by the pro-life group The Susan B. Anthony List, which hailed her victory Tuesday. “This latest win for an authentic, pro-life woman candidate continues the momentum that is making 2010 ‘the year of the pro-life woman,’ ” said Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the group’s candidate fund. “In Congress, Representative Fallin has been a vocal advocate for the unborn and their mothers.”

Fallin actually passed up the chance to vote for herself in Tuesday’s primary, opting instead to be in Washington to cast a vote on an emergency funding bill for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. 

Fallin and Rep. Tom Cole (R) rushed out of the House chamber after the vote to get a flight back to Oklahoma to make their respective campaign victory parties. 

—Updated at 10:40