By Brennan Robbins, PPN
Massachusetts Governor Race:
In Massachusetts, Democratic Governor Deval Patrick faces a difficult challenge from Charlie Baker, a former CEO of Harvard Pilgrim Healthcare with moderate credentials. Baker is competing for the anti-Patrick vote with an independent candidate, Massachusetts Treasurer Timothy P. Cahill. Formerly a Democrat, Cahill became a Fox News fixture with his vocal criticisms of President Obama and has sought to run to the right of Baker on fiscal issues. Cahill’s running mate, Paul Loscocco, recently abandoned Cahill’s campaign and endorsed Baker, saying that Baker had won the fight for voters who wanted a change in the Governor’s mansion. As Cahill’s support wanes, Governor Patrick faces a threat from the left: Green-Rainbow candidate Jill Stein has attacked Patrick for being too friendly to big business. One recent poll estimated her support at 4%. Most polls show Patrick and Baker locked in a tight race; the outcome may well depend on the extent to which Cahill’s supporters choose to embrace Baker in the final weeks before the election.
Maine Governor Race:
Term-limited, Democratic Governor John Baldacci is retiring, creating another opportunity for a GOP gubernatorial pickup. Democratic State Senate candidate Libby Mitchell is challenging the former mayor of Waterville, Republican Paul LePage. The rightward tilt in Maine this year mirrors the mood in the rest of the country; polling expert Nate Silver estimates that LePage has an 82% chance of winning the election. LePage has largely emphasized the need to cut government waste and limit the size of government. Mitchell has largely run on the strength of her credentials and has argued that Maine’s current economic woes are the result of the national recession, not the policies of the previous Democratic administration. Maine, like Massachusetts, also has an independent candidate polling in the low double digits; Independent Eliot Cutler is running as a fiscally conservative, socially liberal alternative to the mainstream candidates. Most political observers believe Cutler is siphoning left-of-center votes from Mitchell. Though LePage is the significant favorite to win the election, a sudden drop in support for Cutler in the following weeks could make the race more competitive.
Rhode Island Governor Race:
In Rhode Island, Republican Governor Don Carcieri is leaving office because of term limits, creating a rare opportunity for Democrats to seize a governor’s mansion this year. Democratic candidate and State Treasurer Frank Caprio has a small lead in the polls, though independent candidate and former Republican Senator Lincoln Chafee could still mount a comeback. Republican candidate John Robitaille, a former aid to Carcieri, enjoys significant support but has little chance of victory. Chafee was the initial favorite, in part due to his tremendous name recognition, but has lost significant support as the race has progressed. He is currently taking a beating from all sides for his sales tax increase proposal. As is the case in much of the country, economic and fiscal issues are paramount.
Vermont Governor Race:
In Vermont, popular Republican Governor Jim Douglas has chosen to not run for reelection. The Democratic candidate, State Senate President Peter Shumlin, is challenging Republican Lieutenant Governor Brian Dubie. Dubie has promised to make Vermont more business friendly by reforming regulatory structures, cutting taxes and controlling spending. Both candidates have exchanged unusually negative ads, recently prompting Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy to say that negative campaigning is not appropriate in the great state of Vermont. As of October 5th, Nate Silver’s prediction model estimated that Shumlin is almost a 4-1 favorite to win.
Maryland Governor Race:
Maryland voters get a unique opportunity this November: to pick among the same candidates again. Former Republican Governor Bob Erlich is running against former Mayor of Baltimore and current Gov. Martin O’Malley, who unseated Erlich in 2006. Erlich has attacked O’Malley for presiding over job losses and not succeeding in reducing utility rates; O’Malley has countered with economic data suggesting Maryland is off to a faster recovery than most states and his record of negotiating two one-time utility credits for Maryland residents. As of October 5th, Nate Silver rates O’Malley as the overwhelming favorite (89 % chance of victory).