Monday, March 05, 2007

2007 Races: March Edition

2007 Races- March Edition

At this point near the beginning of the month, I would like to once again take a brief look at the three Gubernatorial elections that will be voted on this fall. Since they are the only three statewide contests for that high office this calander year, they are certain to be paid attention to by pathetic political junkies such as myself and whomever outside my family, may be looking at this.

Kentucky Governor-

The most complex race of 2007 continues to revolve around the contest for the nomination in both parties and whether or not the state will continue to have a law requiring a runoff for the first and second place finishers. That scenario would likely apply to Democrats this year and could complicate their hopes of picking up the Governorship of the Bluegrass State.

As mentioned before on this blog, the Democrat field contains almost as many candidates as are running for the Democrat Presidential nomination. According to Larry Sabato, the front-runners are Jody Miller, Steve Beshear, and Bruce Lunsford. Sabato also apparently feels that additional candidates Steve Henry and Jonathan Miller may have a hard time breaking through the pack. All of these candidates are seen as having various weaknesses, such as Beshear’s past political defeats, Miller’s age and closeness to the good old boy network, and the fact that Lunsford dropped out of a Gubernatorial contest four years ago and endorsed the election of the now unpopular GOP Governor Ernie Fletcher.

Against Fletcher, any of these Democrats would have a decent chance of winning, but the state Republican establishment continues to be lining up behind former Congresswoman Ann Northup in her quest to defeat him and “save the party”, sort of like what transpired last year for the GOP in Alaska. The biggest news in recent days has been the endorsement of Northup and critical words against the incumbent Governor by the current Lt. Governor Steve Pence, whom Fletcher had picked to be his running mate in 2003. Some time back, Pence had decided he would not run with Fletcher, who now has a new running mate.

If Fletcher emerges as the nominee in the three way GOP primary, Democrats will have high hopes of knocking him off. If Northup beats them to the punch, as many expect, and considering the potential damaging effects of the Democrat primary and run-off, that task will be much harder.

March rating- Tossup (Republican)

Louisiana Governor-
The chatter down in the Bayou continues to involve if vulnerable Democrat incumbent Kathleen Blanco will go through with her current reelection plans. Over the past month, the talk has intensified that former U.S. Senator John Breaux, an ally of Blanco, would run instead. There seems to be some confusion over if Blanco would step aside per Breaux’s wishes, or if he would only run if she decides to rule it out on her own accord. Democrats believe that Breaux, with his long history of political success in the state, would be tough to beat, and thus could be their party’s savior. However, the State GOP believes they can knock him out of the box via disqualification if he were to decide to run.

Breaux is a high-rolling Beltway lobbyist who after leaving the Senate, registered to vote in Maryland, which Republicans believe would make him ineligible to run for state office, due to the state’s five year residency requirement. In the past, while some candidates in other states have gotten around such rules, many others have been forced to prematurely end their campaigns. If Breaux decides to roll the dice and run for Governor, he can expect quite a legal battle just to even get on the ballot. If Blanco decides to not run, and Breaux is disqualified, the Governorship may wind up going Republican virtually by default.

As for the GOP, there appear to be at least two other candidates running in addition to Congressman Bobby Jindal, but few doubt that he will not secure at least a spot in a mid-November runoff. The embittered Blanco would still be an underdog to Jindal in a one-on-one race.

March Rating- Leans Republican

Mississippi Governor-
There will not be much excitement in this race, as popular first term Republican Governor Haley Barbour is expected to cruise to reelection, now that the filing deadline has passed, and no formidable Democrat, such as ex-Governor Ray Mabus, who had been mentioned for months, filed to run.

Six Democrats did file and the person who would appear to be the most likely to emerge after a late August runoff would be former State Senator Bill Renick. At this point, there seems to be no reason to expect that he will even make Barbour break a sweat.

March Rating- Safe Republican