Saturday, June 09, 2007

2007 Races: June Edition

Kentucky Governor-

With the primaries completed and the nominees set, Kentucky Democrats are feeling extremely optimistic about a pickup opportunity.

There was a time earlier in the year, when it looked like embattled Republican Governor Ernie Fletcher would be extremely unlikely even to win renomination against primary opponent, former Congresswoman Ann Northup, but he managed to run an effective primary campaign, rebounding in popularity among many conservatives, and won a comfortable victory a few weeks back.

Republicans had been hoping, and many people had been assuming that the multi-candidate Democrat field would necessitate a runoff five weeks after the primary. However, former Lt. Governor Steve Beshear managed to peak at the right time and pull in enough of the late deciding voters to barely surpass the 40 percent mark. In fact, the second place finisher, businessman Bruce Lunsford had said he would not have contested a run-off, even if he had been eligible.

Thus, with both Fletcher's victory over Northup and Beshear's outright primary victory, a general election match up was set up earlier than many anticipated and at this point, the Democrat challenger is the favorite.

While some polling data has seen Fletcher beginning to get higher job approval ratings, some also show that he remains fundamentally unpopular in the Bluegrass State and the first of the general election polls show Beshear with a sizable double digit lead over the incumbent.

Fletcher should probably be able to make a bit more of a competitive race focusing on Beshear's perceived liberalism and the Governor's own strengths as a campaigner, as demonstrated in his primary win over Northup. However, one has to wonder if he will truly have enough time to make up as big of a margin as he may be facing.

June rating: Leans Democrat

Louisiana Governor-

After several turbulent months in Louisiana Gubernatorial politics, things have appeared to settle down a bit as both parties await the September filing deadline before the October jungle primary.

Republicans continue to be heavily united behind Congressman Bobby Jindal while the two most prominent announced Democrats in the field are State Senator Walter Boasso, a recent party switcher from the GOP and State Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell.

With Governor Kathleen Blanco, Lt. Governor Mitch Landrieu, and former U.S. Senator John Breaux all out of the running, there continues to be some speculation about other Democrats jumping in, including curiously enough, New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin, who needless to say would have a hard time politically on a statewide basis.

At this point, even indicted Democrat Congressman Bill Jefferson would have to put some "cold hard cash" down on Jindal as the favorite to pick up this seat.

June rating: Likely Republican

Mississippi Governor-

Trial attorney John Arthur Eaves Jr. is still the presumptive Democrat nominee for Governor. On social issues, Eaves is about as staunch a conservative as any Deep South Republican, but on economic matters is far more populist. Whatever profile Eaves possesses, it still seems very much of a long shot for him to be seen as having much of a chance against one-term GOP Governor Haley Barbour.

June rating: Safe Republican