Monday, October 04, 2010

Tennessee Governor Race

Race of the Day

Tennessee Governor

October 4, 2010
29 Days Until Election Day

Status: Democrat Incumbent
2008 Presidential Result: Red State (South)

Outlook: Likely Republican

Despite it's conservative southern learn, the Volunteer State narrowly elected Democrat Phil Bredesen as Governor in 2002, ending an eight year Republican reign. In 2006, Bredesen was easily reelected, but with him term limited in 2010, the GOP is very bullish about winning back the top job in Nashville.

Seeing the appeal of an open race contest, a large field of Republican candidates emerged in Tennessee, but on the day of the August primary, the three main contenders were Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam, Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey, and Congressman Zach Wamp. For a while, it had looked to many like the well-funded Wamp would be the GOP front-runner. There was also talk for a bit in 2009, that Bredesen was set to depart the state to join the Obama Administration which would have elevated Ramsey (who as Lt. Governor is not popularly elected in the state) to the Governorship. Bredesen stayed put though and Haslam, believed to be the most moderate of the three contenders began to surge ahead in the final weeks. Ultimately, Haslam, who is also a part owner of the AA baseball affiliate of the Chicago Cubs, benefited from opponents splitting the vote and easily won the primary. In some ways, that victory was similar to that of former Knoxville Mayor Bob Corker in 2006 who defeated two more well-known conservative opponents to win a GOP U.S. Senate primary.

The Democrats also had a wide field of potential and announced candidates at one point, but seeing the Governorship contest as uphill, there were some dropouts, as well as other candidates switching to what they viewed as more winnable races. Thus, the only Democrat to be on the primary ballot was businessman Mike McWherter, whose father was Governor from 1987-1995. This is the younger McWherter's first bid for elected office.

While any of the Republicans would have been favorites to win the general election, the nomination of Haslam appears to give Republicans the candidate who stands the best chance of making inroads with non-Republicans, and thus a victory by potentially the widest margin. The most recent poll from Rasmussen Reports puts the Republican nominee ahead by 25 points, and while the eventual voting totals may indicate a somewhat closer race, very few expect Haslam to be denied in his quest to become Governor.

Haslam campaign link (an appropriately red campaign theme for what should be a Red State) :

2010 Governor races predicted thus far: 7 D, 24 R, 1 I
Predicted Gubernatorial totals thus far: 14 D, 30 R, 1 I