Cook political report shifts eight governor’s races toward GOP

Andrew Trunsky, DCNF

The nonpartisan Cook Political Report on Friday shifted eight high-stakes gubernatorial races toward Republicans as Democrats continue to face political headwinds.

Ratings in Michigan, Wisconsin and Nevada, three pivotal battleground states, shifted from “Lean Democratic” to “Toss Up.” Each has a first-term Democratic incumbent — Govs. Gretchen Whitmer, Tony Evers and Steve Sisolak, respectively — fighting to win reelection in a state that President Joe Biden won by fewer than four points in 2020.

Other states that saw changes were Maine, New Mexico, Oregon, Iowa and South Carolina. While Democrats remain favorites in the first three, Cook noted, the ratings in Iowa and South Carolina both moved from “Likely Republican” to “Solid Republican.”

Just one governor’s race shifted in Democrats’ favor, with the rating in New York moving from “Likely Democratic” to “Solid Democratic.”

In Maine, former Republican Gov. Paul LePage is seeking a rematch against Gov. Janet Mills, who succeeded him. Republicans have also targeted Democratic New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and term-limited Democratic Oregon Gov. Kate Brown — who one poll recently pegged as the most unpopular governor in the country — but Democrats remain favorites in the states which Biden handily won last November.

No high-profile Democratic challenger has sought to oust Republican Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds, Cook noted, while an unfavorable political environment for Democrats was the reason behind Cook’s decision to shift its South Carolina rating, despite former Democratic Rep. Joe Cunningham’s candidacy.

The shifts are not the only ones Cook made this week. On Wednesday, it shifted the Massachusetts governor’s race from “Solid Republican” to “Lean Democrat” after incumbent Republican Gov. Charlie Baker opted to retire instead of running for a third term, while it shifted Georgia’s race from “Lean Republican” to “Toss Up” after Stacey Abrams said she would challenge incumbent Gov. Brian Kemp, setting up a potential high-stakes rematch.

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