DemDaily: The 2022 Governors Races: Arizona and Georgia

April 13, 2022 

Of the 50 US states, Democrats hold 22 gubernatorial seats to Republicans' 28 seats. Of the five US territories, four are held by Democrats and one by a Republican.

United States gubernatorial elections will be held in 36 states in 2022. Democrats are defending 16 seats, including three open seats, and Republicans are defending 20, including five open seats. In addition, three territories will hold gubernatorial elections, with Democrats defending two and Republicans one.

The Landscape
The 2018 midterms, when the same 36 states were up last, were a boon for Democrats, who won 16 seats and flipped seven -- their greatest gains since 1982.

Although Trump had won 20 of those states in 2016, a dissatisfied electorate rebelled two years into his controversial term, laying the groundwork for Trump's defeat in 2020.

In the three 2019 gubernatorial contests, Democrats were able to hold their seat in Louisiana and flip the governor's seat in Kentucky, while Republicans held on to the open Mississippi seat.

While the 2020 presidential election marked a number of historic shifts in voter performance, the status of the 11 gubernatorial elections up that year remained relatively unchanged. Just one state, Montana, flipped political control - increasing Republicans' share of the nation's governorships to 27 compared to Democrats' 23.

In the two 2021 gubernatorial elections, Democratic incumbent Governor Phil Murphy narrowly won reelection, while Democrats lost the open Virginia seat in a devasting blow that reversed many of the gains that had placed the Commonwealth in the blue category just two years before.

As a state's highest-ranking elected official, Governors are administrators of their state, responsible for dictating policy, overseeing the budget, agencies, national guard and its executive branch. Politically governors are more independent -- in practice and in the eyes of the voters. There are 10 states where both state legislative chambers are controlled by one party but have elected governors of a different party. In all but two states, Vermont and New Hampshire, governors serve four years.

The Toss Ups
Now less than seven months out from the November 8, 2022 elections, the focus is on seven gubernatorial seats that are considered a "Toss Up" in Arizona, Georgia, Kansas, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.

Arizona
2020 Presidential Vote: Biden 49.4% v.Trump 49.1%
Filing Deadline: April 4, 2022
Primary: August 2, 2022
Rating: Toss Up

Arizona's battleground contest to succeed Republican Governor Doug Ducey, who is term-limited, is expected to be one of 2022's nastiest general elections.

While Democrats successfully flipped both US Senate seats in 2018 and 2020, and won Arizona’s 11 electoral votes in 2020, the GOP still narrowly controls the legislature, where Republicans hold small majorities in the State House (31-29) and Senate (16-14).

Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, who gained national attention as a defender of democracy in the GOP assault on the 2020 Arizona presidential vote, is the clear frontrunner, leading her two Democratic primary opponents by more than 35% in early polling.

Hobbs, who is a social worker by trade, previously served as a state senator from 2013 to 2019 and as a state representative from 2011 to 2013.

She was elected Secretary of State in 2018 with 50.43% of the vote, defeating GOP nominee and millionaire businessman Steve Gaynor by just over 20,000 votes.

As of December 31, 2021, Hobbs had raised $2,945,390 with $1,355,626 cash on hand. State Representative Aaron Lieberman had raised $1,206,015, including $150,000 of his own funds, and former Nogales Mayor Marco López has raised $1,087,306, including $235,000 of his own funds.

Trump-endorsed Republican frontrunner and former Fox news anchor Kari Lake, has been on the attack since she and Hobbs entered the race last June, calling for Hobbs' imprisonment for certifying Biden's 2020 victory in Arizona.

Lake leads a Republican field of eight candidates, including 2018 SOS nominee Gaynor, former Congressman Matt Salmon, who boasts the endorsement of US Senators Ted Cruz (TX) and the Club for Growth, and Arizona Board of Regents member Karrin Taylor Robson, along with four others.

Gaynor is leading the fundraising race on paper, with $6.28 million reported as of December 31, 2021, which includes $5 million he loaned to his campaign.

Robson pumped $1.95 million into her campaign for $3.73 million total raised, with just under $3 million cash on hand. Lake had raised $1.46 million with $382,840 cash on hand, and Salmon reported $1.18 million raised and $493,445 on hand.

A March 26-27, 2022 HighGround Public Affair poll of likely voters showed Lake comfortably ahead with 30.3%, Robson at 9.5%, Salmon at 4.9%, Gaynor at 3%, and 45% undecided (MOE:+/-6%).

A February 11-13, 2022 Data Orbital poll of likely general election voters put Lake ahead of Hobbs, 42.7% to 41.4% (MOE:+/-3.1%).

Also on the ballot: US Senate seat (incumbent Democratic Senator Mark Kelly), US House (9), Attorney General, Secretary of State, Treasurer, all State Senate and State House seats.

Georgia
2020 Presidential Vote: Biden 49.5% v. Trump 49.2%
Filing Deadline: March 11, 2022
Primary: May 24, 2022
Rating: Toss Up

In what could be 2022's highest-profile gubernatorial contest, national voting rights advocate and former Georgia State House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams (D) is once again vying for the governor's mansion.

Abrams, who has no primary opposition, came within 55,000 votes of defeating current Republican Governor Brian Kemp in 2018 and turned out more voters than any Democrat in Georgia history. The contest was also ground zero for the country's most bitter recount and legal battle following widespread allegations of voter suppression under Kemp, who oversaw most of the process as Secretary of State. Kemp disqualified over 1.4 million, predominantly low-income and minority voter registrations during his term.

Kemp is running for reelection but faces formidable opposition in former US Senator David Perdue, who lost his 2020 Senate reelection bid to Democrat Jon Ossoff, 50.6% to 49.4%. Perdue, who continues to claim the election was "stolen," supported an unsuccessful lawsuit by Trump allies challenging the results.

Trump, who has endorsed Perdue, has targeted Kemp for defeat since Kemp refused to overturn the 2020 presidential election results in Georgia.

Regardless, Perdue had raised just $1.1 million as of January 31, 2022, with $871,000 cash on hand. In contrast, Kemp reported $7.4 million raised and, with funds from his previous campaign, $12.7 million cash on hand.

As of January 31, 2022, just two months into her campaign, Abrams had raised a whopping $9.3 million and had $7.2 million on hand.

An April 1-3, 2022 Emerson College poll of likely voters had Kemp leading Perdue 43% to 32%, with 8% for another candidate and 17% undecided (MOE: ± 4.3%).

In the same poll, measuring registered voters, Kemp led Abrams 50% to 44%, with 5% undecided. An Abrams-Perdue head-to-head showed 49% to 44% in favor of Perdue (MOE: ± 3.0%).

Also on the ballot: US Senate (incumbent Democrat Raphael Warnock), US House (14), eight statewide offices including Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General and Secretary of State, and all State Senate and State House seats.

Tomorrow: The 2022 Governors Races: Kansas and Michigan

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Sources: Ballotpedia, FiveThirtyEight, Cook Political Report, Inside Election, Sabato's Crystal Ball, Arizona Mirror, AP, Bloomberg, Politico, Axios

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