DemDaily: The 2022 Governors Races: Pennsylvania and Wisconsin

April 15, 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.

In the three 2019 gubernatorial contests, Democrats held onto Louisiana and flipped 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 - to the GOP.

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.

DemDaily: The 2022 Governors Races: Arizona and Georgia 3/13/22
DemDaily: The 2022 Governors Races: Kansas, Michigan & Nevada 3/14/22

2020 Presidential Vote: Biden 50%, Trump 48.8%
Filing Deadline: March 8, 2021
Primary: May 17, 2022
Rating: Toss Up

In one of the country's most politically divided states, which Biden won by 1.26%, term limits prevent two-term Democratic Governor Tom Wolf from running again.

Attorney General Josh Shapiro, who has the endorsement of Wolf and the Pennsylvania Democratic Party, has cleared the primary field.

Shapiro was elected in 2016 to succeed Democratic incumbent Kathleen Kane, narrowly winning the general election against Republican State Senator John Rafferty Jr., 51.4% to 48.6%. He was reelected in 2020, fending off GOP challenger Heather Heidelbaugh 50.9% to 46.3%.

Shapiro previously served as a member of the Montgomery County Board of Commissioners from 2012 to 2017, and in the State House from Montgomery County for four terms.

In the high-profile contest, which is expected to exceed the $64 million spent in 2018, Shapiro had raised $17.95 million as of March 31, 2022, with a war chest of over $16 million cash on hand.

By contrast, the Republican primary includes nine candidates: State Senator Doug Mastriano, former Congressman Lou Barletta, former US Attorney William McSwain, former Delaware County Councilmember Dave White, and State Senate President Jake Corman. Others include Montgomery County Commissioner Joe Gale, American Conservative Union Vice Chair Charlie Gerow, former Congresswoman Melissa Hart, and cardiothoracic surgeon Nche Zama.

While former President Donald Trump has not endorsed in the race, he released a statement this week saying he will not be endorsing McSwain.

Trump called McSwain, who served as U.S. Attorney for Pennsylvania’s Eastern District under Trump, “a coward, who let our country down...who did nothing on the massive Election Fraud that took place in Philadelphia and throughout the commonwealth."

As of March 31, 2022, Corman, the top elected Republican in the Senate, had raised $2.65 million and had $271,000 cash on hand, which included $200,000 from his senatorial PAC and a $90,000 loan from his mother.

McSwain, who has the endorsement of the influential Commonwealth Partners PAC, had raised $2.25 million and had $1.7 million on hand. Mastriano had raised $1.4 million and had just $1.1 in the bank, followed by Barletta with over $674,000 in total contributions and over $356,000 on hand. That included close to $200,000 from his PAC, Change PA. The remaining candidates reported at or below $300,000 raised.

Also on the ballot: The toss-up US Senate contest to replace retiring Republican Senator Pat Toomey. Other races: US House (17), Lieutenant Governor, State Senate and State House.

Just one month away from the May 17th primary, the Republican contest is still wide open. A March 30-April 10, 2022 Franklin and Marshall College survey of registered voters showed Mastriano leading with 15%, followed by McSwain at 12%, Barletta at 10%, White at 5%, and Corman at 2%. Other candidates totaled 14% and 40% of respondents were undecided (MOE: ±6.6).

2020 Presidential Vote: Biden 49.4%, Trump 48.8%
Filing Deadline: June 1, 2021
Primary: August 9, 2022
Rating: Toss Up

In battleground state Wisconsin, Democratic Governor Tony Evers is running for reelection. Evers, who unseated controversial incumbent Republican Governor Scott Walker 49.54% to 48.44% in 2018, helped candidate Joe Biden reclaim Wisconsin as a blue, if not purple state in 2022.

Evers previously served as the Wisconsin Superintendent of Public Instruction for ten years. As of January 31, 2022, Evers had raised $10.38 million with over $7.1 million cash on hand.

He faces a tough reelection battle against likely Republican nominee Rebecca Kleefisch who served as Walker's Lieutenant Governor.

Kleefisch, who entered the race in September of 2021, had raised $3.28 million as of January 31, 2022 and had $2.4 million cash on hand. Her closest competitor is former Wisconsin Board of Veterans Affairs member and 2018 US Senate candidate Kevin Nicholson, who entered the race in late January 2022 and has not yet reported his numbers.

Nicholson, who lost the Republican Senate primary to Leah Vukmir in 2018, raised $3.62 million for his Senate bid.

State Assemblyman Timothy Ramthun, Adam Fischer and James Kellen are also running.

A March 31-April 2, 2022 Remington Research Group survey of likely voters, sponsored by Fight For Wisconsin which supports Nicholson, showed Kleefisch at 42%, Nicholson at 29%, other candidates 4%, and 26% undecided (MOE +/-2.9%).

There is no recent general election polling. The latest, conducted by Redfield & Wilton Strategies in August 2021, showed Evers at 39%, Kleefisch at 38%, others at 3% and undecided 14% (MOE: ± 3.6%).

Also on the ballot: Incumbent Republican US Senator Ron Johnson is running for reelection and is likely to face Democratic frontrunner and former Evers' Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes. Other races: Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, Secretary of State and Treasurer, US House (8), State Senate and State Assembly.

DemDaily: The 2022 Governors Races: Arizona and Georgia 4/13/22
DemDaily: The 2022 Governors Races: Kansas, Michigan & Nevada 4/14/22

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Sources: Ballotpedia, FiveThirtyEight, Cook Political Report, Inside Election, Sabato's Crystal Ball, Morning Call, WKOK, City and State, CNN, SOS

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