WASHINGTON — Never before have so many governorships been up for grabs — and with so much at stake.
The races come just ahead of once-in-a-decade congressional and legislative redistricting to reflect the U.S. population of the 2010 census, a process in which governors will play a central role. Of the 37 governorships on the ballot, more than half are open seats. And many of the contests are in prime 2012 presidential battleground states.
Democrats control 26 governorships and must defend 19 in November. Sheer math, the sour economy and historical trends favoring the out-of-power party in midterm elections suggest big Republican statehouse gains.
“We are now tasked with remaking the political map,” proclaims the website of the Republican Governors Association, headed by Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, a potential presidential candidate.
Republicans are hoping for eight or more pickups. “We can’t wait until 2012 to start taking our country back,” says Barbour.
Democrats are striving to minimize losses and pull off some upsets.