Five Ex-Governors on Ballot in November

Georgia voters on Tuesday (July 20) made Roy Barnes the latest ex-governor to take a big step toward getting his old job back again. Barnes won the Democratic gubernatorial primary and will face the winner of a Republican runoff between Nathan Deal, a former Georgia congressman, and Karen Handel, a former secretary of state.

The commanding victory over six other Democrats places Barnes in the company of four more former governors — Jerry Brown in California, Terry Branstad in Iowa, Robert Ehrlich in Maryland and John Kitzhaber in Oregon — who will have the chance to return to their old jobs in November. Brown and Kitzhaber are Democrats; Branstad and Ehrlich are Republicans.

While the plethora of former governors suggests that primary voters trust old hands with the reins of state government this year, there are few guarantees about what will happen in November. What seems true at this early stage is that Democratic former governors — even in reliably Democratic states — are running into the same political headwinds that their party faces nationally.

In California, for instance, Brown is facing a strong challenge from former eBay CEO Meg Whitman, a billionaire who has the potential to dramatically outspend the ex-governor and current attorney general. A Rasmussen poll last week found Whitman in a virtual tie, considering the margin of error, at 47 percent to 46.

California's northern neighbor, Oregon, is another "blue" state that features a matchup of a former governor and a political outsider — in this case, former Portland Trailblazers basketball player Chris Dudley. A separate Rasmussen poll found that the conditions in Oregon are very similar to those in California, with Dudley holding a 47 to 45 percent lead over Kitzhaber.

In Iowa, polling has shown Branstad with a commanding lead over the incumbent, Democrat Chet Culver, in an increasingly bruising race. Meanwhile, Maryland's race — a rematch between Ehrlich and current Democratic Governor Martin O'Malley — recently showed a statistical dead heat .


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