How Many Ex-Governors Will Win?
By John Gramlich, Staff Writer
Ehrlich is one of five former governors nationwide seeking to return to power next week. Republican Terry Branstad in Iowa and Democrats Jerry Brown in California, Roy Barnes in Georgia and John Kitzhaber in Oregon also will be on the ballot. And much as this campaign season has confounded and surprised prognosticators who focus on congressional races - particularly when it comes to Tea Party candidates - the five state contests involving ex-governors also lack a simple narrative.
Branstad in Iowa appears the best-positioned former governor to win. The four-term chief executive of the 1980s and 1990s has consistently led incumbent Democrat Chet Culver by double digits in the polls, including by a stunning 19 points in a Des Moines Register poll in September. A subsequent poll by the Culver campaign has found the incumbent trailing Branstad by eight points - a significant disadvantage in its own right.
In California, a furor over Republican nominee Meg Whitman's hiring of an illegal immigrant housekeeper has provided a late surge to Brown, who is currently the state's attorney general and served as governor between 1975 and 1983. A Los Angeles Times poll over the weekend found that Brown's lead over Whitman has doubled in the last month, rising to 13 points. "The shift comes after a tumultuous month for the Republican candidate that has led some voters to question her veracity and her handling of accusations" from her former housekeeper, The Times reported.
The remaining two races, in Georgia and Oregon, appear to be the closest at this late stage. President Obama visited Portland, Oregon, last week to campaign for Kitzhaber, who is locked in a "dead heat" against Republican nominee and former Portland Trailblazer basketball player Chris Dudley, according to late polling from The Oregonian . In Georgia, the Democrat Barnes has fared surprisingly well in a solidly red state, but the polls appear to be moving in favor of Nathan Deal , a former congressman who secured the Republican nomination. (Read previous Stateline coverage of Oregon's gubernatorial race here , and Georgia's race here .)