In most states, governorships last four years and governors can be re-elected for a maximum of two consecutive terms.
It’s been eight years since a wave of GOP governors took office, and the battles to replace those spots will be fierce. Over 200 individuals have announced official campaigns, with new announcements coming almost daily.
“The rash of new candidates is unlike anything political observers have seen,” reports The Hill.
There are 17 states where current governors have reached the end of their maximum term; 13 of those outgoing governors are Republican.
In other states, including Alabama, Iowa, and South Carolina, governors running for re-election face challenges within their own parties.
"In states with two-term governors, whether they be Republican or Democrat, the rising stars in either party have been blocked from taking the next step. This is their opportunity, and if they miss this opportunity they may have to wait another eight years,” says Phil Cox, a former executive director of the Republican Governors Association.
Seven members of Congress are running for governorships, possibly because their role as lawmakers have become more onerous.
“If you are in Congress right now, Congress is incredibly dysfunctional, it’s not a fun place to work, and they’re not getting anything done,” says Cox. “Statewide office is far more attractive because it’s a somewhat less partisan environment.”
Some gubernatorial candidates, who have never held office, are taking advantage of the general negative attitude towards politicians by branding themselves as outsiders bent on change.
“People are fired up to run for office, and there’s an increasing recognition that the Democratic Party has to rebuild through the states,
says Jared Leopold, a spokesperson for the Democratic Governors Association. “Governors can make a huge impact on policy.”
As it stands, there are 33 GOP governors – more than the party has had in 95 years. There are 16 Democratic governors and 1 Independent (Alaska). There will be 38 races this cycle, and the winners will be in office when the next round of redistricting takes place in 2021.
Of the 17 states where governors have reached their term limit, only 5 voted for a party different than that of their governor. Maine has a Democratic governor but voted for Trump. Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, and New Mexico have Republican governors but voted for Hillary.
Of the 21 elections where governors are not at the end of their term limit, only four have announced they will not be running for re-election: Connecticut, Idaho, Minnesota, and Wyoming. All four states aligned with their governor in the last presidential election.