Democrats look to state governor races for some victories in November

Chris Moody | Contributor

Delaware Gov. Jack Markell will be the first to admit that there is “a lot of anger” among voters in the weeks leading up to the November midterm elections, but as chairman of the Democratic Governors Association, he thinks the battles for governors’ mansions may be one bright spot in a sea of congressional races that are not looking promising for his Party.

“Conventional wisdom suggests that the fate of Democrats at the state level is inextricably linked to the fate of Democrats in Congress,” Markell said in a speech Tuesday. “The conventional wisdom is wrong.”

Markell is leading the effort to elect Democratic governors across the country, a task that may not be nearly as daunting as winning most of the impending congressional races in which the Party could face some major losses.

Based upon the group’s last report this summer, the DGA has $22 million on hand, while their counterpart, the Republican Governor’s Association, has almost twice that amount. Despite the fund raising gap, Markell insisted that Democrats are on the offensive in major states like Florida, California, and Texas. In all, there are 37 open races for governor this cycle, and many appear undetermined at this point.

Real Clear Politics tracking numbers list eight states as possible toss-ups, with eight more as either leaning Democratic or safely within the Party’s grasp. While Republicans have eight governorships listed as “safe,” all of the Democratic state chiefs are vulnerable.

While poll numbers suggest keeping the majority could prove to be an uphill battle, Democrats are trying to remind voters that their anger should not rest only with the party in power. With Election Day less than four weeks away, Democrats are downplaying a Republican messaging campaign that paints the midterms as a vote for or against the policies of President Obama.

“This election will not be a referendum on Democrats, but a choice between Democrats and the alternative,” Markell said, echoing Vice President Joseph Biden’s speech in Minnesota the same day, in which he told a crowd of students that the midterms should not be a referendum on voter frustration.

Markell argued that Republicans were running their campaigns purely on hopes that voters would channel their anger toward the majority party simply because they were in charge. He insisted that Americans weren’t actually frustrated with Democrats.

“Republicans are counting on the electorate being blindingly hostile. They are hoping that a frustrated electorate provides only downside for Democrats, and they are banking on it,” he said. “But what is the spark that ignites that anger? It isn’t incumbents generally, and it’s not Democrats specifically. It’s political posturing.”

He added: “Voters aren’t looking to punish a party.”

Jessica Puente contributed to this report.

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