Jim Pillen wins Republican primary for Nebraska governor

Jim Pillen defeated eight other candidates in the Republican Party primary for governor of Nebraska on May 10. Incumbent Gov. Pete Ricketts (R) was term-limited.

Along with Pillen, Charles Herbster and Brett Lindstrom led the primary field in endorsements, funding, and media attention. The Lincoln Journal Star’s Don Walton wrote on May 1 that the primary had “developed into a fluid and unpredictable [race],” which he said “[appeared] to be tightening with three candidates moving within grasp of victory.” With over 95% of precincts reporting, Pillen had received 34% of the vote to Herbster’s 30% and Lindstrom’s 26%.

Pillen, a University of Nebraska Regent, veterinarian, and the owner of Pillen Family Farms, said, “I will work to grow our economy and give every child the chance to pursue their dreams right here in Nebraska. We have to fix our broken property tax system and cut taxes. We need to modernize our tax structure, expand broadband access, and improve infrastructure across our state.” Ricketts endorsed Pillen in Jan. 2022, and the Nebraska Farm Bureau endorsed Pillen in February.

Herbster, who served as the chairman of former President Donald Trump’s (R) Agriculture and Rural Advisory Committee, described himself as a “political outsider, businessman, and fifth-generation farmer and rancher” and said it was “time for a Nebraska farmer and rancher to lead our great state toward successful solutions.” Herbster said, “America is in trouble, and if America is in trouble, Nebraska is in trouble. … Governors moving forward will have two jobs: to lead their state and to pushback against government overreach that’s coming out of Washington like a tsunami.” Trump endorsed Herbster in October 2021, and Lt. Gov. Mike Foley (R) endorsed Herbster in March 2022.

The Nebraska Examiner’s Aaron Sanderford reported on April 14 that eight women, including state Sen. Julie Slama (R), had accused Herbster of sexual misconduct occurring between 2017 and 2022. Herbster denied the allegations and said they were “part of a greater scheme calculated to try and defeat [his] candidacy.”

Trump spoke at a May 1 rally for Herbster and said he was “a fine man and … innocent of these despicable charges.”

Lindstrom, a member of the Nebraska State Senate, said he had “been at the forefront of tax reform, economic development and family issues” and had “passed legislation to make college more affordable for Nebraskans, defended the unborn, and led the fight against the opioid epidemic.”

According to Walton, Lindstrom “suggested he has the ability to connect with the next generation of leadership while also bringing valuable legislative experience to the governor’s office.” Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert and the Nebraska State Education Association endorsed Lindstrom in April 2022.

Donna Nicole Carpenter, Michael Connely, Lela McNinch, Breland Ridenour, Theresa Thibodeau, and Troy Wentz also ran in the primary.

Major independent observers rate the general election as Solid or Safe Republican. Republicans have held trifecta control of Nebraska state government since 1999.

Idaho Republican gubernatorial primary includes sitting governor and lieutenant governor for first time since 1938

Eight candidates are running in the Republican primary for governor of Idaho on May 17. Incumbent Gov. Brad Little and Janice McGeachin, the state’s current lieutenant governor, lead in fundraising and media attention.

Idaho is one of 17 states where the lieutenant governor is nominated in a separate primary and elected in a separate general election from the governor. According to the Idaho Press‘s Betsy Russell, an incumbent Idaho governor has not been challenged in a primary by the lieutenant governor since 1938. 

The Idaho Statesman’s Ryan Suppe said of Little and McGeachin, “The two former allies … have had a tense relationship in recent years.” Much of that tension has revolved around responses to the COVID-19 pandemic. In two instances in 2021, McGeachin issued executive orders related to COVID-19 measures—the first, while Little was at a Republican Governors Association meeting, banning mask mandates, and the second, while Little was at the U.S.-Mexico border, expanding a prohibition against state entities requiring vaccination or testing. Little rescinded both orders the following day.

The Idaho Constitution says that if the governor is absent from the state, the duties of the office transfer to the lieutenant governor. McGeachin and Little disagreed on whether the Idaho Constitution transfers the duties of the governor’s office to the lieutenant governor in the event of the governor’s physical absence or effective absence.

Little is running on his record, saying that his first term was “marked by historic tax relief, unparalleled red tape reduction, extraordinary economic growth, and unprecedented investments in education.” He said, “During my first term, together, we achieved billions in historic tax relief, record investments in transportation, and continued our strong support for education in Idaho.” Little said, “I am committed to continuing to lead Idaho with my goal for Idaho in mind to make Idaho the place where we all can have the opportunity to thrive, where our children and grandchildren choose to stay, and for the ones who have left to choose to return.” The National Rifle Association Political Victory Fund and the Idaho Fraternal Order of Police endorsed Little.

McGeachin said she is “running for Governor to restore the principles that have Made Idaho Great — individual liberty, state sovereignty, and traditional conservative values.” She said she is a “proven conservative leader with an established track record of working with others to promote fiscal responsibility.” McGeachin said, “My campaign has been endorsed by President Trump because I stand for America First policies including individual liberty, election integrity, a strong and secure border, school choice, energy independence, reducing taxes and regulations, and supporting American businesses.” Former President Donald Trump (R) endorsed McGeachin in Nov. 2021.

Also running in the primary are Steven Bradshaw, Ben Cannady, Ed Humphreys, Ashley Jackson, Lisa Marie, and Cody Usabel. 

Major independent observers rate the general election as Solid/Safe Republican. Republicans have had trifecta control of Idaho state government since 1995. The last time a Democrat was elected to statewide office in Idaho was for superintendent of public instruction in 2002.

Mike Kehoe announces run for governor

Missouri Lt. Gov. Mike Kehoe (R) announced on April 5 that he is running for governor in 2024. As of April 11, he is the only official candidate in the race. The current governor, Mike Parson (R), is ineligible to run for another term. He took office in 2018 after Eric Greitens resigned. Parson then won re-election in 2020. In Missouri, a governor may serve a maximum of two four-year terms. 

Kehoe was appointed to the office of lieutenant governor by Parson in 2018 and won re-election in 2020. His current term ends on Jan. 13, 2025. Prior to his appointment, Kehoe served in the Missouri State Senate from 2011 to 2018. 

The state of Missouri has a Republican triplex and a Republican trifecta. A triplex occurs when one party controls the offices of the governor, secretary of state, and attorney general. A trifecta occurs when one party controls the office of the governor and both chambers of the state legislature. 

The winner of the 2024 election will be Missouri’s 58th governor. Nationwide, there will be 11 gubernatorial seats up for election in 2024. Missouri will also be holding elections for lieutenant governor, attorney general, secretary of state, and treasurer. 

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Nineteen candidates are running in the Republican primary on May 17 for governor of Oregon

Nineteen candidates are running in the Republican primary for governor of Oregon on May 17, 2022. Incumbent Kate Brown (D) is term-limited and cannot run for re-election.

Christine Drazan, Bud Pierce, and Stan Pulliam have led in fundraising and media coverage.

All three candidates have highlighted education and public safety as critical issues for their campaigns. On education, Pierce said he would set up a non-political oversight board to look after education in the state, and Drazan said she would make the superintendent of public instruction a statewide position that she argues would be accountable to voters. Pulliam said the state should empower parents and local boards. On public safety, Drazan said she would increase funding for state troopers, while Pulliam said he would triple the size of the Oregon State Police and temporarily deploy them in Portland. Pierce said he would work with federal, state, and local authorities to better public safety.

Drazan and Pierce have said there is a homelessness crisis in the state. To tackle it, Drazan said that she would address addiction, mental health, and affordability, which she said are the root causes of homelessness. Pierce said he would address those same issues by building more affordable housing and public shelters with services to tackle addiction and mental health.

On the campaign trail, Pulliam has also focused on economic growth, saying, “we’ve got to stand up for our local small business owners and ignite the economic sector in this state.”

Pierce is an oncologist who ran as the Republican nominee in the 2016 special election to finish the term of former Gov. John Kitzhaber (D). Governor Brown, who replaced Kitzhaber after he resigned in February 2015, defeated Pierce and three other candidates in that election.

Drazan represented District 39 in the Oregon House of Representatives from 2019 until she resigned on Jan. 31, 2022. She was elected House Minority Leader in September 2019 and served in that position until Nov. 30, 2021, when she stepped down.

Pulliam is an insurance executive who has served as the mayor of Sandy, Oregon, since 2019.

Oregon’s last five governors have been Democrats, and as of March 2022, three independent election forecasters considered the general election as Likely or Lean Democratic. The last Republican to win the governorship in Oregon was Victor Atiyeh, who served from 1979 to 1987.

Also running in the primary are Raymond Baldwin, Bridget Barton, Court Boice, David Burch, Reed Christensen, Jessica Gomez, Nick Hess, Tim McCloud, Kerry McQuisten, Brandon Merritt, John Presco, Amber Richardson, Bill Sizemore, Stefan Strek, Marc Thielman, Bob Tiernan.

North Dakota term limits initiative fails to qualify for November ballot

North Dakota Secretary of State Al Jaeger (R) declared that an initiative sponsored by North Dakota for Term Limits failed to qualify for the November ballot. The initiative would have enacted term limits in North Dakota for the governor and state legislators.

The measure would have limited the governor to serving two terms and would have limited state legislators to serving eight years in the state House and eight years in the state Senate. A member of the House or Senate would not have been able to serve a term or remaining portion of a term if it would have caused the legislator to have served a cumulative time of more than eight years in the chamber. The measure would have only applied to individuals elected after the amendment was approved. The measure would have provided that the provisions of the amendment could only be amended by citizen initiative petitions and not by the state legislature.

In North Dakota, the governor and lawmakers each serve four-year terms, with no limit on the number of terms that may be served. According to the Associated Press, “more than 60 current lawmakers have served eight or more years. Two Republicans, Sen. Ray Holmberg, of Grand Forks, and Rep. Bob Martinson, of Bismarck, have each served more than 40 years.” As of 2022, 15 states had term limits on state legislators: Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, Ohio, Oklahoma, and South Dakota. As of 2022, North Dakota was one of 14 states that did not limit governors’ terms.

The initiative was filed by Jared Hendrix, Chairman of the North Dakota District 38 Republican Party, on July 1, 2021. It was approved for signature gathering on July 16, 2021. To qualify for the ballot, 31,164 valid signatures were required. Sponsors submitted 46,366 signatures on Feb. 15, 2022. On March 22, 2022, Secretary of State Al Jaeger said that proponents did not submit a sufficient number of valid signatures and that the measure would not appear on the ballot. Jaeger found that of the 46,366 signatures submitted, 17,625 (38%) were valid and 29,101 (63%) were invalid. Signatures were invalidated for notary errors; address, full name, and date omissions; duplicate signatures; and for petitions signed by those with out-of-state addresses. The Secretary of State’s Office stated they suspected signatures of being forged and that petition circulators were being paid per signature, which is against state law, and would forward their findings to the state attorney general for potential charges.

North Dakota allows citizen-initiated measures in the form of initiated state statutes, initiated constitutional amendments, and veto referendums. The completed petition must be submitted at least 120 days prior to the election. Each initiative has its own unique deadline of one year after it was approved to circulate. One other initiative has been cleared for signature gathering in North Dakota, which would require a three-fifths (60%) supermajority vote to adopt citizen-initiated and legislatively referred constitutional amendments and would limit constitutional amendments to concern a single subject. To qualify for the ballot, 31,164 valid signatures must be submitted by April 22, 2022.

A total of 53 measures appeared on statewide ballots in North Dakota from 2000 to 2020. From 2000 to 2020, the number of measures on statewide ballots during even-numbered years ranged from two to nine. Between 2000 and 2020, an average of five measures appeared on the ballot in North Dakota during even-numbered election years. Between 2000 and 2020, 58.49% (31 of 53) of the total number of measures that appeared on the statewide ballot were approved and 41.51% (22 of 53) were defeated.

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Incumbent Gov. Mike DeWine (R) faces primary challengers in May 3 election

Four candidates are running in the Republican primary election for governor of Ohio on May 3, 2022. Two candidates—incumbent Mike DeWine (R) and Jim Renacci (R)—have led the field in fundraising and media coverage. Politico’s Zach Montellaro and Michael Kruse wrote that the “primary could show just how far [support for Donald Trump (R)], even without the former president’s direct involvement, can take a challenger against a more traditional conservative governor who clashed with the most strident parts of the Republican base during the pandemic.”

Renacci criticized DeWine’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, saying DeWine “overreacted in his response to the COVID-19 pandemic” and that he “would never have done many of the draconian things that DeWine did.”

DeWine said he wanted to prevent coronavirus deaths because of his pro-life stance and that “[He] had an obligation to listen, which [he] did, to consult and then to make decisions that [he] thought were in the best interests of the people of Ohio.”

DeWine was first elected as governor in 2018. He defeated Mary Taylor (R) in the primary 60% to 40%. DeWine went on to defeat Richard Cordray (D) 50% to 47% in the general. Prior to his election as governor, he had won five statewide elections for other offices: two to serve as Ohio Attorney General, two to serve in the United States Senate, and one to serve as lieutenant governor. On his campaign website, DeWine says he “has governed as a compassionate conservative. He knows that when families are strong, Ohio communities are stronger.”

Renacci, a business owner, represented Ohio’s 16th Congressional District in Congress from 2011 to 2019. In 2018, he won the Republican primary for U.S. Senate, defeating Mike Gibbons (R) 47% to 32%. Renacci was defeated in the general election 53% to 47% by incumbent Sen. Sherrod Brown (D). In a campaign ad, Renacci said: “We need to dump Ohio’s Cuomo, Mike DeWine, end his Trump-bashing reign, and elect an Ohio first conservative who fights for you. […] When Ohio is first, America is first.”

A Republican has held the Ohio governorship since 2011. The last time an incumbent governor was defeated in Ohio was in 2010, when John Kasich (R) defeated then-Gov. Ted Strickland (D).

In Ohio, gubernatorial candidates select lieutenant gubernatorial candidates as running mates. DeWine is running with incumbent Lieutenant Governor Jon Husted (R) and Renacci is running with film producer Joe Knopp (R).

Ron Hood and Joe Blystone are also running in the gubernatorial primary.

Candidates and committees in Newsom recall raised more than $142 million and spent $145.4 million

Candidates and committees raised a combined $142 million for the Sept. 14, 2021, recall election of California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D), according to final campaign finance figures. In that election, voters retained Newsom as governor by a vote of 61.9% to 38.1%. Roughly 12.8 million people voted. The ballot asked voters first if they would like to recall Newsom, and then who they would like to elect in his place. Candidates and committees raised money for both questions.

The California Secretary of State required all candidates in the replacement question and committees registered in support or opposition to the recall effort to file final campaign finance reports on or before Jan. 31, 2022. Those reports became available publicly online in early February.

Republican candidates and committees registered in support of the recall raised $53.1 million, while Democratic candidates and committees registered in opposition of the recall raised $88.9 million. Spending totaled $145.4 million, with Republicans and support committees spending $53.5 million and Democrats and opposition committees spending $91.9 million.

On the recall question, committees raised $109.3 million and spent $113.5 million. The nine registered support committees raised $20.9 million and spent $22.2 million. The 20 registered opposition committees raised $88.4 million and spent $91.4 million. This fundraising figure is more than double the average amount raised for recent citizen-initiated ballot measures in California. Committees raised an average of $50.6 million supporting and opposing each of the 31 citizen-initiated measures on the ballot in California from 2016 to 2020.

On the replacement candidate question, candidates raised $32.7 million and spent $31.9 million. Republican candidates raised $32.2 million and spent $31.4 million, while Democratic candidates raised $484,497 and spent $529,659. Republicans Larry Elder ($16.8 million), John Cox ($9.4 million), Kevin Faulconer ($2.7 million), and Kevin Kiley ($1.1 million) all raised more than $1 million. Kevin Paffrath ($452,670) and Jacquelin McGowan ($31,827) were the only Democrats to report fundraising.

Phil Murphy becomes the first Democrat to win re-election as governor of New Jersey since 1977

Incumbent Gov. Phil Murphy (D) defeated former Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli (R), becoming the first Democrat to win re-election as governor of New Jersey since 1977.

As of 9:00 p.m. ET on Nov. 3, Murphy led Ciattarelli by a margin of 19,440 votes or 0.8 percentage points. If this margin holds, it will be 13 percentage points narrower than Murphy’s initial election in 2017. It would also make this election the closest gubernatorial election in New Jersey since Thomas Kean (R) defeated James Florio (D) by a margin of 0.1 percentage points in 1981. The results may also be subject to a recount. In New Jersey, any candidate can request a recount within 17 days of the election.

Charles Stile of NorthJersey.com called the election a “race to the bottom” in a September 2021 article, citing Murphy and Ciattarelli’s negative attacks targeting the other. Murphy used campaign ads and events to portray Ciattarelli as out of touch with the state’s electorate and wanting to introduce former President Donald Trump‘s (R) agenda to the state. Ciattarelli highlighted issues such as taxes and the handling of sexual abuse allegations to frame Murphy as an elected official who does not understand the needs of average New Jerseyites.

Murphy’s win preserves New Jersey’s Democratic trifecta, as well as its Democratic triplex. A win for Ciattarelli would have broken New Jersey’s Democratic trifecta and replaced the state’s Democratic triplex with a Republican triplex.

In New Jersey, gubernatorial and lieutenant gubernatorial candidates run together on joint tickets. Along with Murphy, incumbent Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver (D) was re-elected.

Learn more here.

Youngkin becomes first Republican to win a statewide election in Virginia since 2009

Glenn Youngkin (R) defeated former Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) in the general election for governor of Virginia on November 2, 2021, becoming the first Republican to win a statewide election in the state since 2009. Incumbent Gov. Ralph Northam (D) was unable to seek re-election due to term limits.

The Los Angeles Times‘ Janet Hook called the race “the first big test of strength between parties since Biden was elected” and said it “could set the tone for the 2022 midterm election.”

Youngkin’s victory switched Virginia to a split government after two years as a Democratic trifecta.

Youngkin is a former co-CEO and president of The Carlyle Group, a global investment firm, where he worked from 1995 to 2020. In a Candidate Connection survey submitted to Ballotpedia, Youngkin said, “We need a governor with real-world experience who can create jobs, keep businesses from leaving, put an open-for-business sign on Virginia, and create a rip-roaring economy that lifts all Virginians.” Read his full survey responses here

In more recent messaging, Youngkin released campaign advertisements addressing the teaching of race in education and the topic of critical race theory, saying McAuliffe would change Virginia’s public school curriculum if elected.

Princess Blanding (Liberation) and Paul Davis (I) also ran in the election. Blanding appeared on the general election ballot. Davis ran as a write-in candidate.

At the time of the election, Democrats had won four of the five most recent gubernatorial elections and all thirteen statewide elections in Virginia since 2012Joe Biden (D) won the state in the 2020 presidential election, receiving 54% of the vote to Donald Trump‘s (R) 44%.