Governing Magazine: With Strong Nominees, Republicans Can Win Deep-Blue Connecticut and Oregon Governorships

Traditionally blue states of Connecticut and Oregon have become top pick-up opportunities for Republicans in this year’s gubernatorial races.

With unpopular incumbent Democrat governors and strong Republican nominees campaigning on job growth and economic reform, the traditionally blue states of Connecticut and Oregon have become top pick-up opportunities for Republicans in this year’s gubernatorial races.

In a new report, Governing Magazinewrites that “In the blue states of Connecticut and Oregon, Republicans have fighting chances at winning governors’ offices currently held by Democrats.”

In Connecticut, Governing noted Democrat Governor Dan Malloy’s abysmal approval rating, which threatens to drag down his party’s nominee, Ned Lamont, in contrast to Stefanowski’s commitment to reversing tax hikes imposed by Malloy and his Democrat allies. In Oregon, Governing highlighted Brown’s low approval numbers and her scandalous issues with the state’s foster care system while emphasizing Buehler’s support for lower taxes on working families, which has resonated with voters.

Governing Magazine reports:


In the blue states of Connecticut and Oregon, Republicans have fighting chances at winning governors’ offices currently held by Democrats.

In Connecticut, outgoing Democrat Dannel Malloy is one of the least popular governors in the country, with an approval rating of around 20 percent. He’s raised taxes substantially, yet the state faces a budget shortfall in the neighborhood of $2 billion. Connecticut remains wealthy, but it’s been shedding jobs and population as job creation has lagged well behind the nation as a whole.

‘Structurally, it is indeed possible for the Republicans to take the governorship,’ says Matt Hennessy, a Democratic consultant in Connecticut. ‘Malloy is actually less popular than Trump, which is really saying something…’

If you doubt a blue state like Connecticut would elect a Republican in a Democratic year, look around the neighborhood. Republican Govs. Charlie Baker of Massachusetts, Phil Scott of Vermont and Chris Sununu of New Hampshire are all favored to win second terms. Rhode Island Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo holds a single-digit polling lead over Republican Mayor Allan Fung in their rematch. And in Maine, the race to succeed GOP Gov. Paul LePage is a tossup.

In Connecticut, Republicans have steadily been gaining ground on Malloy’s watch. A decade ago, Democrats held a 114-37 majority in the state House and a 24-12 advantage in the state Senate. In 2016, however, Republicans tied the state Senate and came within four narrow losses of a House majority.

‘I honestly believe that in this state, it’s really about how government policy is impacting local people here in Connecticut,’ says J.R. Romano, who chairs the state GOP. ‘It’s getting harder and harder to be an average hard-working family in this state, and that’s a direct result of Dan Malloy’s policies. The cost of living is rising. Your taxes are rising…’

The race may come down to which battlefield of issues the campaign is fought on, Hennessy says. If Stefanowski is able to keep the focus on taxes, that could be problematic for Lamont…

The contours of the race in Oregon are different. There, GOP state Rep. Knute Buehler is running against Democratic incumbent Gov. Kate Brown by presenting himself as a moderate. Most prognosticators give Brown the edge, but Real Clear Politics changed its rating of the race last week to tossup…

As in Connecticut, Buehler is complaining that taxes are too high. Meanwhile, Brown’s approval ratings have been in the low 40s, with nearly as many Oregonians disapproving of her job performance. Brown’s cap-and-trade proposal has gone nowhere, and the Department of Human Services has been hit with numerous complaints over the past couple of years for its handling of the foster care system..

A poll released last week by an Ohio-based firm showed Brown ahead by just a single percentage point…