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The 6 GOP Governors Democrats Hope To Unseat In 2014

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AP Photo / Scott Bauer

Wisconsin: Gov. Scott Walker

Gov. Scott Walker may have survived a recall election already in his first term, which started after he gained national attention for supporting a bill that would have limited the collective bargaining rights of public sector unions in Wisconsin, but Democrats hope a general election will make him vulnerable. The battle over collective bargaining helped raise Walker's profile in the national Republican party, and now he's regularly mentioned on presidential shortlists.

Democrats, meanwhile, have criticized Walker citing him signing a controversial bill requiring women seeking an abortion to first get an ultrasound -- legislation that was so unpopular in Virginia that Democrats point to it as a major factor in the gubernatorial on Tuesday.

Democrats are excited about Democratic challenger and businesswoman Mary Burke who recently announced her candidacy for governor. A recent Marquette University Law School poll found Burke trailing Walker by about 2 percentage points.

Pennsylvania: Gov. Tom Corbett

Recent polling hasn't had any good news for Corbett. An October Franklin & Marshall poll found that nearly half of all Pennsylvania Republicans want the first-term governor to step down so the GOP can run a different candidate in 2014.

Democrats are lining up against him, and it's easy to see why. In early October compared same-sex marriage to incest between siblings. He also was the first governor of a blue state to turn down the Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act.

Florida: Gov. Rick Scott

Both local and national Democrats have their knives out to unseat Scott, a longtime target on the left who's gotten some of the blame for Florida's struggling economy over the years. Florida's economy has been on the upswing recently but Democrats hope that its relatively weak growth will make Scott vulnerable. Make no mistake, Scott is a conservative governor that's won the ire of Democrats on issues like abortion.

He's also fielded a fair amount of criticism for a move to purge Florida voter rolls. Recently former Gov. Charlie Crist (D), who has rebranded himself after holding the mansion as a Republican, jumped into the race to unseat Scott. Most Democrats are optimistic that Crist has enough public stature to win the governor's mansion. Scott seems worried too. He's already begun airing aggressive ads attacking Crist from when he was a Republican.

Ohio: Gov. John Kasich

Ohio Gov. John Kasich got blowback in 2011 for trying to restrict bargaining rights of unionized workers in the state. His time as governor has also included signing a restrictive new abortion law, which Democrats were quick to criticize.

Polling has shown Kasich to be vulnerable, and Democrats feel that Kasich, after presenting a "sober" view of the state's economy on a recent Meet the Press appearance, is beatable. Kasich's Democratic challenger is Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald.

Michigan: Gov. Rick Snyder

Michigan has struggled thanks to the economic woes in Detroit and politicians around the state --including Snyder -- have received the brunt of the blame since Detroit filed for bankruptcy. Snyder has also fielded criticism from Democrats over the years for signing right-to-work legislation into law.

Democrats have released polling showing that Snyder is vulnerable in a matchup against former Rep. Mark Schauer (D-MI), who's already running for governor. But other polls suggest that Snyder may be relatively safe. An EPIC-MRA poll showed Snyder up 8 percentage points over Schauer, 44 percent to 36 percent.

Snyder seems to be gearing up for a tough re-election fight. He released his first campaign ad 13 months before election day.

Maine: Gov. Paul LePage

The Maine gubernatorial election got some national buzz this week both because Maine Gov. Paul LePage set off his re-election campaign and because Rep. Mike Michaud (D-ME), a top tier candidate in the gubernatorial race came out as gay.

Still, the 2014 gubernatorial race in Maine will likely be focused on eyebrow raising statements LePage has made over the years, including saying that a Democratic member of the Maine senate "claims to be for the people, but he's the first one to give it to the people without providing Vaseline," and a report that said LePage accused President Barack Obama of hating white people (LePage denies ever saying that). A post at FiveThirtyEight.com in April found LePage with one of the highest disapproval averages in the country.

Update:

The State newspaper of South Carolina contacted the Democratic Governor's Association to find out where South Carolina's gubernatorial race landed on Democrats' list. Spokesman Danny Kanner said unseating South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (R) is a "top priority" in 2014.

"Nikki Haley is so vulnerable and we have a great candidate," Kanner told the South Carolina newspaper. "We're already involved, already working with the campaign."

Democratic state Sen. Vincent Sheheen (SC) is running against Haley.

A Democratic poll released by the DGA showed Sheheen trailing Haley by only four percentage points but a poll released by a Republican pollster found Haley leading by 9 percentage points.

About The Author

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Daniel Strauss is a reporter for Talking Points Memo. He was previously a breaking news reporter for The Hill newspaper and has written for Politico, Roll Call, The American Prospect, and Gaper's Block. He has also interned at Democracy: A Journal of Ideas and The New Yorker. Daniel grew up in Chicago and graduated from the University of Michigan with a B.A. in History. At Michigan he helped edit Consider, a weekly opinion magazine. He can be reached at daniel@talkingpointsmemo.com.