Republicans could add to their advantage in state leadership by winning two races against Democrat governors this fall.
Of the three 2023 gubernatorial contests, Republicans are favored to retain one executive mansion, flip a second, and have a reasonable chance to capture the third.
Kentucky, Louisiana, and Mississippi are choosing executives this year, and the GOP holds a solid legislative majority at the state and federal level in all three. Governorships in Kentucky and Louisiana are currently held by Democrats, but voters in those states have a history of alternating parties in their choice of a governor.
This year, analysts say Mississippi is safely in Republican hands, Louisiana is leaning Republican, and Kentucky is slightly leaning Democratic.
GOP victories in these races would bring the number of states having Republican governors to 28.
In Kentucky, the polling is tilted toward Democrat incumbent Gov. Andy Beshear, but Republican Daniel Cameron has been a popular state attorney general and is within closing distance for the Nov. 7 election.
Mr. Beshear, 45, was elected to a first term in 2019. He defeated Republican Matt Bevin, who had struggled to overcome low approval ratings after signing a bill reforming teacher pensions. Mr. Beshear is the son of former Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear.
The younger Beshear is running on his record in handling crises, including the COVID-19 pandemic and natural disasters. Eastern Kentucky was devastated by flooding in 2022.
“We’ve been through a lot these past four years, and some days have been tougher than others, but I will always show up to help the people of Kentucky,” he said in a campaign ad, touting his achievements in creating job growth, providing clean drinking water, and bringing aid in the wake of disaster.
Mr. Beshear’s positions in support of abortion and same-sex marriage put him at odds with the views of nearly 60 percent of adults in socially conservative Kentucky, according to data from Pew Research.
Mr. Cameron, the GOP challenger, was elected attorney general in 2019 with 58 percent of the vote. The next year, he gained national attention for his involvement in the case of Breonna Taylor, a Louisville woman who was killed by police after they entered her apartment in a “no knock” raid to execute a search warrant.
Mr. Cameron, 37, fought mask mandates for COVID-19 and has been critical of Mr. Beshear for his handling of the pandemic. President Donald Trump has endorsed Mr. Cameron.
Mr. Beshear has led by an average of 6.2 percentage points in polls over the summer, though the most recent polls show him with a 9-point lead.
In Louisiana, Republican Jeff Landry is widely expected to best Democrat Shawn Wilson, flipping the statehouse back to red after Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards, who is constitutionally prohibited from seeking a third term, leaves office next year.
Republicans hold a supermajority in both houses of the Louisiana Legislature, and the state has supported GOP candidates for president in all but four contests since 1956. However, the governor’s mansion has traded hands consistently since the mid-1990s.
Mr. Landry, 52, was a one-term congressman, losing reelection after his district merged with another following the 2010 census. He was elected attorney general of Louisiana in 2015 and reelected in 2019.
Mr. Landry is running on a pro-life, family, and law and order platform. He is one of 19 state attorneys general who signed a letter to the Biden administration in July saying they need access to information about residents who obtain abortions and minors who undergo gender-reassignment procedures in other states. He has been endorsed by President Trump and the Family Research Council and has received a 100 percent rating from the National Rifle Association.
“Crime was the No. 1 issue on the voters’ minds here in Louisiana,” Mr. Landry said in a May campaign ad. “I don’t need any more statistics other than that. That’s real people seeing real things and having real crime affect them.”
Mr. Wilson, 54, holds a doctorate in public policy from Southern University and served various roles in Democrat administrations until being named Louisiana’s secretary of transportation in 2016. He resigned that role in March to run for governor.
He is running on a platform of kitchen-table issues including the economy, education, and health care and has stressed his ability to work in a bipartisan manner to get things done.
Mr. Landry leads Mr. Wilson by 18 percentage points.
In Louisiana, all candidates, regardless of party, are listed on the same ballot in the primary election. Any candidate who wins a majority of the vote is elected. If no candidate wins a majority, a runoff election is held between the top two primary candidates.
Sixteen candidates will appear on the ballot for the primary on Oct. 14. A runoff election, if needed, will be held on Nov. 18.
The governorship has been won in the primary contest four times in the last 40 years, three times by a Republican and once by a Democrat.
Mississippi’s Republican Gov. Tate Reeves leads Democrat opponent Brandon Presley by double digits in recent polls.
Mr. Reeves, 49, is running on his record of achieving record-low unemployment in the state and has promised to continue fighting for tax cuts.
“In my first term, we passed the largest tax cut in state history, returning half a billion dollars to Mississippians,” Mr. Reeves told The Epoch Times in a previous report.
Mr. Presley, 46, is a pro-life Democrat and opposes gender transition surgery for minors. The former mayor of Nettleton, Mississippi, has criticized his opponent for his alleged connection to a welfare corruption scandal in the state. Mr. Reeves has not been charged with a crime and says he had no connection to the events in question.
Mr. Presley has emphasized his background as a product of a single-parent home and his ability to identify with the problems of ordinary people.
Mr. Reeves won the governor’s mansion by just 3 percent of the vote in 2019 and has been criticized for his handling of the drinking water crisis in the state capital of Jackson. His approval rating is at 48 percent.
He is still widely expected to retain his position in the reliably Republican state. The election in Mississippi is set for Nov. 7.
In 2010, each party held 25 governorships. Republicans began to gain the advantage in 2012, peaking in 2018 with 34. GOP governors now occupy 26 executive mansions.