While much of the media are focused on this year's presidential election, races with equal or even greater power to impact folks' everyday lives will be decided at the state level, with 11 governors' contests headlining the year.
“One heck of a race, quite possibly the best in the nation,” is what University of Virginia political expert Larry Sabato calls the 2008 contest in Washington state. It pits Democratic Gov. Christine Gregoire against Republican challenger Dino Rossi in a rematch of their 2004 political slugfest. Gregoire won that contest by just 133 votes after three recounts and a lawsuit.
The race in Missouri, a key presidential swing state, shapes up as a knockdown- dragout fight between Republican Gov. Matt Blunt and Jay Nixon, the state's Democratic attorney general. The two have sparred on several fronts, including Blunt's decision to auction off a sizable part of the state's student loan portfolio, a move Nixon's office went to court to block.
Republicans hope to chip away at Democrats' 28-to-22 advantage in gubernatorial control by picking up two open seats. Democrats Ruth Ann Minner of Delaware and Mike Easley of North Carolina cannot run again because of term limits. But both governors' mansions have been occupied by Democrats since the early 1990s.
Five Republican and four Democratic governors are seeking re-election, and the power of incumbency gives them the edge. As the 2008 campaign season began, some didn't even have challengers yet.
Read the full report States Share National Spotlight in 2008 on Stateline.org's Web site.