Historic Election Year in Governors' Races

This year's sweepstakes for 36 governors' seats is shaping up as one for the history books. Democrats appear poised to reverse 12 years of growing Republican gubernatorial power. Massachusetts could place in office the second elected black governor in U.S. history. And Alaska, Illinois or Nevada could put a woman at the helm for the first time.

This also is the year the issue of illegal immigration burst into governors' campaigns, not just in the border states of Arizona, California and Texas, but also in states such as Arkansas, Colorado, Nevada, Oklahoma and Tennessee.

While the war in Iraq, President Bush's sagging popularity and Republican scandals dominate races for the U.S. Congress, the homespun issues of taxes and education are the crux of a majority of contests for governor.

Still, a tinge of Washington, D.C., is following gubernatorial candidates to the polls in a quarter of the races. Not counting incumbent governors, eight current and two former U.S. congressmen are making bids to step into the governor's mansion at a time of record-low approval of the U.S. House and Senate.

A state-by-state synopsis of the 36 gubernatorial elections, prepared with help from reporters in state capitols, yields these and other emerging trends in the biggest year for governors' races of the four-year election cycle.

Read the full report with interactive election guides at the Stateline.org Web site. 

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