Only one incumbent Democratic governor was unseated in the midterm elections


Virus Outbreak Nevada Governor
FILE – In this Friday, Oct. 2, 2020 file photo Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak updates the state’s COVID-19 response during a news conference at the Sawyer Building in Las Vegas. Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak said that he had tested positive for COVID-19 on Friday, Nov. 13, 2020 as the virus surges to record levels in Nevada and throughout the United States.(K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal via AP, Pool, File) (K.M. Cannon/AP)

Only one incumbent Democratic governor was unseated in the midterm elections

On Friday night, the first governor to lose his seat in 2022 conceded his race.

That would be Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak. The fact that he is the only sitting Democratic governor to lose — and will remain so even if Kari Lake wins in Arizona — is a reflection of Republicans’ disappointing year. The victor is Republican Joe Lombardo, Clark County’s sheriff.

Republicans had hoped to knock out multiple Democratic incumbent governors. Their targets included Michigan’s Gretchen Whitmer, Wisconsin’s Tony Evers, Kansas’s Laura Kelly, and even (near the end, at least) New York’s Kathy Hochul. In three of those cases (all except Michigan), they came very close and failed. Some of these races were lost because Republicans nominated weak candidates.

This will have consequences. It means that the next time Democrats have a competitive presidential primary, perhaps as soon as 2024, they will have a bench filled with still-relevant potential candidates who have had time to develop serious political skills. Contrast that to 2016, when Republicans had taken over so many governorships that there weren’t many viable challengers to Hillary Clinton for the nomination.

This could mean a crowded Democratic primary, either filled with challengers to Joe Biden in 2024 or running in an open primary in 2028. In addition to the names listed above, expect to see Colorado’s Democratic Gov. Jared Polis considering a run. Then throw in perhaps Vice President Kamala Harris and whatever senators you think might have such ambitions.

I don’t think this election necessarily leaves Democrats in a great spot for the next presidential election — after all, Biden’s chances of renomination have just been boosted considerably by the results of 2022, and that’s not a good thing if you’re a Democrat. But they should still have more talent to throw at the race than they have in some time.

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