Natural disaster, mass protests, election administration, and the omnipresent coronavirus pandemic have cemented governors as an unmissable part of the American landscape. Last year, state chiefs stepped into the void left by the federal government. This year, the opportunity to exercise leadership and political power will likely come again.
With Congress closely divided for the unforeseeable future, the push for major policy movement and experimentation could shift to the states — so it benefits the political parties to hold power in as many states as possible.
There are currently 27 Republican governors compared to 23 Democratic governors. And while there are no perks to holding a “majority” of gubernatorial seats, the more governorships a party holds, the more influence it has on policy and the lives of Americans.
Over the next two years, 38 states — including New Jersey and Virginia this year — will elect a governor. Typically, this large class of governors offers members of Congress and other ambitious politicians an opportunity to climb the political ladder. But with so few term-limited governors (just nine of 38), those chances are more scarce, at the outset.
The New Jersey and Virginia races will provide the first substantive look at the post-Trump political landscape (there will be House special elections before then, but nothing on the scale of a statewide race).
Each of those states has its own unique politics, and Democrats are favored in both races.…