GOP Looks to Governor Prospects for Senate Help

Republicans think well-positioned gubernatorial candidates might aid their states' Senate candidates.

National Journal

Republicans have long been bullish about their chances of taking back the Senate this year but are perhaps more excited right now about their prospects in gubernatorial races.

Phil Cox, executive director of the Republican Governors Association, says Senate candidates across the map are benefiting from strong gubernatorial candidates in their states, and four may even get a boost from candidates who are running ahead of them.

"Of the 36 governors' races, we have 25 U.S. Senate races that overlap," Cox said Wednesday. "Unlike in 2012, when candidates were distancing themselves, the candidates are reinforcing each other."

Cox gushed about the RGA's fundraising haul in the second quarter and the $70 million it has ready to deploy. He said the group plans to spend $100 million in the last 100 days before the election.

"This cycle, there are four states where governors are running ahead of Senate candidates and will help them — Iowa, Michigan, Georgia, and Arkansas," Cox said.

Cox's logic is based on polling that shows Republicans Terry Branstad, Rick Snyder, Nathan Deal, and Asa Hutchinson faring better with voters than Joni Ernst, Terri Lynn Land, Michelle Nunn's two potential challengers in Georgia, and Tom Cotton.

Ernst has long owed some credit for her position to the help of Branstad, who has invested in making her the state's first woman elected to national office. And Land, who has been dragging in the polls, could potentially benefit from Snyder, who looks comparatively more assured in his race for reelection against Democrat Mark Schauer.

Deal and Hutchinson may poll ahead of the respective Senate candidates, but the high-profile races in the battle for control of the upper chamber will more likely benefit the governors.

Nonetheless, it's a unique situation that offers both sides a chance to benefit from another strong candidate. These races include some of Republicans' top recruits, who still need all the help they can get.