Governors In Trouble In 2010 ... In Their Own Primary

We've often discussed in this blog what's going on with the Republicans in next year's gubernatorial primary in Texas, as Gov. Rick Perry tries to fend off a challenge from Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison. (See most recent post here.)

But Perry is hardly the only governor involved in a tough primary. Pat Quinn, the Illinois Democrat who became governor after Rod Blagojevich (D) was impeached, convicted and removed from office for corruption, is facing a serious challenge in the Feb. 2 primary — the first of the 2010 schedule — from state Comptroller Dan Hynes. Hynes, who finished second to Barack Obama in the 2004 Democratic Senate primary, this week received the endorsement from the 103,000-member Illinois Federation of Teachers.

Quinn, of course, has his own long history of losing runs for higher office, including a drubbing at the hands of Dick Durbin in the '96 Senate primary and defeats for lt. gov. (1998 primary), secretary of state (1994) and state treasurer (1986 primary).

Hynes is a serious threat to Quinn's prospects of staying on as governor. In addition, there are four other incumbents who also have significant primary fights on their hands:

AlaskaSean Parnell (R)
Parnell became governor last July following Sarah Palin's unexpected resignation. Ballot Box, the blog over at Governing magazine, reports that Parnell will "have to fight for his own party's nomination." He's being challenged in the Aug. 24 primary by former state House Speaker John Harris, among others.

ArizonaJan Brewer (R)
Like Parnell, Brewer is an accidental governor; she took over when Janet Napolitano (D) left to join the Obama Cabinet. The Phoenix New Times blog lists several possible/likely primary challengers, including businessman Robert Graham, former state GOP chair John Munger, state Treasurer Dean Martin and Paradise Valley Mayor Vernon Parker.

NevadaJim Gibbons (R)
Few people think Gibbons is going to seek re-election, and fewer think he could win the GOP primary. He is going through a very public and very ugly divorce, where his wife of 23 years is accusing him of extramarital affairs. Brian Sandoval, a former state attorney general, resigned as a U.S. District Judge in September to challenge Gibbons in the June 8 primary, calling for a "new brand of leadership." Polls show him well ahead of Gibbons for the Republican nomination and running strongly against any prospective Democratic candidate. The latest job approval ratings for Gibbons, arguably the least popular Republican governor in the country, is 19 percent. Still, not bad for someone who was at 7 percent in June. Also running in the primary: former North Las Vegas Mayor Mike Montandon.

New YorkDavid Paterson (D)
Paterson became governor in March of 2008 when Eliot Spitzer (D) resigned following his involvement in a prostitute scandal. But Paterson has had trouble gaining footing in the state, and his cause suffered a major blow when it was reported that President Obama made it clear he thought the governor should step aside. Polls show that state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, who made an unsuccessful bid for the gubernatorial nomination in 2002 and who is the son of ex-Gov. Mario Cuomo, would easily defeat Paterson in the primary and go on to win in the general election. For the record, Paterson insists he's running, but not everyone is convinced.

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