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Governors' races intensify while underscoring midterm stakes: The Note

It's in the battlegrounds that things could get interesting -- and dicey.

November 7, 2022, 6:00 AM

The TAKE with Rick Klein

The short-term story of the 2022 midterms is control of Congress.

But it's not hard to imagine the cycle being remembered for statewide races with consequences that could be felt sooner rather than later, amid fallout from Tuesday and well in advance of 2024.

The parade of prominent Democrats rushing to save Gov. Kathy Hochul, D-N.Y., speaks to one level of the stakes. Democrats are worried about revealing resonant vulnerabilities in blue states including New York and Oregon, in the same cycle that Republicans could lose ground in red Kansas and Oklahoma.

Governors, of course, are now on the front lines of battles over abortion rights and election administration. It's in the battlegrounds that things could get interesting -- and dicey, with questions being raised about whether or not candidates would respect election results, and what they might do as governors.

Election-denying Republican candidates are , while candidates in states including Nevada and Wisconsin have cast doubt on the 2020 results.

Meanwhile, future stars of their respective parties could come into view with the likes of Democrats Josh Shapiro in Pennsylvania, Wes Moore in Maryland and Maura Healey in Massachusetts, along with Republican Kari Lake in Arizona.

Governors running for reelection in states including California, Colorado, Illinois, Michigan, Texas and, perhaps most prominently, Florida could have strong showings that put them in the mix for future national runs.

On that last front, this past weekend brought some sniping between former President Donald Trump and his home-state governor, Ron DeSantis. The tweets from other prominent Republicans in support of DeSantis reflect the eagerness in the party to turn to a governor, even perhaps over a former president.

PHOTO: Two candidates in the New York gubernatorial race  Lee Zeldin and Kathy Hochul are pictured in composite file images.
Two candidates in the New York gubernatorial race Lee Zeldin and Kathy Hochul are pictured in composite file images.
Getty Images, FILE

The RUNDOWN with

While national Republican figures insist that GOP candidates will accept the results of Tuesday's elections, some Republican candidates on the ballot in key races are singing a different tune.

Both Ronna McDaniel, chair of the Republican National Committee, and Florida Sen. Rick Scott echoed similar sentiments on Sunday, saying they would accept the outcomes of the elections. Scott included a caveat of sorts, arguably leaving the door open to those within their party who could cast doubt on vote counts.

"We're also going to do everything we can to make sure that [elections are] free and fair," Scott told NBC.

The messaging could be considered a nod to the significant portion of the party that doesn't believe the outcome of the 2020 election. According to the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll, just 26% of Republicans say they are confident President Joe Biden legitimately won the election.

Some candidates on the ballot, however, have been blatant in casting doubt over the election, in turn, appealing to voters who deny the outcome of the 2020 elections.

"I can't predict what the Democrats might have planned," incumbent Republican Sen. Ron Johnson said Thursday when asked if he'll commit to accepting the outcome of his election.

Johnson's baseless claim could foreshadow Republican election challenges to come after votes are tallied on Tuesday and, in some cases, in the days afterward.

PHOTO: Sen. Rick Scott arrives to speak at a campaign rally in Miami, Nov. 6, 2022.
Sen. Rick Scott arrives to speak at a campaign rally in Miami, Nov. 6, 2022.
Rebecca Blackwell/AP

The TIP with

Democrats' risky calculation of boosting election-denying candidates in some primary races appears to be taking shape in the last days before the election.

During an interview with CNN on Sunday, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, who was in New Hampshire hitting the campaign trail for incumbent Sen. Maggie Hassan, was asked whether Democrats deserve some blame for elevating these types of candidates.

"I'm not going back over past strategy right now, two days before the election. I am one that -- I'm not a big fan of spending money on other candidates and messing around. I will admit that, and I have said that. But what I think here is, you have got a clear choice," Klobuchar said.

But some investments to raise the profiles of several Republican candidates in primaries across Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, New Hampshire and Pennsylvania could pay off through Democratic victories, according to .

The trend is most visible among gubernatorial contests in Pennsylvania, Illinois and Maryland, where Republican challengers Doug Mastriano, Darren Bailey and Dan Cox, respectively, are trailing their Democratic competitors. The gubernatorial forecasts have all three Republicans severely limited in the kinds of paths they could pursue to come out on top: Mastriano has 3 in 100 opportunities to beat Josh Shapiro, while Bailey and Cox are each faced with one single path out of 100 to come out on top.

In a relatively tighter contest for Michigan's 3rd Congressional District, Democrat Hillary Scholten is slightly favored to win, according to FiveThirtyEight's latest modeling. Scholten is currently forecasted to win 58 out of 100 scenarios, whereas her Trump-endorsed competitor, John Gibbs, has 42 out of 100 likely paths. Gibbs made waves during the primary season after he beat incumbent Rep. Peter Meijer, who was one of 10 Republicans who voted in favor of impeaching Trump over Jan. 6.

PHOTO: Sen. Amy Klobuchar speaks to pro-choice demonstrators outside of the U.S. Supreme Court Building on May 3, 2022, in Washington, D.C.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar speaks to pro-choice demonstrators outside of the U.S. Supreme Court Building on May 3, 2022, in Washington, D.C.
Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images
Power Trip
Hulu

Power Trip

"Power Trip: Those Seeking Power and Those Who Chase Them" follows 7 young reporters as they chase down candidates in the lead up to the midterms with George Stephanopoulos guiding them along the way.

THE PLAYLIST

ABC News' "Start Here" podcast. "Start Here" begins Monday morning with FiveThirtyEight's Galen Druke on what to expect from Tuesday's elections. Then, ABC's John Santucci breaks down what we know about former President Donald Trump's likely 2024 presidential run. And, ABC's Anne Flaherty reports on more women turning to unregulated abortion medications.

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW TODAY

  • President Biden participates in a virtual reception for the Democratic National Committee at 4 p.m. ET.
  • The president and first lady Jill Biden attend a rally at Bowie State University for Maryland gubernatorial candidate Wes Moore at 7 p.m. ET.
  • White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre holds a briefing at 1:45 p.m. ET.

Download the and select "The Note" as an item of interest to receive the day's sharpest political analysis.

The Note is a daily ABC News feature that highlights the day's top stories in politics. Please check back tomorrow for the latest.

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