US midterm elections: Governor races to watch

Here are results from the most consequential gubernatorial races, as forecast by data provider Edison Research:

 A supporter speaks on phone as she attends Republican Governor Greg Abbott's 2022 US midterm elections night party in McAllen, Texas, US, November 8, 2022. (photo credit: CALLAGHAN O'HARE/REUTERS)
A supporter speaks on phone as she attends Republican Governor Greg Abbott's 2022 US midterm elections night party in McAllen, Texas, US, November 8, 2022.
(photo credit: CALLAGHAN O'HARE/REUTERS)

36 of the 50 states are electing governors in Tuesday's US midterm elections. Though the races typically get less attention than the battle for control of Congress, they carry high stakes for issues such as abortion access, transgender rights, guns and future elections in those states.

Here are results from the most consequential gubernatorial races, as forecast by data provider Edison Research:

New Mexico

Democratic incumbent Michelle Lujan Grisham won re-election, surviving a challenge from Republican Mark Ronchetti, a former television weatherman, in New Mexico's gubernatorial contest.

Lujan Grisham's campaign emphasized abortion rights as she directed $10 million in state money to build an abortion clinic near the Texas border, while Ronchetti supported banning abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy.

 US President Joe Biden and Governor of New Mexico Michelle Lujan Grisham react at a Democratic Party of New Mexico campaign rally for Lujan Grisham, a Democratic candidate for reelection, and other New Mexico Democrats, at the Gallegos Community Center in Albuquerque, New Mexico, US, November 3 (credit: KEVIN LAMARQUE/REUTERS) US President Joe Biden and Governor of New Mexico Michelle Lujan Grisham react at a Democratic Party of New Mexico campaign rally for Lujan Grisham, a Democratic candidate for reelection, and other New Mexico Democrats, at the Gallegos Community Center in Albuquerque, New Mexico, US, November 3 (credit: KEVIN LAMARQUE/REUTERS)

Maine

Democratic Maine Governor Janet Mills won a second term by defeating Republican Paul LePage, who served as governor of the state from 2011 to 2019. Mills ran on a platform that emphasized healthcare, especially her support for abortion rights in the wake of the June US Supreme Court decision that ended the recognition of a constitutional right to the procedure.

LePage faced criticism during his time in office for making racist and violent comments that led some state lawmakers to question his fitness to serve.

New York

Democratic New York Governor Kathy Hochul secured her seat, winning a race that tightened in recent weeks against Republican challenger Lee Zeldin, a US congressman from Long Island.

Hochul, the state's former lieutenant governor who took office last year after Governor Andrew Cuomo resigned over sexual harassment accusations, focused on defending the gun laws she had passed and promoting heavier police presence in the New York City subway.

Hochul's campaign also attacked Zeldin's ties to Republican former US President Donald Trump and warned that Zeldin would roll back abortion rights in New York if elected.

Georgia

Republican Governor Brian Kemp fended off Democratic nominee Stacey Abrams in a rematch of Georgia's close 2018 gubernatorial election, winning by a wider margin with the benefit of incumbency.

Abrams was seeking to become the first Black woman to serve as a governor in the United States. Her voter registration efforts were credited with helping President Joe Biden win Georgia in 2020 and two Democrats capture the state's US Senate seats in 2021.

Polls consistently showed Kemp ahead this year, even after he irked Trump and his supporters by refusing the former president's entreaties to falsely declare Trump the winner in the state in 2020.

Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania Democratic Attorney General Josh Shapiro won the state's gubernatorial election against Republican state Senator Doug Mastriano, who had echoed Trump's false claims of voter fraud and was present at the US Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021 - the day of a deadly riot - to protest the outcome of the 2020 presidential election.

Shapiro will choose the battleground state's top elections official, with the 2024 presidential election looming. He also will have the power to block or advance efforts by the Republican-led state legislature to severely restrict abortions.

Texas

Republican Texas Governor Greg Abbott easily won a third term, defeating his Democratic challenger, former US congressman Beto O'Rourke.

Abbott, who was endorsed by Trump, backed increasingly conservative policies in his second term, including opposing COVID-19 vaccine and mask mandates. He also signed the most restrictive abortion ban of any US state and has bused thousands of migrants to Democratic-controlled parts of the United States since April.

Florida

Republican Governor Ron DeSantis won a second term in Florida by defeating Democratic challenger Charlie Crist in what was widely seen as a precursor to a DeSantis 2024 presidential run.

DeSantis has been at the forefront of a number of the country's partisan fights, bucking COVID-19 restrictions while backing a law limiting discussion of LGBTQ issues in schools.

Crist is a former Republican governor who switched parties and was elected to the US House of Representatives as a Democrat. He tried to appeal to moderate Republicans in a onetime political swing state that has tilted further to the right in recent years.

Arizona

Widely seen as one of the closest gubernatorial races in the country, the contest for Arizona's open governorship pits Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, a Democrat, against former news anchor Kari Lake, a Republican. Several recent polls show Lake leading Hobbs by a small margin.

Hobbs rose to national prominence in 2020 when she defended Arizona's election results against former President Donald Trump's false claims of voting fraud. Lake, who received Trump's endorsement, has embraced those claims and vowed to ban mail-in voting if she wins.

Kansas

Democratic Governor Laura Kelly is being challenged by Republican Derek Schmidt for the only governorship Democrats are defending in a state won by Trump in 2020. She is seen as one of the most vulnerable Democratic governors this year.

Kelly has run on funding education and transportation infrastructure. Schmidt, the state's attorney general who was endorsed by Trump, has tried to link Kelly to Biden on issues such as inflation and transgender rights. Kelly could be helped by independent candidate Dennis Pyle, who is expected to take some of the conservative vote in the toss-up race.

Michigan

Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer has made protecting abortion access in Michigan a central theme of her re-election campaign. Her Republican opponent, Trump-backed conservative commentator Tudor Dixon, supports a near-total ban on abortion, including for child victims of rape and incest.

A win by Dixon would mean total control of the state government by Republicans, who already have the majority of both legislative chambers. Whitmer's lead over Dixon has diminished from double digits to a much slimmer margin, with some recent polls showing her only 1 or 2 percentage points ahead.

Nevada

Incumbent Steve Sisolak, a Democrat, has emphasized the protection of legal abortion in his campaign for a second term, in addition to issues such as education, expanding child care and affordable housing.

Polls show him in a close race with Republican Joe Lombardo, the Clark County sheriff and a former US Army soldier who has run on supporting law enforcement and cutting public spending.

Although Trump endorsed him, Lombardo has sought to distance himself from the former president, accepting the 2020 elections results as legitimate. When asked in a debate whether Trump was a great president, Lombardo responded, "I wouldn't use that adjective."

Oregon

A close three-way race could see Oregon's governorship go to a Republican for the first time since 1982. Democrat Tina Kotek is squaring off against Republican Christine Drazan and a strong independent candidate, Betsy Johnson.

Kotek has run hard on gun violence prevention, while Johnson has emphasized supporting police and gun rights. Drazan has campaigned on public safety and order in a state that experienced sometimes-violent protests over racial equality and police brutality in 2020 and 2021, saying either of her opponents would represent a third term for Democratic Governor Kate Brown, who could not run again because of term limits.

Wisconsin

Polls for months have shown a neck-and-neck governor's race in Wisconsin. Governor Tony Evers, a Democrat, is defending his seat against Republican construction magnate Tim Michels. Michels has falsely claimed that Trump won the 2020 election and has promised, if elected, to enforce a 19th-century abortion ban that Evers is challenging in court.

Michels' personal wealth and endorsement from Trump helped him prevail over more establishment Republican candidates in the state's August primary.