Donald Lambro

Granholm blames President Bush for Michigan's woes, but her GOP opponent, millionaire corporate executive Dick DeVos, says the economy is strong elsewhere in the country, even in neighboring states, and that he has the skills to get the state growing again.

A June 13 EPIC-MRA poll showed DeVos leading Granholm by 48 to 40 percent.

Right next door in Wisconsin, Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle, who barely won a three-way race in 2002, is also on his party's endangered list. His economy is doing well, but his administration has been tarred by scandal as a result of big campaign contributors reaping major state contracts and voter anger over higher property taxes.

A state procurement official was convicted in the scandal last month, though Doyle has not been accused of wrongdoing. Still, the stories have hurt him politically. A June 15 poll gave him a 49 percent job disapproval score and another poll showed him in a virtual dead heat with his GOP rival, Congressman Mark Green.

Perhaps no other race is giving the Democrats more headaches than the one in Iowa, where retiring Democratic Gov. Tom Vilsack has served two terms, but which Democratic campaign officials now concede will be very difficult for them to hold. "Iowa is not an automatic Democratic state. It was always going to be a tough one for us," said Penny Lee, spokesman for the Democratic Governors Association.

Election analysts now see the state as one of the GOP's best chances to gain a seat in November. Democratic Secretary of State Chet Culver, who narrowly won a bitter party primary fight, faces Republican Rep. Jim Nussle, chairman of the House Budget Committee, who has a united party behind him and is running a near-perfect campaign.

Democratic Gov. Theodore R. Kulongoski is also running into trouble in Oregon. He survived a divisive three-way primary, though still faces the prospect of a dangerous multiparty contest in November that threatens to split up the Democratic vote and give his Republican opponent, Portland attorney Ron Saxton, a chance to score an upset. Polls show the race virtually neck and neck.

So take those projections of a Democratic sweep this fall with a large grain of salt. Republicans, who remain the dominant force in the country's governorships, could still add some big victories to their list.


Donald Lambro

Donald Lambro is chief political correspondent for The Washington Times.