Republican governors will have reason to celebrate when they meet in Washington this week.
Fundraising reports for two of the largest players in gubernatorial politics show Republicans have a large cash advantage over Democrats heading into a two-year period when over two-thirds of the governors’ seats will be up for election.
The Republican Governors Association raised more than $60.7 million compared with the Democratic Governors Association’s $39 million in 2016, according to the groups. In the last decade, the RGA has consistently outraised its Democratic counterpart, although the DGA was able to narrow the gap last year compared with previous years.
The momentum appears to be continuing. After President Donald Trump’s upset win last November, the RGA more than doubled DGA’s fundraising effort, $5.1 million to $2.1 million in the final weeks of 2016, according to a Center for Public Integrity analysis of IRS fundraising records.
Both of the groups are now gearing up for this year’s races in New Jersey and Virginia, where each seat will be open because New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Gov. Terry McAuliffe of Virginia are term-limited.
In 2018, 36 governor positions will be up for election, including 20 anticipated to have no incumbent. Republicans hold 26 of those positions, Democrats hold nine and Alaska Gov. Bill Walker is an independent.
“The RGA is formidable, and I do think that the money they have been able to pump into these governorships over the years explains why they have so many Republican governors,” said Kyle Kondik, political analyst at the University of Virginia's Center for Politics. “In close races, the extra bit of money makes all the difference.”