United States gubernatorial elections, 2016
(including a special election in Oregon)
United States gubernatorial elections were held on November 8, 2016 in 12 states and two territories. The last regular gubernatorial elections for nine of the 12 states took place in 2012. The last gubernatorial elections for New Hampshire, Oregon, and Vermont took place in 2014, as Oregon held a special election due to the resignation of governor John Kitzhaber, while the governors of New Hampshire and Vermont both serve two-year terms. The 2016 gubernatorial elections took place concurrently with several other federal, state, and local elections, including the presidential election, Senate, and House elections.
All totaled, the Republican Party gained 2 states' governorships, increasing its total to 33, a record high last seen in 1922. The Democrats finished with 16 governorships - losing two state houses, with one independent governor in Alaska accounting for the 50th gubernatorial seat.
- 1 Election predictions
- 2 Primary dates
- 3 Race summary
- 4 Partisan control of states
- 5 Retiring and term-limited Democratic incumbents
- 6 Retiring Republican incumbents
- 7 Democratic incumbents running for re-election
- 8 Republican incumbents running for re-election
- 9 References
Several sites and individuals publish predictions of competitive seats. These predictions look at factors such as the strength of the incumbent (if the incumbent is running for re-election), the strength of the candidates, and the partisan leanings of the state (reflected in part by the state's Cook Partisan Voting Index rating). The predictions assign ratings to each seat, with the rating indicating the predicted advantage that a party has in winning that seat. Most election predictors use "tossup" to indicate that neither party has an advantage, "lean" to indicate that one party has a slight advantage, "likely" or "favored" to indicate that one party has a significant but not insurmountable advantage, and "safe" or "solid" to indicate that one party has a near-certain chance of victory. Some predictions also include a "tilt" rating that indicates that one party has an advantage that is not quite as strong as the "lean" rating would indicate.
|Delaware||D+8||(Jack Markell) (D)||69.3% D||Safe D||Safe D||Safe D||Safe D||Safe D||Safe D||John Carney|
|Indiana||R+5||(Mike Pence) (R)||49.4% R||Tossup||Tossup||Tilt R||Lean D||Tossup||Tossup||Eric Holcomb|
|Missouri||R+5||(Jay Nixon) (D)||54.6% D||Tossup||Tossup||Tossup||Lean R||Tossup||Lean D||Eric Greitens|
|Montana||R+7||Steve Bullock (D)||48.9% D||Lean D||Lean D||Lean D||Lean D||Lean D||Tossup||Steve Bullock|
|New Hampshire||D+1||(Maggie Hassan) (D)||52.6% D||Tossup||Tossup||Tossup||Lean D||Tossup||Tossup||Chris Sununu|
|North Carolina||R+3||Pat McCrory (R)||54.7% R||Tossup||Tossup||Tilt D||Lean D||Tossup||Tossup||Roy Cooper|
|North Dakota||R+10||(Jack Dalrymple) (R)||63.1% R||Safe R||Safe R||Safe R||Safe R||Safe R||Safe R||Doug Burgum|
|Oregon||D+5||Kate Brown (D)||49.5% D||Likely D||Likely D||Safe D||Safe D||Likely D||Safe D||Kate Brown|
|Utah||R+22||Gary Herbert (R)||68.3% R||Safe R||Safe R||Safe R||Safe R||Safe R||Safe R||Gary Herbert|
|Vermont||D+18||(Peter Shumlin) (D)||46.4% D||Tossup||Tossup||Tilt R||Lean R||Tossup||Tossup||Phil Scott|
|Washington||D+5||Jay Inslee (D)||51.5% D||Safe D||Likely D||Safe D||Safe D||Lean D||Likely D||Jay Inslee|
|West Virginia||R+13||(Earl Ray Tomblin) (D)||50.4% D||Tossup||Tossup||Tilt D||Lean D||Lean R||Tossup||Jim Justice|
This table shows the primary dates for regularly-scheduled elections. It also shows the type of primary. In an "open" primary, any registered voter can vote in any party's primary. In a "closed" primary, only voters registered with a specific party can vote in that party's primary. In a "top-two" primary, all candidates run against each other regardless of party affiliation, and the top two candidates advance to the second round of voting (in Louisiana, a candidate can win the election by winning a majority of the vote in the first round). All other primary types are classified as "hybrid."
|North Carolina||Mar. 15||Hybrid||Montana||Jun. 7||Open||Missouri||Aug. 2||Closed||Delaware||Sep. 13||Closed|
|Indiana||May 3||Open||North Dakota||June 14||Hybrid||Washington||Aug. 2||Top-two||New Hampshire||Sep. 13||Closed|
|West Virginia||May 10||Open||Utah||June 28||Open||Vermont||Aug. 9||Open|
|Delaware||D+8||Jack Markell||Democratic||2008||Incumbent term-limited.
New governor elected.
|John Carney (Democratic)
Colin Bonini (Republican)
Sean Goward (Libertarian)
Andrew Groff (Green)
|Indiana||R+5||Mike Pence||Republican||2012||Incumbent retired to run for Vice President of the United States.
New governor elected.
|Eric Holcomb (Republican)
John Gregg (Democratic)
Rex Bell (Libertarian)
|Missouri||R+5||Jay Nixon||Democratic||2008||Incumbent term-limited.
New governor elected.
|Eric Greitens (Republican)
Chris Koster (Democratic)
Cisse Spragins (Libertarian)
Don Fitz (Green)
Les Turilli (unaffiliated)
|Montana||R+7||Steve Bullock||Democratic||2012||Incumbent won re-election.||Steve Bullock (Democratic)
Greg Gianforte (Republican)
Ted Dunlap (Libertarian)
|New Hampshire||D+1||Maggie Hassan||Democratic||2012||Incumbent retired to run for the United States Senate.
New governor elected.
|Chris Sununu (Republican)
Colin Van Ostern (Democratic)
Max Ambramson (Libertarian)
|North Carolina||R+3||Pat McCrory||Republican||2012||Incumbent lost re-election.
New governor elected.
|Roy Cooper (Democratic)
Pat McCrory (Republican)
Lon Cecil (Libertarian)
|North Dakota||R+10||Jack Dalrymple||Republican||2012||Incumbent retired.
New governor elected.
|Doug Burgum (Republican)
Marvin Nelson (Democratic)
Marty Riske (Libertarian)
|Oregon||D+5||Kate Brown||Democratic||2015||Incumbent won election to rest of term.||Kate Brown (Democratic)
Bud Pierce (Republican)
|Utah||R+22||Gary Herbert||Republican||2010||Incumbent won re-election.||Gary Herbert (Republican)
Mike Weinholtz (Democratic)
Brian Kamerath (Libertarian)
|Vermont||D+18||Peter Shumlin||Democratic||2010||Incumbent retired.
New governor elected.
|Phil Scott (Republican)
Sue Minter (Democratic)
Bill "Spaceman" Lee (Liberty Union)
|Washington||D+5||Jay Inslee||Democratic||2012||Incumbent won re-election.||Jay Inslee (Democratic)
Bill Bryant (Republican)
|West Virginia||R+13||Earl Ray Tomblin||Democratic||2011||Incumbent term-limited.
New governor elected.
|Jim Justice (Democratic)
Bill Cole (Republican)
David Moran (Libertarian)
Charlotte Pritt (Green)
|State||Incumbent||Party||First elected||Incumbent Status||Candidates|
|American Samoa||Lolo Matalasi Moliga||Democratic||2012||Incumbent won re-election.||Lolo Matalasi Moliga (Democratic)
Faoa Aitofele Sunia (Independent)
Tuika Tuika (Independent)
|Puerto Rico||Alejandro García Padilla||PPD||2012||Incumbent retired.
New governor elected.
New Progressive gain.
|David Bernier (PPD)
Ricky Rosselló (PNP)
María de Lourdes Santiago (PIP)
Rafael Bernabe (PPT)
Alexandra Lúgaro (Independent)
Manuel Cidre (Independent)
Partisan control of states
All of the states holding gubernatorial elections in 2016 are also holding state legislative elections in 2016, although some legislative seats are not up for election in states that stagger legislative elections.
|Before election||After election|
Retiring and term-limited Democratic incumbents
Jack Markell (Delaware)
Two-term incumbent Governor Jack Markell is term-limited in 2016. Former Democratic Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden, the son of Vice President Joe Biden, announced his intention to run and was seen as the front-runner in the Democratic primary and general election, but he died of brain cancer at the age of 46 on May 30, 2015. Representative John Carney, a former Lieutenant Governor of Delaware who also ran for governor in 2008, won the Democratic nomination. State senator Colin Bonini won the Republican nomination.
Carney won the election, taking 58.3% of the vote compared to Bonini's 39.2%.
Jay Nixon (Missouri)
Two-term incumbent Governor Jay Nixon is term-limited in 2016. U.S. Senator and 2004 gubernatorial nominee Claire McCaskill and State Treasurer Clint Zweifel declined to run for governor. On August 3, 2016, Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster won the nomination with a dominating 79% of the primary vote.
Former Speaker of the Missouri House of Representatives Catherine Hanaway, businessman John Brunner, State Senator Bob Dixon, former Navy SEAL Eric Greitens, and Lieutenant Governor Peter Kinder ran for the Republican nomination. State Representative Bart Korman and U.S. Representative Blaine Luetkemeyer declined to run for governor. Missouri State Auditor Tom Schweich had been a candidate for governor before he committed suicide in February 2015. On August 3, 2016, Greitens won the nomination with 35% of the vote.
Greitens won the election, taking 51.3% of the vote compared to Koster's 45.4%.
Maggie Hassan (New Hampshire)
Two-term incumbent Governor Maggie Hassan is running for the U.S. Senate. She won a second term in 2014 with 53% of the vote against Republican businessman Walt Havenstein. Executive Councilor Colin Van Ostern defeated Deputy Secretary of State and Director of Securities Regulation Mark Connolly for the Democratic nomination.
Executive Councilor Chris Sununu, State Representative and entrepreneur Frank Edelblut, and Jon Lavoie ran for the Republican nomination. Sununu defeated his challengers for the Republican nomination.
Alejandro García Padilla (Puerto Rico)
Resident Commissioner of Puerto Rico Pedro Pierluisi, who is affiliated with the New Progressive Party (PNP). and activist and political commentator Ricky Rosselló sought the PNP nomination for governor, and Rosselló won the nomination.
Rosselló won the election.
Peter Shumlin (Vermont)
Three-term incumbent Governor Peter Shumlin declined to seek re-election. He was re-elected with 46.4% of the vote in 2014. As he did not receive a majority of the vote, the Vermont General Assembly was required to choose the winner. The Vermont Assembly chose Shumlin over Republican nominee Scott Milne by 110 votes to 69.
Sue Minter defeated former state senator Matt Dunne for the Democratic nomination for governor. House Speaker Shap Smith withdrew from the race. Former lieutenant governor Doug Racine declined to run for governor.
Lieutenant Governor Phil Scott won the Republican nomination. Former state senator and former Vermont Auditor of Accounts Randy Brock and 2014 Republican nominee Scott Milne declined to run for governor. Former Libertarian gubernatorial candidate Dan Feliciano was a potential candidate.
Scott won the election, taking 52.9% compared to Minter's 44.2%.
Earl Ray Tomblin (West Virginia)
Governor Earl Ray Tomblin is term-limited in 2016. Tomblin was first elected in a 2011 special election after Joe Manchin resigned after being elected to the United States Senate. Tomblin then won election to a full term in 2012.
Democratic candidates included former U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin, state Senator Jeff Kessler, and businessman Jim Justice. Former Senator Carte Goodwin, former Speaker of the West Virginia House of Delegates Rick Thompson, West Virginia State Treasurer John Perdue, State Senator Mike Green and State Delegates Doug Reynolds, Doug Skaff and West Virginia Secretary of State Natalie Tennant declined to seek the nomination. On May 10, 2016, Justice won the Democratic primary and became the nominee.
President of the Senate Bill Cole, college student and former candidate for Mayor of Pineville Andrew Utterback, and former Bramwell Police Chief and former Democratic candidate for House of Delegates Edwin Vanover ran for the Republican nomination. U.S. Representatives David McKinley and Evan Jenkins declined to run for governor. West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey had been considered a potential Republican candidate, but instead chose to run for re-election. Potential Republican candidates included State Delegate Erikka Storch and Olympic gymnast Mary Lou Retton. Cole won the Republican nomination.
Retiring Republican incumbents
Jack Dalrymple (North Dakota)
One-term incumbent Governor Jack Dalrymple declined to seek re-election. Dalrymple was elected to his first full term with 63.1% of the vote in 2012, after first taking the seat in 2010 after John Hoeven resigned to become a U.S. Senator. Dalrymple was previously Lieutenant Governor of North Dakota from 2000 to 2010.
Potential Democratic candidates included former Congressman Earl Pomeroy, state Senator George B. Sinner and state Senate Minority Leader Mac Schneider. Former Agriculture Commissioner Sarah Vogel formed an exploratory a campaign but announced on Jan. 28, 2016 that she will not run for governor. Senator Heidi Heitkamp declined to run for governor. State representative Marvin Nelson won his party's nomination.
Burgum won the election, taking 76.7% of the vote, while Nelson won 19.4%.
Mike Pence (Indiana)
One-term incumbent Governor Mike Pence announced his bid for re-election. Pence won in 2012 with 49.6% of the vote. Pence previously served as a U.S. Representative from 2001 to 2013 and was Chairman of the House Republican Conference from 2009 to 2011. Pence had expressed interest in running for President of the United States in the 2016 presidential election, but declined. However, Pence withdrew his bid for a second term on July 15, 2016, to run for Vice President as running mate to Donald Trump. Pence was replaced as the gubernatorial nominee by Lieutenant Governor Eric Holcomb.
The 2012 Democratic nominee, former State House Speaker John R. Gregg, won the Democratic nomination. State Representative Karen Tallian and Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz both withdrew their candidacies. State Representative Terri Austin, South Bend Mayor Peter Buttigieg, former Lieutenant Governor Kathy Davis, Kokomo Mayor Greg Goodnight, Lafayette Mayor Tony Roswarski, and House Minority Leader Scott Pelath declined to run for governor. Potential Democratic candidates include former United States Attorney for the Southern District of Indiana and former Secretary of State of Indiana Joe Hogsett, President and CEO of the Biocrossroads Initiative and nominee for the U.S. Senate in 2000 David Johnson, Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott, Jr., physician, former Commissioner for the Indiana State Department of Health and candidate for Indiana's 7th congressional district in 2008, Woody Myers, former State Senate Minority Leader and nominee for Lieutenant Governor in 2012 Vi Simpson, U.S. Representative Pete Visclosky and former Evansville Mayor Jonathan Weinzapfel. Former Governor and Senator Evan Bayh had considered running, but has since announced he is running for the U.S. Senate in 2016.
Holcomb won election with 51.4% of the vote, while Gregg took 45.4%.
Democratic incumbents running for re-election
Kate Brown (Oregon)
Governor John Kitzhaber, who won reelection in 2014 with 49.9% of the vote, announced his pending resignation on February 13, 2015, amid controversy surrounding his fiancee's consulting contracts and work within his administration. Kate Brown, Oregon's Secretary of State, was sworn in as governor on February 18, 2015 upon Kitzhaber's resignation. In accordance with the Constitution of Oregon, a special election will be held in 2016 for the remainder of the term to which Kitzhaber was elected in 2014. Brown is running for election to complete the full term. Bud Pierce, a Salem Oncologist, won the Republican nomination.
Steve Bullock (Montana)
Former Secretary of State Brad Johnson and businessman Mark Perea ran for the Republican nomination, but were defeated by businessman Greg Gianforte. Montana Attorney General Tim Fox had been speculated as a potential candidate, but instead chose to run for re-election.
Bullock won re-election, taking 50.2% of the vote. Gianforte won 46.4% of the vote.
Jay Inslee (Washington)
One-term incumbent Governor Jay Inslee ran for re-election. Inslee was elected in 2012 with 51.5% of the vote against Republican Attorney General Rob McKenna. Inslee previously served as a U.S. Representative from 1993 to 1995 and from 1999 to 2012. Seattle Port Commissioner Bill Bryant advanced to the November general election. Potential Republican candidates include U.S. Representatives Jaime Herrera Beutler and Cathy McMorris Rodgers, State Senator Michael Baumgartner, and former State Representative Cathy Dahlquist.
Inslee won re-election, taking 54.5% of the vote. Bryant won 45.5%.
Lolo Letalu Matalasi Moliga (American Samoa)
One-term incumbent Governor Lolo Letalu Matalasi Moliga ran for re-election. Moliga was elected in 2012 with 52.9% of the vote in the second round, after taking 33.5% of the vote in the first round. American Samoa requires a second round of voting if no candidate takes a majority of the vote in the first round.
Moliga won re-election.
Republican incumbents running for re-election
Pat McCrory (North Carolina)
North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper defeated former State Representative Kenneth Spaulding to win the Democratic nomination for governor. James Protzman, a former Chapel Hill town council member, had declared his candidacy, but later withdrew from the race. United States Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx declined to run for governor.
Gary Herbert (Utah)
Incumbent Governor Gary Herbert ran for re-election. He was the Lieutenant Governor of Utah from 2005 to 2009 and became Governor after Jon Huntsman, Jr. resigned to become United States Ambassador to China. He won the seat in a 2010 special election and was elected to his first full term with 68.4% of the vote in 2012. Herbert defeated businessman Jonathan Johnson to win the nomination.
Herbert won re-election taking 66.6% of the vote compared to Weinholtz's 28.9%.
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