In state-level elections, the race for governor is the marquee contest on the ballot, setting the tone for the next two to four years in state government. And several upcoming governor’s races are expected to garner more attention — and be more contentious — than usual due to governors’ COVID-related decisions and rumored 2024 presidential aspirations. We’ve looked at the initial fundraising numbers in the 2022 gubernatorial races in the swing states. Even before the deadline for challengers to jump in, the incumbents are actively fundraising, with Abbott and DeSantis leading the pack.
At Transparency USA, our coverage focuses on the “swing states,” or the states targeted by both Republicans and Democrats because they could potentially be won by either party. The elections in these states are typically highly competitive and garner outsized attention because they are seen as a bellwether for national political momentum.
Of the remaining nine states included in Transparency USA’s database, six sitting governors are seeking reelection in 2022. Of these six states — Florida, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Texas, and Wisconsin — three of the incumbents have drawn at least one primary challenger so far. Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida has one declared challenger from his party, while Ohio’s Gov. Mike DeWine and Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas will face multiple primary challengers.
The primary elections in these states will occur next spring or summer and the general election won’t be held until November 2022, but the early money in these races is still revelatory. Transparency USA pulled the governors’ available campaign finance data for the 2022 election cycle. Here are the numbers for each incumbent, side by side:
|State||Governor||Party||Reported Donations (1/1/2021-6/30/2021)||Reported Expenditures (1/1/2021-6/30/2021)||Primary Challengers|
Only two of the governors have reported more than $20 million in campaign funds raised so far for the 2022 election cycle. DeSantis is the leader of the fundraising pack right now, with nearly $36.2 million raised, while Abbott has brought in over $20.8 million. All of the other governors have raised under $10 million for their campaigns. Whitmer claimed third with $8.6 million raised so far.
Texas and Florida are more populous than the other states on this list, but that does not account for all of their fundraising advantages. For starters, both DeSantis and Abbott are rumored to have presidential aspirations. In addition, the massive contributions that both governors have reported in 2021 could be attributed to their upcoming election battles, state economy, and support for their headline-grabbing COVID management decisions as well. Whatever the contributing factors beyond reelection, the money in the campaign accounts of the Texas and Florida governors — already more than double or triple other state leaders — highlights just how much the scale of a gubernatorial race can vary between states.
There are still several months to go before the names on the primary ballots will be settled in any of these states. As more candidates declare their intent to challenge the sitting governors and the lists edge closer to their final forms, the incumbents will continue to fundraise, giving them quite the head start in their preparations for 2022.
Last election cycle, 97 percent of state primary elections were won by incumbents. Read more about the advantages of incumbency here. Join us on Twitter or Facebook to see the latest developments from these races as the latest campaign finance numbers are revealed.