Gov races deepen White House gloom

Justin Sink,  The Hill

A bad night for the White House on Tuesday got worse as a number of Democratic gubernatorial candidates for whom President Obama campaigned in the final weeks of the midterm elections fell to their Republican challengers.

The president, effectively sidelined in House and Senate races by candidates worried he’d prove a liability, instead spent his time on the trail trying to rally base voters in Democratic strongholds to turn out for governor’s races.

“The stakes are high in these governor’s races,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest said last week, saying the outcomes had “significant consequences for the successful implementation of policies that the president has worked very hard to pass.”

But the president did not appear successful in those campaigns — even in states he handily won in his two presidential campaigns.

The most stinging loss might have been in Obama’s home state of Illinois, where Democratic incumbent Pat Quinn lost to Republican challenger Bruce Rauner.

The president traveled back to Illinois and voted early in the election there, and visited Quinn’s campaign headquarters to bolster volunteers. The first lady also appeared at a campaign rally and in a commercial for Quinn, and Obama phoned in to Chicago talk radio to encourage voters on Monday.

In neighboring Wisconsin, a state he twice won in presidential elections, Obama was also dealt a loss. Appearances by the president and first lady were not enough to prevent Gov. Scott Walker, a 2016 Republican presidential hopeful many Democrats hoped to knock off, from winning reelection over Democrat Mary Burke.

In Michigan, the president’s work for Democrat Mark Schauer again fell short. The president headlined a rally for the Democrat over the weekend, but Schauer failed to oust Republican Rick Snyder.

Meanwhile, three other Democrats to whom Obama devoted significant time were trailing in early returns. Incumbent Connecticut Gov. Dan Malloy, a major supporter of the president’s gun control efforts, was trailing Republican Tom Foley. Anthony Brown, a law school classmate of  Obama’s, was trailing Republican Larry Hogan in Maryland. And Rep. Mike Michaud was trailing Republican Paul LePage in Maine.

Obama won all three states in both 2008 and 2012.

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