WASHINGTON ― Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) was elected Monday to become chair of the Democratic Governors Association, charged with leading their efforts to take back dozens of top state posts across the country, a crucial step in rebuilding their party in 2018 and beyond.
Unlike the Senate, where they will be almost entirely on defense in next year’s congressional midterms, Democrats have an opportunity to pick up seats in 26 gubernatorial elections, including in 13 states whose Republican governors are currently term-limited.
The stakes for Democrats are high. Republicans control 32 state legislatures across the country, and winning more governorships would give Democratic officials a crucial stake in the decennial redistricting battles that will take place after the 2020 census. The process could allow party officials to draw more evenly shaped congressional districts in order to compete for additional House seats.
For now, though, the prospect of adding to the ranks of Democratic governors would bolster the growing “resistance” movement focused on fighting President Donald Trump and his policy agenda. West Coast governors like Inslee have worked to block early iterations of Trump’s travel ban, for example, which was aimed at refugees and immigrants from Muslim countries.
Inslee, who is serving his second term as Washington’s governor and his first as the chair of the DGA, predicted Republicans would come to regret their association with an exceedingly unpopular president. He said he was positive that, short of the U.S. ending up in a “shooting war” with a foreign power in the next 11 months, Democrats would exceed expectations next year.
“They cannot hide from him,” Inslee said of Trump in an interview on Monday. “He is an anchor they will tow around and cannot free themselves from.”
Inslee said that Democrats are “highly confident” about winning governorships in New Mexico, Nevada and Maine, whose Republican governors are term-limited, and that they have a good chance of winning in places they usually don’t compete well in: red states including South Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Kansas.
Last month, Democrats made big gains across the country by taking key state legislative seats, two governorships and full…