Governors races take on new prominence, with higher stakes

FILE - Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers speaks during an event attended by President Biden at Henry Maier Festival Park in Milwaukee, Sept. 5, 2022. Evers who is up for reelection warns voters that democracy is on the ballot this fall and notes he has vetoed more bills than any governor in modern state history, including measures Republicans pushed to change how elections are conducted. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — Governors races often are overshadowed by the fight for control of Congress during midterm elections. But this fall, which candidate wins a state's top executive post could be pivotal for the nation's political future.

With abortion rights, immigration policies and democracy itself in the balance, both parties are entering the final weeks before the Nov. 8 election prepared to spend unprecedented amounts of money to win seats for governor. Those elected will be in power for the 2024 election, when they could influence voting laws as well as certification of the outcome. And their powers over abortion rights increased greatly when the U.S. Supreme Court in June left the question to states to decide.

"Governors races matter more than ever," said North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper, chair of the Democratic Governors Association, the group working to elect Democrats to lead states.

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