The upcoming midterm elections will do more than establish who controls Congress for the remainder of President Joe Biden’s term.

Voters across three dozen states will also be choosing a governor for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic started.

Governors were thrust into the national spotlight over the past two years due largely to the pandemic, but also as a result of Washington's paralysis on a host of issues.

That means the national tug-of-war is bleeding over at the state level, and the importance of the chief executive, especially in those battleground areas, is coming into focus as much as the midterm races for Congress.

Many of the incumbents seeking reelection this year were the first line of defense in fighting the disease in early 2020. How they handled the crisis through continued restrictions, school closures and mask mandates will be a point of contention this year.

Beyond COVID-19, however, gubernatorial candidates are facing a series of different challenges that mirror the debates in Washington, including how they plan to handle violent crime, voting rights and abortion access in light of the Supreme Court’s ruling knocking down Roe.

The rematch between Democrat Stacey Abrams and Republican incumbent Brian Kemp is arguably the headline gubernatorial contest of 2022.

Abrams lost by half a percentage point in 2018, but now she is a national powerbroker with the campaign cash to prove it. She has $18.5 million in the bank versus Kemp's $7 million, according to state campaign finance records.

But the summer polls show Kemp’s popularity remains strong after beating Trump-backed challenger David Perdue, a former U.S. senator, in the primary.FiveThirtyEight shows Kemp holding an average lead of roughly 6 percentage points across roughly a dozen surveys conducted over the summer.