- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 5, 2008

UPDATE 2:

Democratic governors on Tuesday increased their national advantage over Republicans by one, successfully defending six of their own seats and snatching the governors mansion in Missouri away from the GOP.

The Associated Press reported early Wednesday that Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire had successfully fended off Republican challenger Dino Rossi, a former state senator who she beat by 133 votes in 2004.

With that win, the Democratic majority in governorships is now 29-to-22 for the Republicans, heading into the enormous 2010 election, where 36 governorships will be up for grabs.

After the 2010 census, governors will wield enormous control over redrawing of congressional districts.

Besides Washington, Democrats won the other race they thought they might lose, in North Carolina, and picked up the Republican spot they were expected to in Missouri.

North Carolina Lt. Gov. Beverly Perdue had been the most endangered Democrat but narrowly held off Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory, a Republican, by a mere three percentage points.

“North Carolina represented one of the most competitive races in the country,” said Nathan Daschle, executive director of the Democratic Governor’s Association.

The DGA spent $4 million on Ms. Perdue’s behalf.

“We invested more in this race than in any other in history,” Mr. Daschle said.

Mr. McCrory had been looking to buck the national anti-Republican trend and win in a state run by Democratic governors for 88 of the last 100 years. Mr. McCrory, who is white, had built a strong base of support among black voters in Charlotte.

But it appeared that the toxic environment for Republicans dashed the mayor’s hopes for an upset.

Ms. Perdue ran on her own record of eight years as lieutenant governor and 14 years in the state legislature, promising improvements in transportation and government transparency. The two candidates spent the last day before the election on Monday trading barbs about illegal immigration.

In Missouri, Democratic Attorney General Jay Nixon crushed Republican former congressman Kenny Hulshof by 18 points.

Republicans held on to the Indiana governor’s mansion and three other incumbent seats.

Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels had received 58 percent to challenger Jill Long Thompson’s 40 percent, with 95 percent of precincts reporting.

“The election of Governor Daniels shows that problem-solving Republicans can win in any environment,” said Nick Ayers, executive director of the Republican Governor’s Association. “The Indiana voters rewarded Governor Daniels for his stewardship of the state over the past four years.”

In Vermont, the other Republican incumbent who had looked vulnerable was sailing to victory. Gov. Jim Douglas held a 56 percent to 21 percent lead over House Speaker Gaye Symington, with 43 percent of precincts reporting.

Mr. Douglas had held a big lead in polls, but he needed to win at least 50 percent of the vote in order to avoid the contest going to the Democratic-controlled stage legislature for a vote.

Mr. Douglas had been getting scores in the low 40’s, however, largely because of a third party candidate, political activist Anthony Pollina, who has been polling in double digits.

Republicans Gov. John Hoeven of North Dakota and Gov. Jon Huntsman of Utah easily defended their seats.

Democrats in Montana, New Hampshire, West Virginia and Delaware also breezed to victory as expected.

West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin, the chair of the Democratic Governors Association who won his own reelection, congratulated Delaware’s Gov.-elect Jack Markell on his win.

“We are excited that Delaware will continue to have a Democratic Governor,” Mr. Manchin said. “Jack Markell will be a tireless advocate for Delaware and will provide the strong, steady leadership needed in these uncertain economic times.”

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