- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Missouri’s governors mansion on Tuesday turned from red to blue, momentarily increasing the Democratic Party’s national advantage over Republicans as Democrats fought to retain control of seats in North Carolina and Washington.

Missouri’s Democratic attorney general, Jay Nixon, held a comfortable 58 percent to 40 percent lead over former Republican Congressman Kenny Hulshof when the Associated Press called the race for Mr. Nixon.

Republicans held on to the Indiana governor’s mansion and three other incumbent seats. They were trailing in North Carolina, where they had hoped to pick up a traditionally Democratic seat.

Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels had received 59 percent to challenger Jill Long Thompson’s 39 percent, with 90 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 Governors Association. “The Indiana voters rewarded Governor Daniels for his stewardship of the state over the past four years.”

Democrats went into this election with a 28-22 advantage in governorships, and of the six they were defending, only two were tossups: North Carolina and Washington.

In 2010, there will be 36 governorships up for grabs. After the 2010 census, governors will wield enormous control over the redrawing of congressional districts.

But in North Carolina, Republican Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory was trailing Democratic Lt. Gov. Beverly Perdue by three points, 50 percent to 47 percent, with 88 percent of precincts reporting.

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 past 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 may have 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.

Though a Democratic governorship in Washington looked vulnerable, Democrats expressed confidence that they would be ahead in a contest that might not be determined for several days. Washingtonians could mail in their ballots through the end of Tuesday.

Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire was trying to defeat former state Sen. Dino Rossi, a Republican whom she beat by only 133 votes in 2004.

Each candidate raised large amounts of cash, with the Cook Political Report estimating that more than $40 million had been spent on the contest.

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 Democrat-controlled state legislature for a vote.

Mr. Douglas had been getting scores in the low 40s, 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 III, chairman of the Democratic Governors Association who won his own re-election, congratulated Delaware 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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