WASHINGTON, Nov. 5, 2014 -- Republican governors held control of important swing states such as Florida, Michigan and Ohio in Tuesday’s voting, while posting upset victories in Democratic strongholds including Maryland, Massachusetts and Illinois. Republicans won two-thirds of the 36 governor races and in the New Year will be in charge in at least 31 of the 50 statehouses.
Perhaps the most significant GOP victory came in Wisconsin where conservative incumbent Scott Walker, who made headlines by taking on public sector unions and winning a recall vote, defeated Democratic businesswoman Mary Burke, raising his standing as a potential presidential candidate two years from now.
There were few bright spots for Democrats as the GOP wave swept across the country. One was in Pennsylvania where businessman Tom Wolf ousted Republican incumbent Tom Corbett who had angered many voters by pushing big cuts in public education. But in the very Blue state of Maryland, the Democratic lieutenant governor Anthony Brown was upset by Republican businessman Larry Hogan, and in Massachusetts, Charlie Baker will become the state’s first Republican governor since Mitt Romney left office in 2007. He defeated Democrat Martha Coakley, the state’s attorney general who was seeking to become Massachusetts’ first female governor.
Some other closely watched races include:
KANSAS – Republican incumbent Sam Brownback won re-election despite objections from many voters to his tough conservative agenda involving dramatic tax and spending cuts. Brownback earned just under 50 percent of the vote, compared to about 46 percent for Democrat Paul Davis, the state House minority leader.
FLORIDA – Democrats were hoping their candidate, former Republican governor Charlie Crist, could cash in on his statewide recognition and win the governor’s mansion for the party for the first time in two decades. It didn’t happen. Republican Gov. Rick Scott beat Crist by about 1 percentage point in a campaign in which the candidates and their allies spent about $100 million on television ads.
GEORGIA – Republican Gov. Nathan Deal beat Democrat Jason Carter, a state senator and the grandson of former President Jimmy Carter, by about 8 percentage points.
ILLINOIS – GOP challenger Bruce Rauner, a wealthy businessman, handily defeated the incumbent Democrat Pat Quinn, spending $26 million of his fortune in the campaign. Rauner garnered 50.7 percent of the vote, to Quinn’s 45.9 percent.
Some races weren’t decided until Wednesday afternoon, more than half a day after the polls closed. In Connecticut, that’s when Republican Tom Foley conceded that incumbent Democratic Dannel Malloy was the winner. The race was a rematch from 2010. The contest in Colorado also wasn’t decided until well into Wednesday, as Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper narrowly defeated bison rancher Bob Beauprez.
In Alaska, independent candidate Bill Walker early Wednesday held a slim lead of just over 3,100 votes over Republican Gov. Sean Parnell with about 20,000 absentee ballots left to be counted. Results of that count won’t be known until Nov 19.
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