Montana's Democratic Attorney General Steve Bullock has defeated former Republican Rep. Rick Hill, according to the Associated Press, blocking Republicans in a state that was a prime pick-up opportunity for the party. With 94 percent of precincts reporting, the AP called the race with Bullock leading Hill 49 percent to 47 percent. Bullock's victory leaves Republican in control of 30 governor's mansions across the country, while Democrats hold 19. The race for the remaining seat in Washington state remains too close to call.
Bullock succeeds term-limited Gov. Brian Schweitzer, whose popularity in the state helped boost his fellow Democrat's chances, despite the success of other Republican candidates statewide.
Bullock, a moderate, pro-gun Democrat, largely promised to continue to the successful policies of his predecessor, while maintaining distance from national Democrats. Hill, meanwhile, was hobbled by an October court decision that stopped him from spending a contested $500,000 donation from the state Republican party, forcing him to pull advertising and cancel events in the contest's critical final weeks. Montana, led by Bullock, fought fiercely against the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision -- the state outlawed corporate contributions to political campaigns in 1918. Nonetheless, outside groups spent more than $7 million on the race, with nearly $3 million supporting Bullock. The Republican Governors Association dropped more than $4 million on Hill, hoping to put the keys to the governor's mansion back in Republican hands after eight years of Democratic control.