Republican success extended down-ballot into statehouses on Tuesday night, as the party flipped three Democratic-held governorships, putting them in position to achieve historic success in state capitols.
The GOP won elections for governor in New Hampshire, Vermont, and Missouri, taking seats from Democrats who did not seek reelection. If Republicans win the remaining races in North Carolina and Montana—which all remained too close to call Wednesday morning as Democrats led by thousands of votes apiece—they would reach an all-time high of 35 governors. The current record dates to 1922, when the GOP held 34 of the state executive offices.
“Republican gubernatorial candidates had a huge night,” said Republican Governors Association spokesman Jon Thompson. “Republican governors across the country have demonstrated an ability to lead and get results, and voters in these states highly agreed.”
New Hampshire Gov.-elect Chris Sununu defeated Democrat Colin Van Ostern. Both executive councilors were neck-and-neck in public polling leading up to Election Day. But Sununu, the son and brother of a former New Hampshire governor and senator, won by 16,000 votes by highlighting his career as a ski-resort manager and environmental engineer.
Republican Phil Scott in Vermont also outpaced Democrat Sue Minter to replace Democratic Gov. Peter Shumlin, who decided not to seek reelection for another two years after barely winning reelection in 2014. On the trail and in TV ads, Scott focused on the economy and offered moderate positions on abortion, which Democrats through outside groups attempted to discredit. Scott also remains one of the party’s most strident opponents of Donald Trump, saying he would not vote for the Republican presidential candidate long before he secured the nomination.
In Missouri, first-time candidate Eric Greitens, a Democrat-turned-Republican, prevailed over state Attorney General Chris Koster, a Republican-turned-Democrat, to succeed term-limited Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon. Greitens was able to ride Trump’s coattails after months of trailing Koster in public polling, closing the gap with an on-air TV onslaught funded by $11 million from the RGA.
Republicans were also able to hold Indiana after Mike Pence abandoned his reelection campaign to run for vice president. With the help of millions of dollars from the RGA and Pence’s reelection campaign, recently-appointed Lt. Gov. Eric Holcomb defeated John Gregg, a Democratic former state speaker and 2012 Pence opponent.
Democrats were able to stanch the electoral bleeding in West Virginia, where coal magnate Jim Justice defeated state Senate President Bill Cole, even as Trump easily won the state. Justice, a former Republican and a wealthy self-funder, campaigned on promising job growth and protecting the state’s fossil-fuel industry.
Democrats could have another bright spot in North Carolina, where state Attorney General Roy Cooper declared victory Wednesday morning, confident that remaining precincts in typically Democratic areas would keep him in the lead, which sat at just over 5,000 votes as of early Wednesday morning.
As of Wednesday, no incumbent governor has officially lost reelection this cycle. Republican Gary Herbert of Utah easily won a third term, and Democratic Govs. Kate Brown in Oregon and Jay Inslee in Washington also won races for another two and four years in office, respectively. Delaware Democrat John Carney and North Dakota Republican Doug Burgum, both of whom were heavy favorites, also won open governorships.
This story was updated at 3 a.m. on Nov. 9.