GOP Extends Edge Among Governors

Republicans flipped seats in New Hampshire, Vermont, and Missouri, while Democrats held the edge in too-close-to-call North Carolina and Montana.

Missouri Republican Gov.-elect Eric Greitens delivers a victory speech alongside his wife, Sheena, and son Joshua on Tuesday in Chesterfield, Mo.
AP Photo/Jeff Curry
Nov. 9, 2016, 2:27 a.m.

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.

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