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Democrats Gained 7 Seats, Losing None

Republicans defended several key seats including Florida and Iowa.

Nov. 7, 2018, 11:15 a.m.

“Democrats put a dent in the Republicans’ historically large advantage in governor seats Tuesday, picking up at least seven seats—as of 7:30 a.m.—while the GOP held on in a handful of contests that had drawn national attention. Republicans defended key seats in Florida, Georgia, Iowa and Ohio, but lost those in Wisconsin, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico, Illinois, and Maine, plus the biggest upset of the night in Kansas, where Democratic state Sen. Laura Kelly defeated Kris Kobach. Races in Alaska, Connecticut, and Georgia remained uncalled as of Wednesday morning.” (Hotline reporting)

GOVERNORS WHO LOST. Republicans Scott Walker of Wisconsin and Bruce Rauner of Illinois. Independent Bill Walker of Alaska withdrew from the race last month but remained on the ballot.

TOO CLOSE TO CALL.

AK GOV: The race is too close to call as of Wednesday morning with state Sen. Mike Dunleavy (R) leading former Sen. Mark Begich (D) 45-38 percent with 98 percent of precincts reporting. (AP)

GA GOV: Secretary of State Brian Kemp (R) led former state House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams (D) 51-49 percent with 100 percent of precincts reporting. (AP)

COLORADO. Gov. -elect Jared Polis (D) defeated state Treasurer Walker Stapleton (R) 52-45 with 84 percent of precincts reporting. (AP)

Polis “will be the first openly gay person to serve as a state’s governor. … Polis’s splash into the history books is all the more significant considering the ugly track record of the state he has been elected to run. Since the early 1990s, Colorado has played a key role in the battle for LGBT rights. The state was dubbed the “hate state” because of a 1992 law that sparked international backlash and boycotts. But the same legislation teed up a landmark 1996 U.S. Supreme Court decision that helped lay the groundwork for marriage equality.” (Washington Post)

FLORIDA. Gov. -elect Ron DeSantis (R) defeated Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum (D) 50-49 percent with 99 percent of precincts reporting. (AP)

“DeSantis, a 40-year-old former congressman, fended off his opponent,” Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum (D), “one of the strongest candidates Florida Democrats had fielded in years. Republicans have now won every election for governor since 1998. … He thanked President Trump for standing by him ‘when it wasn’t necessarily the smart thing to do.’”

DeSantis to Trump: “I think you are going to get tired of me calling you asking you for things for Florida.”

“DeSantis pledged to choose ‘constitutionalist’ judges — he will get to name replacements in January to three liberal-leaning justices who are term-limited on the State Supreme Court — fight toxic algae blooms, protect military veterans and keep scholarships for low-income students to attend private schools. Gillum conceded the race at around 11 p.m. after running behind most of the night.” (New York Times)

MAINE. Gov.-elect Janet Mills (D) defeated businessman Shawn Moody (R) 50-44 percent with 74 percent of precincts reporting. (AP)

MICHIGAN. Gov. -elect Gretchen Whitmer (D) defeated state Attorney General Bill Schuette (R) 53-44 percent with 93 percent of precincts reporting. (AP) “The former legislative leader will become the second female governor in a state where Democrats heavily targeted other statewide and legislative offices. Whitmer has won the Michigan governor's race to break a Republican power bloc that had been a top target for Democrats. … Whitmer's victory continues a trend of party changes in Michigan. Voters have not elected back-to-back governors of the same party since the 1960s.” (AP)

NEVADA. Clark County Commissioner Steve Sisolak (D) defeated state Attorney General Adam Laxalt (R) 49-45 percent with 92 percent of precincts reporting. (AP)

This flips the seat blue for the first time in two decades as Sisolak will take over for Gov. Brian Sandoval (R) who is term-limited. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)

NEW MEXICO. Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) will become New Mexico’s first Democratic Latina governor after defeating Rep. Steve Pearce (R) 57-43 percent with 98 percent of precincts reporting. (AP)

She follows term-limited Gov. Susana Martinez (R), also a Latina, who was the first woman to hold that office. “Lujan Grisham’s victory will mean Democratic control of the Governor’s Office and both legislative chambers for the first time since 2010, when former Gov. Bill Richardson stepped down after two terms in office.” (Albuquerque Journal)

OHIO. State Attorney General Mike DeWine (R) defeated former CFPB Director Richard Cordray (D) 52-46 percent with all precincts reporting. (AP)

DeWine previously unseated Cordray as attorney general back in 2010. (Columbus Dispatch)

SOUTH DAKOTA. Gov. -elect Kristi Noem (R) defeated state Senate Minority Leader Billie Sutton (D) 51-48 percent with 100 percent of precincts reporting. (AP)

“Noem made history Tuesday night by becoming the first woman elected as governor of South Dakota” The state “proved resistant to the anti-Trump fervor that helped Democrats nationally take back the U.S. House. When the Blue Wave hits a Red Wall, you know you're near Mount Rushmore. Which is how Noem managed to make history without anything really changing. Her triumph was the hallmark of the GOP’s 8-for-8 sweep of statewide races in South Dakota. It also moved Noem’s career record to 6-0, cementing her status as a Republican force whose ruby-red resume and telegenic appeal could someday thrust her onto the national scene.” (Sioux Falls Argus Leader)

WISCONSIN. Gov. -elect Tony Evers (D) defeated Gov. Scott Walker (R) 50-48 percent with 99 percent of precincts reporting. (AP)

“The race was so close that Walker's team said a detailed review of balloting and a recount were possible. But an unofficial tally had Evers winning by 1.1 percentage points — a margin that would be too large for a recount if it held.”

Evers: “It's time for a change, folks. I will be focused on solving problems, not on picking political fights."

Walker campaign adviser Brian Reisinger: “Thousands of ballots were damaged and had to be re-created. ... Until there is a comparison of the original ballots to the re-created ballots, there is no way to judge their validity." Reisinger “said Walker would wait until the official canvass and tallying military ballots before deciding what to do.” (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

INCUMBENTS WIN.

IA GOV: Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) won her first full term, beating former state economic development official Fred Hubbell (D) 50-47 percent with 100 percent of precincts reporting. (AP)

NH GOV: Gov. Chris Sununu (R) won a second term, beating former state Sen. Molly Kelly (D) 52-46 percent with 90 percent of precincts reporting. (AP)

OR GOV: Gov. Kate Brown (D) overcame challenger Rep. Knute Buehler (R), winning her first full term 50-44 percent with 91 percent of precincts reporting. (AP)

PA GOV: Gov. Tom Wolf (D) won a second term, beating former state Sen. Scott Wagner (R) 58-41 percent with 99 percent of precincts reporting. (Secretary of State)

RI GOV: Gov. Gina Raimondo (D) beat back a challenge from Cranston Mayor Allan Fung (R) 53-47 percent with 99 percent of precincts reporting. (AP)

STATE LEGISLATURES. "Democrats scored significant wins Tuesday in 2018 legislative elections—but it was hardly a blowout. Republicans continue to have a robust advantage in legislative and state control, as they have since 2010. And the elections held few surprises. Democrats won five legislative chambers from Republicans as well as moving the Connecticut Senate from tied to their column. That’s a shift of only six chambers, well below the average chamber switch of 12 in election cycles all the way back to 1900." (National Conference of State Legislatures)

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