Republicans Dominate Governors' Races
Policy + Politics

Republicans Dominate Governors' Races

REUTERS/Darren Hauck

By nearly every measure, Tuesday night was a good night to be a Republican. 

As expected, the GOP seized control of the Senate and extended its majority in the House of Representatives, but Republicans also managed to clinch victory in almost all of the fiercely competitive gubernatorial races that, for weeks, had been considered toss ups – and GOP candidates managed to come away with some shocking wins in traditionally blue states like Massachusetts and Maryland as well.

At least nine of the 11 most closely watched state-level contests ultimately tipped in the GOP’s favor late Tuesday night, though some races were still too close to call by early Wednesday morning.

In Wisconsin, Gov. Scott Walker was re-elected for the third time in four years, including a bruising recall election in 2012, after he pushed for legislation that effectively ended collective bargaining for state workers. Walker has been mentioned as a potential 2016 presidential contender, and his victory over Democratic challenger Mary Burke is likely to further boost his standing as a possible presidential candidate. 

Related: How Scott Walker Would Reform the GOP 

In Florida’s bitterly contested race, Gov. Rick Scott beat out his Democrat challenger and former Florida governor, Charlie Crist. In Illinois, Republican billionaire Bruce Rauner ousted Democratic incumbent Pat Quinn by a margin of 51-46 with 99 percent of precincts reporting.

Likewise, in Maryland, Republican businessman Larry Hogan delivered a stunning defeat of Democratic Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, becoming only the second Republican to lead the state in forty years. In Massachusetts, Democrat Martha Coakley, the state’s attorney general, lost to Republican Charles Baker four years after she was defeated by Scott Brown in a special election for the U.S. Senate.

In Kansas, embattled Gov. Sam Brownback fended off a stiff challenge from Democrat Paul Davis, becoming just the second Republican governor to win re-election in the state in 50 years in after a contest that was widely seen as a referendum on his conservative tax-cutting reforms.

Likewise, the Republican governors of Michigan, Georgia, and Maine all won re-election, as the GOP added at least three governor’s seats overall. One of those seats that flipped from blue to red was in Arkansas, where former Rep. Asa Hutchinson easily bested Democrat Mike Ross. Term limits has barred Democratic Gov. Mike Beebe from seeking another four years in office.

Pennsylvania and Rhode Island were among the few bright spots for Democrats. In the Keystone State, Democrat Tom Wolf defeated Republican incumbent Tom Corbett, who became the first Pennsylvania governor to be ousted after one term since 1970. In Rhode Island, Gina Raimondo topped Republican Allan Fung to become the first female governor in the state’s history.

Connecticut Gov. Dan Malloy also appeared to win re-election, though the votes were still being tallied late into the night.

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