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Democrats Pick Up Governorships But Lose Florida and Ohio

2018-11-07 19:42
Democrats won governorships on Nov. 6 in several states but lost high-profile races in Florida and Ohio, as voters cast ballots in dozens of gubernatorial contests across the country. The hotly contested race in Georgia, where Democrat Stacey Abrams was seeking to become the first black woman to be elected governor of a U.S. state, remained too close to call early on Wednesday. In Florida, Democrat Andrew Gillum suffered a narrow defeat to Republican Ron DeSantis. Republicans also scored a major victory in Ohio's governor race, where Mike DeWine, the state attorney general, defeated Democrat Richard Cordray, who served as the first director of the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. But in Wisconsin, Democrat Tony Evers pulled off a narrow win in unseating Republican incumbent Scott Walker, according to data provider DDHQ. The two-term governor, who also survived a Democratic-driven recall election in 2012 after ending collective bargaining for public workers, briefly ran for president in 2016. In Michigan, Democrat Gretchen Whitmer turned back Republican Bill Schuette in the contest to replace Republican Gov. Rick Snyder, who could not run again due to term limits. In Kansas, Democrat Laura Kelly defeated Kris Kobach, where outgoing Republican Gov. Sam Brownback suffered from low approval ratings. Democratic candidates also triumphed in Illinois, Maine, New Mexico, and Nevada, where Republicans had held the governorships. All told, Democrats had flipped at least seven Republican-held governorships without suffering any losses as of early morning on Nov. 7. While much of focus of the elections was on which party would win control of the U.S. Congress, Republicans and Democrats were battling across the country for state-level power, which could have a major impact on issues such as congressional redistricting and health care. 'Every Vote Counted' In Georgia, Abrams, 44, was locked in a tight battle with Republican Brian Kemp, the state's secretary of state. By 5 a.m. EST, Kemp held a two-point lead and cleared the 50 percent threshold necessary to avoid a runoff. Abrams told her supporters that she expected a runoff once all votes were counted. Democrat Ben Jealous lost his bid to become Maryland's governor to incumbent Republican Larry Hogan. The races in Florida and Georgia were seen as a test of whether liberal candidates could prevail in Southern states, where centrist Democrats have repeatedly lost, by appealing to a coalition of young and minority voters. Both DeSantis and Kemp had strong support from Trump, who traveled to their states in the closing days of the campaigns to energize Republicans at "Make America Great Again" rallies. Democratic former President Barack Obama swooped in to boost the Democrats, and media star Oprah Winfrey visited Georgia on behalf of Abrams. Neither Georgia nor Florida has elected a Democratic governor in 20 years. Republican Dominance Going into Nov. 6, Republicans controlled 33 governors' mansions and two-thirds of state legislative chambers. The Democratic Party said it flipped at least six state legislative chambers on the strength of local races. Democrats now have complete control of state government in Colorado, New York, Illinois, Maine, and New Mexico. Democrats, playing catch-up after a net loss of 13 governorships and more than 900 state legislative seats during the eight-year Obama administration, fielded their largest slate of legislative candidates in more than three decades. The outcome of elections for state positions could also affect future control of the U.S. House of Representatives. Governors and hundreds of legislators elected this year will be in office when congressional districts are redrawn after the 2020 Census. In some states, a governor's power to sign or veto congressional maps could decide the partisan balance. Republicans were eyeing a potential pickup in Connecticut, traditionally a Democratic state, where the contest was too close to call on Wednesday morning. By Letitia Stein Epoch Times reporter Ivan Pentchoukov contrib