Moderates inherit the governor's mansions
Good day for Bush familyBy Jim Barnes/National Journal magazine
(ATLANTA) -- Moderation was the message of the day in governor's races across the country Tuesday. Republican and Democratic candidates alike who campaigned as centrists and eschewed ideological partisan positions usually fared well.
For instance, two Midwestern victors, Republican George Ryan in Illinois and Democrat Tom Vilsak in Iowa, both won close races and carried voters who described themselves as moderates and those who called themselves independents.
In an unusual move by a Republican, Ryan campaigned as the candidate who supported stricter gun control laws and attacked his Democratic opponent, Rep. Glenn Poshard, for his past opposition to gun control legislation.
Illinois voters agreed: 72 percent of the voters supported stricter gun control laws in Illinois, and Ryan carried that group, 59 percent to 40 percent. At the same time, Ryan didn't alienate gun control opponents; they backed Ryan 57 percent to 39 percent.
In Iowa, Vilsak embraced the issue of more spending for education, while his Republican opponent, Jim Ross Lightfoot, thought that cutting taxes was more important. Iowa voters agreed with Vilsak: 49 percent favored more education spending, while 46 percent wanted tax cuts. Among those who backed more educational spending, 68 percent supported Vilsak. Among the tax cutters, 60 percent supported Lightfoot.
Healthy economies help GOP in some states
In other states, the strong performance of state economies tended to benefit Republicans. In Ohio, for instance, more than three-quarters of voters rated the state economy as excellent or good, and they backed Republican Secretary of State Bob Taft, who sought to replace outgoing Republican Gov. George Voinovich.
Republican acting Gov. Paul Cellucci won a tough race in Massachusetts, in no small part because voters there thought the economy was doing well and they liked his support for cutting taxes further.
But one place where the Republican candidate was not rewarded for the economy's performance was in California, where Democratic Lt. Gov. Gray Davis won the biggest statehouse in the nation, defeating Republican State Attorney General Dan Lungren.
Although California has been run by a Republican governor for the last 16 years and most voters gave the state's economy high marks, that didn't help Lungren. For example, 69 percent of the voters in the California governor's race said that the state's economy was in good shape, but they favored Davis 55 percent to 43 percent over Lungren. And among voters who expected the state's economy to get better next year, Davis carried those voters, 64 percent to 35 percent.
Davis also did well among Hispanic voters, who are still angry at outgoing Republican Gov. Pete Wilson, who supported tough anti-immigration measures. Davis carried Hispanics, a growing share of the California electorate, 77 percent to 19 percent.
And despite Lungren's efforts to portray Davis as too liberal for the state, Davis handily carried moderate voters, 63 percent to 34 percent. He also carried self-described independents, 54 percent to 37 percent.
Bush brothers clean up
For the family of former President George Bush, the story from the statehouses was sweet indeed.
Texas Republican Gov. George W. Bush won an overwhelming re-election victory. The governor, who had a track record of working with the Democrats in the state Legislature during his first term in Austin and who was endorsed by the outgoing Democratic Lt. Gov. Paul Hobby, carried moderate voters 58 percent to 42 percent over his Democratic opponent, Garry Mauro. George W. Bush also swept independents, 70 percent to 26 percent.
In his victory speech Tuesday night, he said that his message of compassionate conservatism would attract voters to the Republican party who don't normally find a home there. Among Hispanic voters, he captured 47 percent, a high mark for a GOP candidate. He also carried lower working class voters, those with incomes of $15,000 to $30,000.
Meanwhile, the former president's other son, Jeb Bush, captured the governorship in Florida, which eluded him four years ago when he first ran for governor. Jeb Bush carried Florida's Hispanic voters 58 percent to 42 percent. While he did not win the moderate vote in the state, he improved his showing among this group over his performance in 1994 and swept the conservative vote, 83 percent to 17 percent.
Women push Ventura to win
And in perhaps the most unusual governor's race on November 3, Reform Party candidate Jesse "The Body" Ventura captured Minnesota's statehouse over Democratic State Attorney General Hubert "Skip" Humphrey III and Republican St. Paul Mayor Norm Coleman.
In the three-way race, Ventura won the votes of self-described moderates with 40 percent to 32 percent for Humphrey and 27 percent for Coleman. Ventura also prevailed among independents, taking 52 percent to 28 percent for Coleman and 18 percent for Humphrey.
Ventura, an ex-professional wrestler, did well among male voters, winning 38 percent, just behind the 39 percent who voted for Coleman. But it was Ventura's stronger showing among women that allowed him to prevail over Coleman: Ventura won 36 percent of the female vote, while Coleman, the runner-up in the three-way contest, took only 29 percent of the female vote.
Ironically, had Ventura not run, the television network exit poll indicated that Coleman would have won Minnesota's statehouse, by about 47 percent to 39 percent over Humphrey.(Jim Barnes was an Election Night analyst for CNN.)
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Edwards unseats Faircloth in tight North Carolina race
Moseley-Braun loses to Republican Fitzgerald
Democratic Boxer wins fight for Senate seat
Washington's Murray heads back to the Senate
Incumbent Hollings wins close race in South Carolina
Bunning ekes out win against Baesler
Reid defends Democratic Senate seat in Nevada
Coverdell outdistances Democratic Senate opponent
Campbell wins Colorado
Lincoln defeats Boozman, Dems retain Arkansas Senate seat
Gov. Voinovich wins Senate race in Ohio, defeats Democrat Boyle
Democrat Bayh easily defeats Helmke in Indiana
Analysis: Moderation sweeps the Senate
Democrat Inslee bests incumbent White for Washington House seat
Affair doesn't dampen support for Idaho's Chenoweth
Democrats hold on to Colorado's 2nd district
Sanchez trumps Dornan again in California House race
Udall wins Redmond's New Mexico House seat
Tradeoff in the bluegrass: Parties switch Kentucky House seats
Familiar faces still around the House
Baldwin breaks barrier, becomes first openly lesbian House member
Second time the charm for Hoeffel in Pennsylvania House race
Berkley takes Las Vegas House seat for Democrats
Open Mississippi House seat goes to Democrat Shows
House leader Bonior fends off GOP challenge in Michigan
Snowbarger's Kansas district picked up by Democrat Moore
Green pulls Republican upset in Wisconsin
Simpson keeps Idaho's 2nd district in GOP hands
Toomey takes Pennsylvania's 15th District for GOP
Democrats to make historic gains in House
Republican Sherwood wins open seat in Pennsylvania's 10th House district
Hawaii rehires Abercrombie in House race
Swing Connecticut district chooses Democrat Maloney again
Republican Ryan beats Spottswood in Wisconsin's 1st district
Illinois Rep. Evans bests Baker in closely watched contest
Republican Baker fends off tough challenge in Louisiana House race
Iowa's Boswell fends off Republican n House race
Chabot holds off Democratic challenge
Strickland retains Ohio's 6th district
Bellwether Kentucky, Indiana House races split
Owens first GOP Colorado governor in more than two decades
Moderates inherit the governor's mansions
Former wrestler takes stunning win in Minnesota
Guinn edges Democrat rival to pick up Nevada
Knowles wins rare 2nd term in Alaska
GOP Geringer keeps Wyoming
Easy victory for Oregon Gov. Kitzhaber
Ryan picks up Illinois governorship
Democrat Davis wins heralded California governorship
Cellucci stays as Massachusetts governor
Conservative Johanns wins Nebraska governorship
Gov. Ridge wins big in Pennsylvania
Kempthorne wins landslide in Idaho
Democrat wins Iowa for first time in 30 years
Thompson wins record 4th term in Wisconsin
Taft wins close governor race in Ohio
Keating remains Oklahoma governor
GOP Gov. Janklow keeps South Dakota seat
New Mexico Gov. Johnson retains post
GOP Gov. Almond keeps Rhode Island seat
Gov. Engler easily wins re-election in Michigan
Barnes edges GOP rival for Georgia's top spot
Gov. Huckabee wins re-election in Arkansas
Arizona GOP Hull stays in office
Independent King keeps Maine seat
Kansas Gov. Graves easily wins re-election
Rowland wins re-election in Connecticut
Glendening retains office in Maryland
Siegelmen unseats incumbent James in Alabama
Sundquist stays as Tennessee governor
Texas Gov. George W. Bush wins in landslide
Hodges wins South Carolina governor race
Dean easily keeps Vermont governor seat
Jeb Bush wins big in Florida
Democrat Shaheen retains New Hampshire seat, gets third of GOP vote
Prop. 3 failure places California presidential primary in limbo
Medical marijuana popular at polls
Anti-affirmative action ballot measure
Washington state voters tie minimum wage to inflation
California OKs Indian gambling expansion
South Carolina removes ban on interracial marriage
Michigan voters soundly reject physician-assisted suicide
Plan to boost Calif. cigarette tax too close to call