Republicans defend their own governors' mansions and also picked up some in blue states
Democrats lost in Massachusetts, Maryland and Illinois
The lone bright spot for Democrats was in Pennsylvania
President Barack Obama’s home state of Illinois elected a Republican governor on Tuesday night. Massachusetts will have its first Republican governor since Mitt Romney.
Stunning Republican gubernatorial victories came in reliably Democratic states, including those won overwhelmingly by Obama in 2012. Illinois ousted Democrat Pat Quinn in favor of Republican Bruce Rauner, while Maryland voters opted for Republican Larry Hogan over Democrat Anthony Brown. Republican Charlie Baker won a Massachusetts match-up against Martha Coakley, the state attorney general who lost a special Senate election to Scott Brown in 2010.
Republicans also continued their dominance of governors’ mansions when a number of GOP leaders fought off stiff challenges from Democrats.
Republican Rick Scott defeated Republican-turned-Democrat Charlie Crist in Florida’s very tight and hotly contested race.
Wisconsin’s Scott Walker and Georgia’s Nathan Deal both narrowly won re-election in the face of well-financed Democratic challenges, according to CNN projections. Ohio’s John Kasich, Iowa’s Terry Branstad and New Mexico’s Susana Martinez also dispatched weaker Democratic challengers. And bombastic Maine Republican Gov. Paul LePage survived a stiff challenge from Rep. Michael Michaud to win a second term.
In Connecticut, the race between Democrat Dannel Malloy and Republican Tom Foley was too close to project a winner – as was Colorado’s battle between Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper and Republican challenger Bob Beauprez.
The lone bright spot for Democrats was in Pennsylvania, where Republican Tom Corbett was unseated by Democrat Tom Wolf.
The Republican Governors Association, the organization tasked with helping elect GOP governors, touted their victories on Tuesday night as proof their lawmakers have delivered “progress on jobs” and will take their states “in the right direction” for the next four years.
“Governor Walker is a doer; a true public servant who steps up to the plate, takes on the tough issues, and makes the hard decisions,” RGA Chairman Chris Christie in a statement about the Wisconsin Republican.
“Governor Deal’s ambitious leadership is the driving force behind Georgia’s progress on jobs, the economy, education and criminal justice reform, and in his second term, he will continue to bring his vision for a more vibrant Georgia to life,” Christie said about Georgia’s governor.
Many of the Republican lawmakers on the ballot were swept into office in 2010 on a wave of Tea Party excitement. In the lead up to Election Day, Democrats had hoped Republicans would not be able to match that excitement, leading their candidates to stem the tide of Republican victories across the country in Senate and House races.
As polls closed across the country, that doesn’t appear to be the case. Republican governors also held seats in party strongholds of Alabama, Oklahoma and South Carolina.
While Democratic governors in New York, New Hampshire, Minnesota, California and Oregon all kept their seats, only one Democratic challenger – Wolf in Pennsylvania – unseated a Republican incumbent, according to CNN’s projections.
“Never before has an incumbent governor in Pennsylvania been defeated for re-election, but that changed tonight,” Peter Shumlin, chair of the Democratic Governors Association, said in a statement Tuesday.
“Tom Wolf inspired voters in every region with his tireless energy on the campaign trail and his vision for creating the fresh start that the people of Pennsylvania so badly need.”