Republicans capture at least 10 governorships

Governors are set to play increasingly important roles in 2012 presidential politics, especially in swing states.

midterm elections_311 (photo credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS)
midterm elections_311
(photo credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS)
WASHINGTON — Republicans captured Democratic governorships in at least 10 states on Tuesday, including some prime presidential battlegrounds, and hoped for even more statehouse gains.
Changing hands in the Republican wave were governorships now held by Democrats in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa, Tennessee, Kansas, Oklahoma, New Mexico and Wyoming.
In Ohio, a state viewed by both parties as crucial to the 2012 presidential election, former Rep. John Kasich defeated Gov. Ted Strickland. Republican Susana Martinez won the New Mexico governorship — she is the first Hispanic woman to become chief executive of a state — and will succeed Democratic Gov. Bill Richardson.
But there were a few bright spots for Democrats. In California, Democrat Jerry Brown coasted past former eBay CEO Meg Whitman to reclaim the post he held three decades ago. He will replace moderate Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Democrats picked up another Republican seat in Hawaii as former U.S. Rep Neil Abercrombie defeated Republican Lt. Gov. James "Duke" Aiona to succeed Republican Gov. Linda Lingle in the state where President Barack Obama was born. Lingle was term-limited.
Democrats also held onto governorships in New York, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Hampshire, Arkansas and Colorado.
New York Democrat Andrew Cuomo surged past ultraconservative tea party Republican Carl Paladino to win the governor's seat, the same post his father, Mario, had held two decades ago. "The people have spoken tonight, and they have been loud and clear," Cuomo said standing alongside his father and mother. "They are angry."
In Massachusetts, Democratic Gov. Deval Patrick won a second term, defeating Republican Charles Baker and two other candidates. Patrick and President Barack Obama share Chicago roots and Harvard Law degrees, and national Republicans tried hard to topple him.
Denver's Democratic mayor, John Hickenlooper, was elected Colorado governor despite a challenge from both Republican Dan Maes and immigration hard-liner Tom Tancredo, a former Republican House member. Hickenlooper succeeds Democratic Gov. Bill Ritter, who did not run for re-election.
In Democratic-leaning Pennsylvania, Republican Tom Corbett defeated Democrat Dan Onorato. Outgoing Pennsylvania Democratic Gov. Ed Rendell was term-limited.
Oklahoma and South Carolina elected their first female governors, both Republicans. In South Carolina, tea-party backed Republican state Rep. Nikki Haley will also become the nation's second Indian-American governor when she replaces term-limited Gov. Mark Sanford. Louisiana's Bobby Jindal also is Indian-American. She is the first American raised as a Sikh to hold the office of governor.
In a high-profile race into which both parties spent millions, Texas Republican Gov. Rick Perry, who has already served 10 years, defeated Democrat Bill White, a former mayor of Houston.
Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, who drew national attention when she signed a state law cracking down on illegal immigration, was re-elected, defeating Democratic Attorney General Terry Goddard.
Republican Sean Parnell, who replaced Sarah Palin after she stepped down Alaska governor in July 2009, was easily re-elected, defeating Democratic former state lawmaker Ethan Berkowitz.
The Republicans fought hard to increase its foothold in New England, traditionally Democratic turf but this year very much in play.
In Rhode Island, former Sen. Lincoln Chafee, a one-time Republican turned independent, won the governorship over Democrat Frank Caprio and Republican John Robitaille.
Nevada Republican Brian Sandoval, who is Hispanic, defeated Democrat Rory Reid — son of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who won his re-election race.
Some 37 governorships were on the line — a combination of the usual rotation plus races to fill unexpired terms and some states changing their election cycles.
In Florida, Republican-turned-independent Gov. Charlie Crist decided to run for the Senate, a contest he lost Tuesday.
In California, Democrat Brown, currently the attorney general, engaged in a fierce battle with Whitman. The billionaire poured more than $150 million of her own money into the campaign, making it the most expensive nonpresidential race in U.S. history.
There are currently 26 Democratic governors and 24 Republicans.