By Michael D. Hernandez
Republicans strengthened their grip on the nation’s governorships Tuesday, extending their executive control to at least 32 states.
Democrats had 21 governorships going into the general election but the Republican tide that shifted dominion in the U.S. Senate also delivered the GOP key gubernatorial victories in traditional Democratic strongholds such as Illinois, Maryland and Massachusetts. Republican Asa Hutchinson’s victory also brought Arkansas into his party’s column.
Tuesday’s election also saw GOP candidates who were perceived vulnerable fend off Democratic challenges in Florida, where Governor Rick Scott defeated former governor Charlie Crist, and in Wisconsin, as Governor Scott Walker pulled away from Mary Burke.
Two other Republicans, Kansas Governor Sam Brownback and Maine Governor Paul LePage, also won re-election in races some experts thought could fall to their respective Democratic challengers.
It took well into Wednesday morning for Colorado Democrat John Hickenlooper, previously thought of as a potential presidential candidate, to be declared successful in his re-election bid. Many elections experts consider Colorado a bellwether state.
Close results left Alaska’s gubernatorial race unresolved with Independent candidate Bill Walker leading Republican Sean Walker by a slim margin.
Vermont’s outcome was headed to a decision by its General Assembly as both Democrat Peter Shumlin and Republican Scott Milne failed to win a majority of the vote. The state’s Constitution puts the election in the hands of the legislature when a statewide election does not produce a majority winner. The Democratic General Assembly will, in all likelihood, choose Shumlin.
The lone pickup for Democrats in Tuesday’s gubernatorial races came in Pennsylvania where Tom Wolf defeated incumbent Tom Corbett.
Michael D. Hernandez is an NCSL elections policy specialist. Follow him on Twitter: @michaeldhernand