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Democrats win governor races in Ohio, Mass.

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  • Greg Cannon
    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20061108/ap_on_el_gu/eln_governors Patrick wins in Mass.; Strickland Ohio By ROBERT TANNER, AP National Writer 11 minutes ago
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 7, 2006
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      http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20061108/ap_on_el_gu/eln_governors

      Patrick wins in Mass.; Strickland Ohio

      By ROBERT TANNER, AP National Writer 11 minutes ago

      Democrats took back the governorships Tuesday in Ohio
      and Massachusetts as elections for the top office in
      36 states promised the biggest shakeup of state
      governments in years.

      Massachusetts Democrat Deval Patrick was declared the
      winner in his state — he will be the first black
      governor of the state and the second elected black
      governor of any state. In Ohio, Democratic Rep. Ted
      Strickland (news, bio, voting record) easily defeated
      Republican Ken Blackwell. Neither state had elected a
      Democrat since the 1980s.

      The victories declared there and several other states
      were based on a statistical analysis of the vote based
      on voter interviews conducted for The Associated Press
      by Edison Media Research and Mitofsky International.

      With 10 new governors guaranteed to come out of
      Tuesday's elections, state governments were bound for
      big changes. Those could be even more tumultuous if
      Democrats manage to reverse years of Republican
      dominance.

      In Illinois, Democratic Gov. Rod Blagojevich won
      re-election in a contest that Republicans had at one
      time hoped would go their way. Elsewhere, Republican
      Gov. Jodi Rell in Connecticut won re-election, as did
      Democratic Govs. Ed Rendell in Pennsylvania, Phil
      Bredesen in Tennessee and John Lynch in New Hampshire.

      In the competitive race in Florida to replace
      term-limited GOP Gov. Jeb Bush, Republican Charlie
      Crist, the state attorney general, was leading
      Democratic Rep. Jim Davis (news, bio, voting record)
      60 percent to 38 percent, with 8 percent of precincts
      reporting.

      Also, very early returns showed sitting Republican
      governors in Georgia and South Carolina ahead. Neither
      of those races was closely contested.

      Ten states had open seats because of retirements, term
      limits and primary defeat. Five other states were so
      competitive that incumbent governors were fighting
      hard to avoid being unseated.

      The biggest names were in some of the least
      competitive races.

      Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger of California
      was safely ahead in pre-election surveys, while
      Democrat Eliot Spitzer — an attorney general famous
      for pushing for Wall Street and corporate reform — was
      far ahead in New York. GOP Gov. Rick Perry of Texas
      was a favorite to beat back a Democrat challenger and
      two independents, including musician and comic Kinky
      Friedman.

      The Democrats were hoping to reverse the Republican
      majority among governorships that the GOP has held
      ever since the landslide of 1994.

      "We're getting help with discontent with the
      Iraq war and we're getting help from Washington
      gridlock," said New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, head
      of the Democratic Governors Association. "It's helping
      elect Democratic governors."

      Republicans went into Election Day holding 28
      governorships to 22 for the Democrats. The GOP began
      the year trying to hold eight open seats, while
      Democrats had only one. Republicans also saw another
      seat come open when Alaska Gov. Frank Murkowski lost
      his primary.

      The contests for those open seats were some of the
      closest, including:

      • Nevada, where GOP Rep. Jim Gibbons was hobbled by
      accusations he assaulted and propositioned a cocktail
      waitress. He faced Democrat Dina Titus, a state
      senator. They were seeking to replace term-limited GOP
      Gov. Kenny Guinn.

      • Iowa, where Democrat Chet Culver, the secretary of
      state, and GOP Rep. Jim Nussle (news, bio, voting
      record) fought for the seat left by retiring
      Democratic Gov. Tom Vilsack, who is exploring a
      possible presidential run.

      Governors most at risk included Republicans Tim
      Pawlenty in Minnesota and Robert Ehrlich in Maryland.
      Also in close contests, though the latest surveys
      showed them slightly ahead, were Democrats Jim Doyle
      in Wisconsin, Jennifer Granholm in Michigan and Ted
      Kulongoski in Oregon.

      And a few states that strategists expected to stay
      safely Republican wound up competitive.

      In Alaska, Republican Sarah Palin unseated unpopular
      Gov. Murkowski in the GOP primary and faced Democratic
      former Gov. Tony Knowles. In Idaho, GOP Rep. C.L.
      "Butch" Otter was in a close contest with Democrat
      Jerry Brady, a former newspaper publisher.

      The contests could break the record for women
      governors. Eight women governors now hold office, one
      fewer than the record. Four women were in the running
      as major-party candidates.

      Though the parties pour in money to win a majority of
      gubernatorial races, governors can't enact national
      policy. Still, they can strengthen a party's grass
      roots, turn out votes for presidential contests, and
      cultivate future national leaders. Their decisions
      shape policy on health care, taxes and other domestic
      issues, and often touch citizens more directly than Washington.
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