A Look At Governors' Races Across The Country
ROBERT SIEGEL, host: Some late election results have come through in governors races. Democrat Pat Quinn has won the governorship in Illinois and Peter Shumlin, also a Democrat, is the victor in Vermont. In two other races, Minnesota and Connecticut, the outcome remains too close to call.
Still, Republicans had some big wins. They picked up at least 11 governors seats, seats that had been held by Democrats.
As NPR's Brian Naylor reports, those Republican gains could make President Obama's path to re-election more difficult.
BRIAN NAYLOR: President Obama was a frequent visitor to Ohio this campaign season. His trips to the Buckeye State were mostly to assist Democratic candidates, including Governor Ted Strickland's re-election bid.
But while the President clearly wanted another term for Strickland, his motives weren't entirely altruistic.
Mr. MARK SCHRIMPF (Republican Governors Association): When you have a governor, it makes it much easier to build local infrastructure and strengthen your state party.
NAYLOR: That's Mark Schrimpf of the Republican Governors Association. Schrimpf's candidate in Ohio, former republican Congressman John Kasich, defeated Strickland Tuesday, meaning whoever the GOP presidential nominee is in two years will have the benefit of the sitting governor and his political organization in Ohio.
The same holds true for other key battleground states, like Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin, all of whose Democratic governors will be replaced by Republicans.
Nathan Daschle, director of the Democratic Governors Association, concedes that having the governorship helps a presidential candidate in that state, but he says things could have been worse for Democrats and the president.
Mr. NATHAN DASCHLE (Director, Democratic Governors Association): I think it's fair to say that President Obama's re-election prospects would have been better had we won Ohio and Florida. That was an argument that we were making all this year. It's only fair for us to concede that point now.
But we didn't get blown out in the Midwest region, as a number of pundits had predicted. We did not lose all these governorships, as Republicans said we would.
NAYLOR: Democrats note they took some governors races from Republicans too, including California and Hawaii, and they lead in other states too close to call.
The RGA spent $102 million on this year's gubernatorial races, twice what the DGA spent. Aside from party-building, Republican statehouse gains give them an edge over Democrats when it comes to the upcoming redrawing of congressional districts. This will be especially rewarding for Republicans and painful for Democrats in states like Ohio, Michigan and Pennsylvania, which are each expected to lose seats. It means Republicans will be able to determine which districts go.
Mark Schrimpf says Republican candidates for governor benefited in this election from a rare alignment of issues that worked to their and congressional candidates' favor.
Mr. SCHRIMPF: Being able to have all our candidates up and down the ballot, you know, talk about the same message, holding the line on spending and holding the line on taxes, definitely was beneficial to our candidates.
NAYLOR: Republicans also point to the diversity of their new governors, including an Indian-American woman in South Carolinas Nikki Haley and New Mexico's Susana Martinez, the first female Hispanic governor of either party.
Brian Naylor, NPR News, Washington.
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