State elections set stage for coming years

By Keith Goble, state legislative editor

Voters across the country cast their ballots in November for more than 80 percent of the elected officials who make up federal and state government, as well as many local offices.

Understandably, many headlines in the national media focused on the presidential election. However, voters made many other significant choices when they cast ballots in their home states.

Although federal rules govern much of the trucking industry, the power of the states has a major impact on owner-operators’ daily lives in terms of tolling, truck rules, and taxes and fees.

More GOP governorships

Election Day saw 12 states select governors. The chief executives have a far-reaching effect on government, including transportation funding for the foreseeable future.

Before Election Day, Republicans held a 31-18 edge among governors nationally. Afterward, the GOP claimed a margin of 33-15 with one race still undecided.

Of the dozen states voting for governor, seven races were open seats from both parties, thanks to term limits and incumbents choosing not to run for re-election.

Sitting Democratic governors in Montana, Oregon and Washington retained their offices. Utah Incumbent Republican Gov. Gary Herbert was also victorious.

At press time, the race in North Carolina between Republican Gov. Pat McCrory and Democratic candidate Roy Cooper remained too close to call.

Roy Cooper has talked about renewing and replacing the state’s aging roads and bridges, and other infrastructure. Along the campaign trail he also called for continuing to ensure transparency in the transportation planning process in order to prioritize projects with the greatest need. In addition, he supports alternative forms of transportation.

Republicans wrested open seats held by Democrats in Missouri, New Hampshire and Vermont.

Missouri Gov.-elect Eric Greitens has said he wants to commission a study of the state’s transportation funding. The state has been unsuccessful in recent years coming up with a funding plan to address dwindling revenues for road and bridge work. Greitens has suggested a new bonding bill.

New Republican governors elected in Indiana and North Dakota held on to their party’s seat. Delaware and West Virginia were retained by Democrats.

In Indiana, Gov.-elect Eric Holcomb has said he would build a fourth port on the Ohio River. He also wants to add a bridge over the river in Evansville.

With this year’s elections concluded, both parties turn their attention to 2018. At that time, 36 states will elect governors. Of those, 14 Republican governors and two Democratic governors are term limited and are not eligible to seek re-election.

In 20 states, 12 Republicans and seven Democrats can pursue another term. Alaska Gov. Bill Walker, an independent, can also seek another four years in office.