Democrats claim majority of gubernatorial suites

| 11/8/2006

Democrats claimed the majority of the governors' offices Tuesday, Nov. 7. Numerous outcomes in the 36 gubernatorial races are of particular interest to those in the trucking industry.

Victories in Arkansas, Colorado, Massachusetts, New York and Ohio, as well as an apparent win in Maryland, means Democrats control the top political office in 28 states. Republicans went into Election Day holding a 28-22 margin in gubernatorial suites but Democrats were able to wrest away six of those offices.

The day's gains give Democrats a majority of the governor's seats for the first time in 12 years.

Pollsters said the unusually high turnout of voters during the typically subdued midterm elections where the entire U.S. House and one-third of the U.S. Senate seats were on ballots was largely spurred by the contentious and bitter race for governorships.

There were 10 open governors' seats on Election Day due to retirements, term limits or primary defeats of incumbents. Nine of those offices had been held by Republicans and one was held by a Democrat. The only states where the GOP held onto the governor's mansion were Alaska, Florida, Idaho and Nevada.

Democratic governors in Arizona, Illinois, Kansas, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Wyoming appear to have retained their offices. Incumbent Republican governors in Alabama, California, Connecticut, Georgia, Hawaii, Nebraska, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas and Vermont also were victorious.

Notable governor's races for the trucking industry included:

  • Illinois - Democratic Gov. Rod Blagojevich defeated Republican Judy Baar Topinka, the state treasurer. During Blagojevich's tenure he has twice vetoed efforts to eliminate the state's split speed limit and dramatically increased numerous truck-related fees.
  • Ohio - U.S. Rep. Ted Strickland, a Democrat, defeated Ohio Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell, a Republican. Strickland said during his campaign that he is opposed to leasing the Ohio Turnpike to private interests. Blackwell said he would seek a lease of the toll route.
  • Pennsylvania - Democratic Gov. Ed Rendell topped GOP candidate Lynn Swann, a Hall of Fame football player. Rendell has raided highway user revenue for transit. His administration also has talked with private investors on topics that include the possible lease of the Pennsylvania Turnpike. Swann had also expressed an interest in public-private partnerships.
  • Texas - Republican Gov. Rick Perry won re-election over a quartet of challengers including U.S. Rep. Chris Bell, a Democrat. Perry created the Trans-Texas Corridor plan that calls for private contractors to build and operate billions of dollars of toll roads in the state.

- By Keith Goble, state legislative editor