OOIDA ELECTION REPORT Governorships see little change in party control

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | 11/5/2014

Voters on Tuesday selected governors in 36 states with Republicans adding at least one seat. The governors will have a far-reaching effect on government, including transportation funding for the foreseeable future.

Before Election Day, Republicans held a 29-21 edge among governors nationally. The GOP has held the majority of seats since 2010.

Republicans this week increased their lead in gubernatorial seats, claiming a 31-17 margin with two races still undecided.

The governorships held by Republicans are the most by the party since 1920.

Of the 36 states voting for governor, five races were open seats from both parties, thanks to terms limits and incumbents choosing not to run for re-election.

Sitting Democratic governors in California, Colorado, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New York and Oregon retained their offices. Incumbent Republican governors in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Wisconsin and Wyoming were also victorious.

Governors who lost their seat are Pat Quinn in Illinois and Tom Corbett in Pennsylvania.

Illinois Gov.-elect Bruce Rauner addressed the Illiana Expressway project along the campaign trail. In 2010, Gov. Quinn signed legislation permitting the state to partner with private groups to develop, build and manage the proposed 50-mile toll road linking northeast Illinois and Indiana.

Rauner, a Republican, referred to the project as “an important economic development engine” for Will County and the surrounding area. However, he emphasized the importance of making sure any potential public-private partnership “doesn’t leave the taxpayers holding the bag.”

Pennsylvania Gov.-elect Tom Wolf criticized Corbett for signing off on tax and fee increases to support a $2.4 billion transportation spending plan approved one year ago.

Wolf, a Democrat, said that infrastructure is one of the main issues his administration would address.

It appears that Connecticut Gov. Dan Malloy, a Democrat, has held off Republican challenger Tom Foley by a very slim margin. In Alaska, the race between Republican Gov. Sean Parnell and Independent candidate Bill Walker remains too close to call.

Republicans wrested open seats held by Democrats in Arkansas, Maryland and Massachusetts.

New Republican governors elected in Arizona, Nebraska and Texas held their party’s seat. Hawaii and Rhode Island were retained by Democrats.

The Vermont governor’s race remains undecided. Democratic Gov. Peter Shumlin and Republican Scott Milne were locked in a tight battle. Because neither candidate secured at least 50 percent of the public vote, the Democrat-dominated state Legislature will choose a winner after the first of the year.

With this year’s elections concluded, both parties turn their attention to 2016. At that time, nine states will elect governors. Of those, two Democratic governors are term limited and are not eligible to seek re-election.

In seven states, four Republicans and three Democrats can pursue another term.

For more 2014 election coverage from Land Line, click here.

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