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Inside Politics

GOP, Democrats split hotly contested governorships

Washington's race still too close to call


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Craig Benson of New Hampshire was the only GOP governor to lose Tuesday.
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Gov: MO Updated: 5:33 p.m. ET
Blunt 51%
McCaskill 48%
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(CNN) -- New governors will take the helm in six states, with voting reflecting a party shift in four of them -- two for Democrats and two for Republicans.

Of the 11 gubernatorial races Tuesday, Democrats and the GOP each won five, and one remains too call.(Check the balance of power)

With 99 percent of precincts reporting, former GOP Washington state senator Dino Rossi and Attorney General Christine Gregoire are virtually tied. Each had 49 percent of the vote, and Gregoire trailed Rossi by about 1,100 votes, making the race to replace Democratic Gov. Gary Locke too close to call.

In New Hampshire and Montana, Democrats defeated their GOP challengers and will occupy offices held by Republicans. Indiana and Missouri Republican candidates beat their Democratic opponents and will wrest gubernatorial control from the other party.

New Hampshire incumbent Craig Benson was the only GOP governor to lose Tuesday. He fell 12,500 votes behind Democrat John Lynch after all precincts had reported.

The two men in their four debates clashed over taxes, a key issue in the famously anti-tax state. Benson proposed capping property taxes for the elderly poor, while Lynch proposed repealing the state's education property tax.

Montana Democrat Brian Schweitzer defeated Republican Bob Brown for that state's open governor's seat, becoming its first Democratic governor in 20 years. He surprised many Montana Democrats by selecting Republican state Sen. John Bohlinger as his running mate in an effort to end the partisanship that he said divided the state legislature.

Former Bush White House budget director Mitch Daniels beat Democrat incumbent Joseph Kernan for Indiana's governor's seat. Bush had personally weighed in on that race, campaigning for Daniels and referring to him as "My man Mitch."

Democrats have resided in the Indiana governor's mansion for the past 16 years. Daniels ran on a "time for a change" message.

Voters in Missouri elected GOP Secretary of State Matt Blunt over Claire McCaskill. McCaskill, a state auditor, had ousted embattled Gov. Bob Holden in the Democratic primary, marking the first time in the past decade that an incumbent governor lost in a primary.

Blunt, 33, is the son of U.S. Rep. Roy Blunt, the House Republican whip. He will be the second-youngest Missourian to be elected governor, but deflected McCaskill's questions regarding his experience by pointing to Kit Bond, who was 32 when elected in 1972 and turned out to be one of the state's most effective governors. Bond is now a U.S. senator.

In other states:

  • Republican Jon Huntsman, a former ambassador and family business heir, won 57 percent of the vote to claim the Utah governor's office over Scott Matheson.
  • In West Virginia, Secretary of State Joe Manchin defeated GOP real estate developer Monty Warner and maintained Democratic control of the office. Gov. Bob Wise, a Democrat, decided not to seek re-election after admitting an extramarital affair with a state employee and left the seat open.
  • In Delaware, Democratic incumbent Ruth Ann Minner defeated challenger Bill Lee, a former state Supreme Court justice.
  • Incumbent Democrat Mike Easley won re-election in North Carolina, defeating Republican state party leader Patrick Ballantine.
  • In North Dakota, GOP incumbent John Hoeven defeated former state Senator Joe Satrom with 71 percent of the vote.
  • Vermont voters re-elected Republican incumbent Jim Douglas, who defeated Burlington mayor Pete Clavelle.

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