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Inside Politics

Majority of states have Democratic governor

Story Highlights

• NEW: 28 Democratic governors; 20 GOP; R.I., Minnesota undecided
• NEW: Deval Patrick to be second elected black governor since Reconstruction
• Democrat Eliot Spitzer to succeed N.Y. Gov. George Pataki
• GOP's Arnold Schwarzenegger wins re-election in California
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(CNN) -- Six governorships switched from Republican to Democratic in Tuesday's election, giving Democrats control of a majority of top state posts for the first time in 12 years.

Democrats now control 28 governorships and the Republicans control 20. Rhode Island and Minnesota have yet to be called.

In addition to the six pickups, Democrats retained 14 governorships while Republicans retained 14.

In Massachusetts, former Clinton Justice Department official Deval Patrick became the state's first African-American governor and only the second elected nationally since Reconstruction.

  • State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer will succeed retiring GOP Gov. George Pataki in New York.
  • Rep. Ted Strickland won in Ohio, defeating Secretary of State Ken Blackwell.
  • Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley defeated Maryland's Republican incumbent Gov. Robert Ehrlich.
  • In Arkansas, GOP Gov. Mike Huckabee is term-limited; Democrat Mike Beebe will be the next state leader, winning over Republican Asa Hutchinson, a former congressman and undersecretary in the Department of Homeland Security.
  • Denver District Attorney Bill Ritter replaced Colorado GOP Gov. Bill Owens, who is term limited.
  • Democrats held onto governorships in Arizona, Illinois, Kansas, Michigan, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Tennessee and Wyoming. (A complete rundown of the governors' races)

    Republicans retained governor's offices in Alabama, California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Nebraska, South Carolina and Texas. (Watch South Carolina governor's election day goof -- 2:09)

    While most of the Republican incumbents running Tuesday were expected to win re-election, a wave of retirements left the GOP with the task of defending nine open seats, where most of their losses were expected.

    Democrats only had to defend one open seat, in Iowa, where Democratic Secretary of State Chet Culver beat Republican U.S. Rep. Jim Nussle.

    Unlike controlling the House or Senate, having a majority of governorships has little practical effect, because governors operate independently of each other. However, a switch gives Democrats bragging rights and access to state political organizations that could be helpful in the 2008 presidential election.

    The silver-lining came for Republicans when, despite the Golden State's Democratic leanings, actor-turned-politician Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger won re-election against Democratic challenger, state Treasurer Phil Angelides.

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    New York's Democratic governor-to-be Eliot Spitzer celebrates with Sen. Hillary Clinton.

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