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Nov 9, 2016 12:51 AM

Republicans win control of Missouri, Vermont governorships

The Associated Press

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Republicans won control of governors' offices in Missouri and Vermont on Tuesday, picking up a pair of previously Democratic seats in their quest to expand their statehouse leadership to their strongest levels in decades.

The governors' contests in a dozen states were part of a battle for statehouse supremacy that also included nearly 6,000 state legislative elections. Heading into Tuesday, Republicans controlled more than two-thirds of the nation's legislative chambers, as well as 31 of the 50 governors' offices.

They were inching toward their historical high of 34 governorships sent in 1922.

In a key legislative battle, Republicans also won control of the Kentucky House — the lone remaining Democratic-held chamber in the South — for the first time in nearly a century while defeating Democratic House Speaker Greg Stumbo.

The states in play Tuesday include:



Former Navy SEAL officer Eric Greitens defeated Democratic Attorney General Chris Koster in the state's costliest-ever gubernatorial race. He will succeed term-limited Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon to become just the second Republican governor in the past 24 years.

Greitens capitalized on his military service and his work as founder of the veterans' charity known as The Mission Continues. He cast himself as an outsider going up against a career politician. Koster, a former Republican state senator, had picked up key endorsements from the National Rifle Association and major agricultural groups.

Including primary candidates, Missouri governors' campaigns raised more than $72 million, easily doubling the previous record.



Republican Lt. Gov. Phil Scott defeated Democrat Sue Minter to take over the office held by Democratic Gov. Peter Shumlin, who chose not to run for another two-year term.

Scott is currently the only Republican statewide officeholder in a liberal-leaning state but has tacked to the left by embracing abortion rights and gay marriage and pledged to make government more efficient. Minter was a former transportation secretary for Shumlin.



In one of the nation's highest-profile races, Republican Gov. Pat McCrory was locked in a close race against Democratic Attorney General Roy Cooper.

The race has become a referendum on North Carolina's rightward shift under McCrory, highlighted by a law that limits anti-discrimination protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and directs transgender people to use public restrooms matching the gender on their birth certificates. Cooper has vowed to try to repeal the law as governor.

Recent flooding from Hurricane Matthew has also played into the race, as McCrory has been at the public forefront of response and recovery efforts.



Lt. Gov. Eric Holcomb won election over Democrat John Gregg to continue a 12-year run of Republican governors in Indiana. Holcomb, a former state Republican Party chairman, had had been appointed to the state's No. 2 spot by Gov. Mike Pence and later was nominated as his replacement when Pence dropped his re-election bid in July to run for vice president.

Gregg had tried to cast Holcomb as a "rubber stamp" for Pence, pointing out Holcomb's support for a religious-objections law that Pence signed. Opponents said the law, which was later revised, sanctioned discrimination against same-sex couples by allowing businesses to refuse to serve them.



Jim Justice's victory will continue a 16-year stint of Democratic governors in a state that has otherwise been tilting toward Republicans. Justice, the state's wealthiest resident, cast himself as a political outsider adept at creating jobs.

Republican candidate Bill Cole, the state Senate president, had hoped to ride Trump's coattails. But Cole's pledge to revive the coal industry was offset by Justice, himself a coal billionaire.

Justice will succeed term-limited Democratic Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin.



Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan's decision to challenge Republican U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte created a close race to succeed her.

It featured two members of the governor's Executive Council — Democrat Colin Van Ostern and Republican Chris Sununu, the son of former Gov. John H. Sununu and the brother of former U.S. Sen. John E. Sununu.

Democrats have controlled the governor's office for 18 of the past 20 years.



Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock was facing a challenge from Republican Greg Gianforte, a computer software firm founder who poured millions of his own money into the race. Gianforte aired more TV ads than all other statewide executive candidates in the nation, according to an analysis by the Center for Public Integrity of data from the tracking firm Kantar Media/CMAG.

Bullock was heavily aided by the Democratic Governors Association.



In Delaware, Democratic U.S. Rep. John Carney Jr. was elected to succeed term-limited Democratic Gov. Jack Markell. And in North Dakota, Republican businessman Doug Burgum won election to replace Republican Gov. Jack Dalrymple, who did not seek re-election. Republican Gov. Gary Herbert won re-election in Utah, and Democratic Govs. Kate Brown of Oregon and Jay Inslee of Washington also turned back challengers.


Follow David A. Lieb at: http://twitter.com/DavidALieb .

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 Friday, 11:30 a.m. - President Donald Trump signs the Department of Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act of 2017

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