Nov/Dec 2009

State News: August 2009



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GOP Picks up Two Governor’s Seats

By Heather Perkins, CSG Membership Data Manager
Republicans won the two governor’s races on Tuesday’s ballot, both in states won by Democrat Barack Obama in last year’s presidential race.
Former Virginia Attorney General Bob McDonnell defeated Democratic state Sen. Creigh Deeds by double digits—59 percent to 41 percent—to reclaim the Virginia governor’s office for Republicans.
In New Jersey, incumbent Democrat Jon Corzine lost the governor’s office to Republican Chris Christie 49 percent to 45 percent. Christie is a former U.S. attorney for the District of New Jersey. Christie’s running mate, Monmouth County Sheriff Kim Guadagno, will now become New Jersey’s first lieutenant governor.
With the losses, the Democrats advantage in governor’s offices has been reduced to 26 compared with 24 Republicans.
It was a clean sweep for Republicans in Virginia, where the GOP won all three executive races on the ballot.
In addition to McDonnell’s gubernatorial victory, GOP Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling easily won re-election over former Secretary of Finance Jody Wagner, 56 percent to 44 percent; and Republican state Sen. Ken Cuccinelli defeated Delegate Steve Shannon for attorney general 58 percent to 42 percent.
Republicans strengthened their hold on the House of Delegates by picking up a number of seats. In at least six races, Democratic incumbents lost to Republican challengers. That number could increase to seven depending on the outcome of the 21st district race, which is too close to call. The Virginia State Board of Elections currently has Republican challenger Ron Villanueva ahead of the Democratic incumbent Bobby Mathieson by 16 votes—a close vote that will likely result in a recount.
Democrats in Virginia’s legislature picked up only two seats previously held by Republicans. One incumbent, Delegate Phil Hamilton was defeated by Democratic challenger Robin Abbott. The other GOP seat was a district in which the incumbent was not running for re-election.
Before the election, the Virginia House party breakdown was 53 Republican, 43 Democrats, two incumbents and two vacancies. Election results have shifted the numbers to 58 Republican, 39 Democrats, two incumbents and one undecided race.
In the New Jersey General Assembly, Democrats maintained their control with no real surprises. No incumbents were defeated in this year’s races. The Republicans picked up one previously held Democratic seat—the 4th Assembly district with no incumbent on the ballot. Democrats held a 48 to 32 advantage over Republicans before the election. That shifted to a 47 to 33 advantage after the vote.
Voters in several other states cast ballots on initiatives Tuesday.
In Maine, voters by a 57 percent to 47 percent margin threw out a same-sex marriage law passed by the legislature in May. Votes were still being counted in Washington, but supporters of gay rights were optimistic that a measure to expand the state’s domestic-partnership law would pass, according to The Seattle Times.
Maine voters also soundly rejected a proposal to limit the growth of taxes and government spending by state and local governments. The proposal, which lost by a 60 percent to 40 percent margin, was modeled after Colorado’s controversial Taxpayer Bill of Rights and would have limited the growth of government spending to the rate of inflation plus the growth rate of population, according to the Initiative and Referendum Institute.
A similar proposal was also rejected by Washington voters. The proposal, which lost by a 55 percent to 45 percent tally, would have limited the growth of state and local government spending to the rate of inflation plus population growth and required voter approval for tax increases, according to the Initiative and Referendum Institute.
Voters in Ohio handily approved a constitutional amendment to allow casinos in the state’s four largest cities—Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus and Toledo. Supporters had promoted the casino approval to job growth. It was the fifth try for the gambling initiative in the last two decades, according to



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