Voters Choose Governors In North Carolina, 10 Other States

NEW YORK (AP) -- Voters in 11 states were choosing governors Tuesday, deciding close contests in North Carolina and Washington as Republicans tried to chip away at the Democrats' slim majority of gubernatorial seats.

Democrats, with a 28-22 edge in state capitals nationwide, seemed likely to pick up an open seat in Missouri.

Tuesday's races were a prelude to 2010, when four of every five states will elect governors who will help preside over the redrawing of legislative and congressional districts.

The campaigns in North Carolina and Washington offered hints of the battle to come, as the national Republican and Democratic governors' associations spent about $4 million on each of their candidates in each of the two states. Both groups have reported record fundraising this year as part of a four-year plan that will culminate in 2010.

In Washington state, Democratic Gov. Chris Gregoire and GOP challenger Dino Rossi, a former state senator, restaged their 2004 contest that Gregoire won by 133 votes after two recounts and a lawsuit.

Results may not be clear until later in the week because of mail-in votes that could postmarked as late as midnight on Election Day.

The outcome could be delayed even longer in Vermont. The Republican incumbent, Gov. Jim Douglas, was leading in the polls but had less than 50 percent of the vote in the most recent surveys of his three-way race with Democratic House Speaker Gaye Symington and independent Anthony Pollina.

If no one gets 50 percent, the election goes to the state Legislature, which doesn't convene until January.

In North Carolina, a state that typically elects Democratic governors, Republican Pat McCrory, the mayor of Charlotte for 13 years, was in a dead heat with Democratic Lt. Gov. Beverly Perdue. The winner replaces a Democrat, Gov. Mike Easley, who is stepping down because of term limits.

Perdue, seeking to become North Carolina's first woman governor, pitched her reputation as a problem solver after years in state government. In a twist on the national Democrats' change message, McCrory painted Perdue as a status quo candidate.

The results could hinge on how many newly registered Democrats and black voters casting ballots for Barack Obama also vote for Perdue.

Polls in Missouri gave Democratic Attorney General Jay Nixon a strong lead over U.S. Rep. Kenny Hulshof, who once worked for Nixon in the attorney general's office. The winner will replace Republican Gov. Matt Blunt, who did not seek re-election.

In Indiana, Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels had a comfortable lead in the polls over Democratic challenger Jill Long Thompson, a former congresswoman.

Daniels, President Reagan's chief policy adviser and President George W. Bush's budget director, said Indiana has weathered bad economic times better than other states. Long Thompson was hoping to ride a strong turnout expected for Obama, who was in a close contest with John McCain to win Indiana.

In the race for an open seat in Delaware, Democrat Lee Markell, the state treasurer, was expected to easily defeat Republican Bill Lee, a former judge. Term limits prohibited Gov. Ruth Ann Minner from running again.

Among incumbents, Democrats Joe Manchin of West Virginia, John Lynch of New Hampshire and Brian Schweitzer of Montana were expected to win re-election, as were Republicans Jon Huntsman Jr. of Utah and John Hoeven of North Dakota.


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