• U.S.

Few Changes in the Nation’s Statehouses

2 minute read

WHILE AMERICANS VOTED DECISIVELY FOR CHANGE IN the White House, they rejected it in the Governors’ mansions. Neither women nor candidates who challenged incumbents could claim a single victory. Even so, the Democrats increased their governorships from 28 to 30, while the Republican total dropped from 20 to 18 (two Governors are independents).

A pro-incumbent mood kept Democrats in power in Indiana, Vermont, West Virginia and Rhode Island. In staunchly Republican Indiana, Democrat Evan Bayh, 36, remained America’s youngest Governor, winning nearly two-thirds of the vote. Former North Carolina Governor Jim Hunt returned to power, riding plans for crime fighting and economic development to a resounding victory.

While women made breakthroughs in national races, all three who entered gubernatorial contests bumped up against glass ceilings. In New Hampshire, Democrat Deborah (“Arnie”) Arnesen lost to former attorney general Steve Merrill after she called for a 6% income tax in a state that has never taxed income. In Rhode Island, Governor Bruce Sundlun trounced Republican Elizabeth Leonard, a car dealer making her first run for office. And Democrat Dorothy Bradley, a Montana state legislator, narrowly lost to attorney general Marc Racicot.

The victors can hardly rest easy, though. Many Governors must now balance budgets in deficit-ridden states where people want no new taxes.

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