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Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Nikki Haley Makes Tea Party History! 1st Female S.C. Governor

GOP Picks Up 10 Governorships From Democrats

Republicans appear to have regained the majority of U.S. governorships, capturing 10 in states where the previous executives were Democrats, according to CNN projections of exit poll data.

But Democrats scored two takeaways Tuesday night, including in California, where CNN projected that Jerry Brown will defeat Republican Meg Whitman for the governorship now held by Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger, who is stepping down under term limits. The other takeaway state was Hawaii.

GOP women made major inroads, as New Mexico's Susana Martinez, South Carolina's Nikki Haley and Oklahoma's Mary Fallin all defeated their Democratic opponents.

A widely publicized battle in New York ended with a projected Democratic victory as state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo slid past Republican favorite Carl Paladino, according to CNN analysis of exit poll data.

Son of former Gov. Mario Cuomo, the younger Cuomo squared off against Paladino, a businessman and developer, after the Tea Party-endorsed candidate scored an upset victory over former Rep. Rick Lazio in the GOP primary.

Cuomo added to Democratic wins in New Hampshire, Maryland and Arkansas, according to the projections.

But governorships in Kansas, Oklahoma, Tennessee, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Wyoming, Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio and Iowa all have gone from Democrat to GOP, according to CNN analysis of exit poll data. As of late Tuesday night, no Democrat had won a governorship in a state with a previously Republican governor.

Republicans, however, lost Rhode Island. But Democrats didn't win it either. Independent Lincoln Chafee, a former Republican, was projected by CNN to defeat Republican John Robitaille and Democrat Frank Caprio for the governorship, which had been vacated by GOP Gov. Don Carcieri because of term limits.

Chafee becomes Rhode Island's first governor who is neither a Republican nor a Democrat since 1857.

Often overshadowed during midterm campaigns, governorships can affect national politics by their influence in the redistricting of state electorates.

Republicans needed a net gain of three governorships Tuesday for a majority nationally. If the eight-state pickup margin holds, the GOP will have gained a national gubernatorial majority plus five.

Tennessee became the first Republican pickup Tuesday evening when Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam edged past Democrat Mike McWherter.

Haslam will succeed Gov. Phil Bredesen, a Democrat who was precluded from running again by term limits.

In Michigan, Republican Rick Snyder defeated Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero, a Democrat.

In Pennsylvania, CNN projected Tom Corbett, who had an 8-percentage-point lead with 84 percent of precincts reporting, as the winner over Democrat Dan Onorato.

In Wisconsin, Republican Scott Walker was CNN's projected winner over Democrat Tom Barrett.

In Kansas, Sam Brownback won easily over Democrat Tom Holland.

In Wyoming, Republican Matt Mead was the projected winner over Leslie Petersen.

In Oklahoma, Fallin defeated another woman, Democrat Jari Askins.

In Ohio, Republican John Kasich, a former congressman-turned-pundit, defeated Democratic incumbent Ted Strickland, who was seeking a second term.

In Iowa, former Republican Gov. Terry Branstad, who had the job in 1980s and 1990s, defeated Gov. Chet Culver, a Democrat.

And in New Mexico, also a contest between female candidates, Martinez defeated Diane Denish in a race to replace Democratic Gov. Bill Richardson.

Addressing her cheering supporters Tuesday night, Martinez hit repeatedly on one theme: "You were the ones telling me how desperately we needed to move New Mexico in a new direction," she said. "At the end of the day, New Mexico chose a new direction."

In South Carolina, Haley became the state's first female governor by defeating Democratic opponent Vincent Sheheen in a tightly contested race.

Haley, a 38-year-old state representative, is supported by former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and Tea Party activists, and has promised to tackle unemployment and excess government spending by way of a 10-year plan.

During a bitter campaign run-up, Sheheen hammered Haley on reports of late tax payments while campaigning on the scandal surrounding the former governor.

The governor's race in South Carolina had earned a prominent stage among a series of high-profile gubernatorial elections that some analysts speculate could be a bellwether for future presidential politics.

Nevada, Arizona, Alaska, Georgia, Idaho, Utah, Texas, Nebraska, South Dakota, Alabama and South Carolina returned Republicans to their governor's mansions; Colorado, Arkansas, New Hampshire, New York, Massachusetts and Maryland did likewise for Democrats.

In Texas, Gov. Rick Perry defeated Democrat Bill White, and Democratic incumbents held on to governorships in Arkansas and New Hampshire, based on projections.

In New Hampshire, incumbent John Lynch bested Republican challenger John Stephens, while in Arkansas, Democrat Mike Beebe has defeated GOP nominee Jim Keet.

Democratic incumbents also held on in Massachusetts, where Gov. Deval Patrick was projected to defeat Republican Charlie Baker, and in Maryland, where Gov. Martin O'Malley was projected to prevail over Bob Ehrlich.

In Baltimore, O'Malley thanked state employees and campaign workers, pledging to "move Maryland forward" by creating jobs and in what he described as a "new economy."

In South Dakota, Republican Lt. Gov. Dennis Daugaard edged past Democrat Scott Heidepriem.

In Georgia, former U.S. Rep. Nathan Deal, the Republican candidate, defeated former Gov. Roy Barnes, according to a CNN projection based on exit poll data.

Deal narrowly defeated Tea Party favorite and former Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel for the state's Republican nomination.

The national spotlight turned on the Georgia race when national GOP heavyweights Palin and Mitt Romney endorsed Handel, while Mike Huckabee and Newt Gingrich backed Deal.

In Vermont, GOP Lt. Gov. Brian Dubie was up against Democratic challenger Peter Shumlin.

Dubie ran uncontested in the GOP primary, while Shumlin, a state senator, couldn't declare victory in his crowded primary until a recount was certified almost three weeks after the voting.

According to Vermont law, if no gubernatorial candidate wins a majority of the vote on Election Day, the responsibility of electing the governor falls to the state Legislature, with each state senator and representative casting one vote each.

Democrats currently hold a decisive 117-55 lead in the Legislature.

In Nevada, Republican Brian Sandoval, who had beaten scandal-plagued incumbent Gov. Jim Gibbons in the primary, defeated Democrat Rory Reid.

In Arizona, Republican Gov. Jan Brewer defeated Democrat Terry Goddard.

In Alaska, Palin's successor as governor, Sean Parnell, beat Democratic Ethan Berkowitz, a former state representative.

In Hawaii, former Rep. Neil Abercrombie, a Democrat, won back the governorship for his party by defeating Republican Lt. Gov. Duke Aiona. Republican Gov. Linda Lingle left the seat due to term limits.

Haley Credits Palin For Helping Message In S.C.

South Carolina Governor-elect Nikki Haley says former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin helped spread Haley's message, but she's not ready to endorse Palin for president.

Haley told NBC's "Today" show Wednesday she already was picking up momentum in the Republican primary when Palin came to Columbia to endorse her.

"We saw were coming from fourth places to about second places, but certainly when she came to getting involved in South Carolina, it got more people to pay attention to the message, so we were very grateful," Haley said. "She has gotten the country to realize the power of their voice, and she certainly did that in South Carolina. We were grateful. We spread our message and she helped us do that."

But Haley says it's too soon to say she would back Palin for president in 2012.

"I think the responsibility to the citizens of South Carolina is that I look at the environment. I look at the slate of candidates that are running and I make the choice that I think is best for the people of this state," Haley said. "I think it's definitely too early to make any of those decisions but I will weigh out all the issues when it's time."

Haley says she's proud to be a product of the tea party movement. She says that movement tries to fight what she called "arrogance" by Republicans and Democrats.

"I love the tea party," Haley said. "The tea party is not a party at all. It's Republicans, Democrats and Independents, who said, 'We've had enough.' They wanted to take their government back. It was going back to what the role of government should be, which is government was intended to secure the rights and freedoms of the people. It was never intended to be all things to all people."

Haley again downplayed the significance of becoming the first woman governor in South Carolina. She says what she hopes to accomplish as governor is more important.

"I think when people look at this race they certainly see that it's historic. What I hope is historic is what we accomplish in January and the things we do for South Carolina," Haley said. "Anyone that's proud because of this election, I appreciate that and my family shares in that, but I think the pride is going to happen in January when we do great things for South Carolina."

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Sources: CNN, WCNC, Google Maps

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