Race to the Right: GOP Sweeps Governor Seats


Republican former Gov. Terry Branstad of Iowa won his job back at the governor's mansion when he beat incumbent Democrat Gov. Chet Culver, according to exit polls. Brandstad held the seat from 1983 to 1999, making him the longest-serving governor in Iowa history.

Alaska and Idaho remained in the Republican fold, as incumbent Gov. Sean Parnell overtook Democrat Ethan Berkowitz in Alaska, and In Idaho, C.L. "Butch" Otter won re-election over Democrat Keith Allred. Palin, an Idaho native, endorsed Otter on a conservative website, saying he is a voice for "commonsense conservatism."

Another Republican incumbent who was able to hang on to her governorship was Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer. Despite what she called "brain freezes" during a debate against her challenger, Democrat Terry Goddard, Brewer pulled through with a double-digit lead, based on exit polls.

Georgia experienced the opposite effect when ABC News projected former Republican Rep. Nathan Deal to beat out Democrat Roy Barnes, who had served as governor from 1999 to 2003.

History-making governor races of a different kind are being won in New Mexico and Oklahoma, where two women faced off for the governor's seat in both states. It's the first time either state has elected a woman to its top office.

New Mexico switched to red and elected Republican Susana Martinez over Democrat Lt. Gov. Diane Denish. Martinez, who is also the first female Hispanic governor in U.S. history, had held a 10-point lead in the polls for the last week of campaigning.

In Oklahoma, ABC News is projecting that Republican candidate Rep. Mary Fallin will defeat Democratic Lt. Gov. Jari Askins, based on exit polls.

Having a female opponent didn't stop Fallin from taking a few jabs at her challenger over women's issues towards the end of the campaign.

"I think my experience is one of the things that sets me apart as a candidate for governor," Fallin said at a debate in October. "First of all, being a mother, having children, raising a family."

Askins, a former judge who has never been married or had children, later defended herself on "Good Morning America," saying neither marriage nor parenting experience should be a prerequisite for being governor.

Based on exit polls, four other blue states have made the switch to red in the governor's seat: Kansas, Michigan, Wyoming and Tennessee.

In Pennsylvania, Republican candidate Tom Corbett is expected to win over Democrat Dan Onorato, and in Michigan, Republican businessman Rick Synder is expected to beat out Democratic candidate and Lansing mayor Virg Bernero, respectively.

Republican Sam Brownback, a retired senator, stepped out of the political shadows and took the governship in Kansas. The one-time presidential hopeful beat out Democrat state Sen. Tom Holland.

In Texas, incumbent Republican Gov. Rick Perry will extend his already decade-long tenure -- the longest in the state's history -- as ABC News projected him to be the winner over Democrat Bill White. Throughout his faltering campaign, White's donors dumped tons of cash into the challenger's war chest but to no avail.

Republicans are creeping into the Midwest and West, claiming gubernatorial seats in Nevada, Wyoming, Nebraska and South Dakota.

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