The Vote: Governors

Democratic Rep. Bob Wise has unseated Republican Gov. Cecil Underwood in West Virginia, while in 10 other states, the incumbent party has held on to governorships, ABCNEWS projects.

Democrat Bob Holden claimed the Missouri governor’s mansion early this morning. He defeated Republican Jim Talent, a congressman from St. Louis.

Holden used his victory speech to pay tribute to the late Gov. Mel Carnahan, who died in a plane crash while campaigning for U.S. Senate.

The West Virginia race had been seen as a tossup with Underwood, the nation’s oldest governor, holding a slim lead in recent polls.

The Party Power Struggle

Democrats retained seven gubernatorial seats — with victories by incumbents in Indiana, New Hampshire, Vermont and Washington, and wins in Delaware, Missouri and North Carolina.

Republicans retained three seats — with the incumbent winning in Utah, and other candidates winning in Montana and North Dakota.

Coming into Election Day, Republicans controlled 30 governor’s offices, Democrats 18 and independents 2. The results move one governorship from the Republican column to the Democrats’.

In Montana, Republican Lt. Gov. Judy Martz defeated State Auditor Mark O’Keefe. The Democrat was believed to have made it a close race after pouring millions of dollars of his wife’s family fortune into his campaign.

In North Dakota, Republican John Hoeven beat Heidi Heitkamp, whose announcement in September that she had breast cancer gave her a fleeting surge in the race.

In winning Vermont, Democratic Gov. Howard Dean overcame an expected backlash over his state’s decision to allow same-sex civil unions. He also survived a challenge by third-party candidates that threatened to prevent him from getting a majority of the popular vote, which is required for an Election Day victory in the Green Mountain State.

Democratic Gov. Jeanne Shaheen’s re-election in New Hampshire and Democrat Mike Easley’s win in North Carolina came in other races where Republicans had faint hopes of unseating the Democrats.

In Delaware, Lt. Gov. Ruth Ann Minner, the winner, had a large lead in pre-election polls. So did Indiana Gov. Frank O’Bannon, who defeated Republican Rep. David McIntosh.

In Utah and Washington, incumbent governors won re-election, as many expected. Democratic Gov. Gary Locke took Washington, while Republican Gov. Mike Leavitt was the victor in Utah.

Following are details on the 11 states that had governorships up for grabs this year. The candidate from the incumbent party is listed first.

Delaware

Ruth Ann Minner (D) vs. John Burris (R)

ABCNEWS PROJECTION: Incumbent Party (D) Wins

With 100 percent of the vote counted, Lt. Gov. Ruth Ann Minner has won the governorship in Delaware, preserving the Democrats’ hold on the office.

Her margin of victory over John Burris, the former state Chamber of Commerce president and a former state representative, was 59 to 40 percent, according to unofficial figures.

The sitting governor, Democratic Gov. Tom Carper, easily beat his Republican opponents in 1992 and 1996, but was barred from running for re-election because of term limits. Instead, he made a successful bid for the Senate.

A poll out last week showed Minner surging to a 12-percentage-point lead, after earlier polls showed a once-sizeable lead shrinking down to eight points.

Indiana

Gov. Frank O’Bannon (D) vs. David McIntosh (R)

ABCNEWS PROJECTION: Incumbent Party (D) Wins

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