SAN FRANCISCO - Some new faces took power and new power alignments were created in state and local governments Tuesday as voters weighed in on their local tickets.
In Missouri, Democratic Attorney General Jay Nixon beat out Republican congressman Kenny Hulshof in the governor's race to replace retiring Republican Gov. Matt Blunt.
In Ohio, Democratic Treasurer Richard Cordray won the attorney general seat, which became vacant earlier this year when former AG Marc Dann stepped down amid a sexual harassment scandal. Cordray will serve the remaining two years of Dann's term.
Gov. Ted Strickland, a Democrat, will appoint a replacement to serve the remaining two years of Cordray's term. Strickland is still considering a number of candidates, according to the treasurer's office.
In Washington, where votes are still being tallied as mail ballots come in, Democrat Jim McIntire led the race for state treasurer by more than 60,000 votes yesterday afternoon over Republican Allan Martin. Martin was endorsed by the retiring three-term treasurer, Democrat Michael Murphy.
Washington voters gave Democratic Gov. Chris Gregoire a mandate in a rematch of her razor-thin, disputed 2004 battle with Republican Dino Rossi.
In Oregon, the state's top finance post seemed poised to remain in Democratic hands. State Sen. Ben Westlund of Bend led Republican businessman Allen Alley, a former aide to Democratic Gov. Ted Kulongoski, with just under 50% of the vote to 47% for Alley, with an estimated three-quarters of the vote counted. Local media, including the Portland Oregonian, have declared Westlund the victor. He replaces Randall Edwards, departing because of term limits.
In an expected gubernatorial victory, U.S. Rep. Luis Fortuño beat incumbent Puerto Rico Gov. Anibal Acevedo Vila, grabbing 978,133 votes, or 53% of reported votes, to the governor's 768,375, or 41%, according to Luis Davila Colon, who hosts a daily political radio show in San Juan.
"It's going to be about a 12-to-13-point spread and that hasn't happened in Puerto Rico since 1964," Davila Colon said.
Acevedo Vila, a member of the Popular Democratic Party, had challenges in his re-election campaign. He is currently under indictment for alleged illegal campaign finance activities and will stand trial in February.
In addition, the island faces a $1 billion deficit in its current $9.48 billion budget and residents have taken on increased utility rates and public transportation fees. Those issues, along with an 11.7% unemployment rate and the island's heavy dependence on oil to generate electricity will now become challenges for the new Fortuño administration.
Fortuño, of the pro-statehood New Progressive Party, or NPP, is the island's non-voting congressional representative. He campaigned on the promise of decreasing corporate and individual income taxes, cutting government spending by 5%, and eliminating unnecessary government jobs.
The NPP not only retained control of both legislative chambers, but took five additional Senate seats and two additional seats in the House of Representatives. Yet Davila Colon said having the NPP controlling the executive branch and the legislature does not guarantee that Fortuño's programs and initiatives, along with the party's desire to make the island the 51st state in the union, will come to pass.
Voters in West Virginia and North Carolina seemed determined to keep Democrats in the governor's office.
West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin easily won a second term in office.
In North Carolina, Lieut. Gov. Bev Perdue will become the state's first female governor after beating Republican Pat McCrory, the mayor of Charlotte. Perdue will replace the term-limited Mike Easley.
North Dakotans re-elected Republican Gov. John Hoeven and Indiana's incumbent Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels, who spearheaded the leasing of the Indiana Toll Road, won another four years in office, defeating Democratic opponent Jill Long Thompson.
Louisiana Treasurer John Kennedy, who chairs the State Bond Commission, will remain in that post after losing his bid to unseat incumbent U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, who won with 52% of the vote.
Kennedy was re-elected to a third four-year term as treasurer in 2007. He was elected the first two times as a Democrat, but switched parties to run as a Republican last year.
The election has reshaped several state legislatures.
The New York Senate will have a Democratic majority for the first time since 1965. After Tuesday, they control 32 of 62 seats, marking the first time since the Great Depression that Democrats control the governor's office, the Senate, and the Assembly at the same time. Senate minority leader Malcolm Smith, D-Queens, is expected to become the new majority leader, replacing Dean Skelos, R-Rockville Center, though he could face some challenges.
President Bush won Nevada in 2004, but with the state among the hardest hit by the real estate meltdown, President-elect Barack Obama thumped Sen. John McCain by more than 12 percentage points, and local Democrats rode Obama's coattails.
Democrats seized two state Senate seats to grab a 12-9 majority there, which should make the current minority leader, Steven Horsford of Las Vegas, the majority leader.
Democrats also added one state Assembly seat to give Speaker Barbara Buckley a veto-proof 28-14 majority to work with. With state tax revenues plunging, Democrats are expected to seek revenue increases, setting up a potential confrontation with Republican Gov. Jim Gibbons, who wants a cuts-only approach.
The Delaware House, Ohio House, and Wisconsin Assembly also switched from Republican to Democratic, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
In Tennessee, both House and Senate went to Republican control from Democratic, as did the Montana Senate and Oklahoma Senate, according to the NCSL. As of yesterday afternoon, the ultimate party control of the Montana House, Indiana House, Alaska Senate and Texas House was not yet decided, the NCSL said.
Democrat Gov. Brian Schweitzer won easy re-election in Montana despite his party's struggles for legislative seats.
Mufi Hannemann won re-election as mayor of Honolulu, in a race dominated by the debate over whether to continue with Hannemann's plan to build a rail transit system.
In San Diego, controversial Democratic city attorney Michael Aguirre - who has blocked certificates of participation with an unorthodox reading of the state debt limitation law - was voted out of office. Republican Superior Court Judge Jan Goldsmith took almost 60% of the vote in a runoff in a non-partisan election.
Caitlin Devitt, Michelle Kaske, Ted Phillips, Yvette Shields, Andrew Ward, Shelly Sigo, and Jim Watts contributed to this story.