Sabato's Crystal Ball

Four Statehouses Switch Parties

Washington battle between Gregoire and Rossi still too close to call

Matt Smyth, Senior Writer November 4th, 2004

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In eleven gubernatorial races spread out from coast to coast, the Crystal Ball accurately forecast at least nine, with the match up between Democratic State Attorney General Christine Gregoire and Republican State Senator Dino Rossi still too close to call and possibly headed for a recount.

So far the lone surprise has been the race for New Hampshire governor, where Democratic challenger John Lynch ganged up on the unpopular incumbent, Republican Craig Benson. Like its green mountain neighbor, voters in the Granite State typically give their governors a second two year term, even if they aren’t performing up to expectations, but this year’s result proved this tradition is not set in stone.

Three other states (so far) have seen a change in the party controlling the statehouse. Indiana saw Republican Mitch Daniels unseat incumbent Democrat Joe Kernan, who had assumed the governorship after the death of Frank O’Bannon in 2003. Missouri also witnessed a Republican taking a formerly Democratic seat when Matt Blount defeated Claire McCaskill.

On the flip side, Democrats added another governor to their ranks in Montana, with Brian Schweitzer’s win over Bob Brown in this open seat contest. Democrats could add one more if Gregoire’s slight lead (14,000 votes) in Washington survives a recount, or Rossi could add another notch for the GOP. With this race still to be determined the current gubernatorial breakdown sits at 28 Republicans and 21 Democrats.