GOP, Democrats splitting governor's races in key states

Democratic candidate state senator Laura Kelly responds to questions on stage during the Gubernatorial debate at the Kansas State Fair in Hutchinson Kansas in September

Democratic candidate state senator Laura Kelly responds to questions on stage during the Gubernatorial debate at the Kansas State Fair in Hutchinson Kansas in September

Wisconsin Democratic gubernatorial candidate Tony Evers, left, and lieutenant governor candidate Mandela Barnes in Madison, Wis., Wednesday.

Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner in IL lost his bid for a second term to Democrat J.B. Pritzker.

Elsewhere, Republicans were celebrating the re-election of Gov. Larry Hogan in Maryland, a Democratic state that nevertheless returned the popular moderate for a second term. All told, Democrats had flipped at least seven Republican-held governorships without suffering any losses as of early Wednesday morning.

The governor's races have extra emphasis in 28 states where the winners will serve four-year terms with the potential power to approve or reject district boundaries drawn for Congress or state legislatures.

Republicans are in control more often than not in state capitols across the country, but Democrats were trying to pull a little closer in elections Tuesday for governor and state legislature.

The races in Florida and Georgia were seen as a test of whether liberal candidates could prevail in Southern states, where centrist Democrats have repeatedly lost, by appealing to a coalition of young and minority voters. And in Kansas, Democratic state lawmaker Laura Kelly defeated Republican Secretary of State Kris Kobach, a close ally of Trump. "Turnout in both of these states is going to matter a lot".

Accusations of race-baiting dogged Kemp, 55, and DeSantis, 40, who denied the allegations. Democratic former President Barack Obama swooped in to boost the Democrats, and media star Oprah Winfrey visited Georgia on behalf of Abrams. Neither Georgia nor Florida has elected a Democratic governor in 20 years.

Democrats took six legislative chambers away from Republicans on Tuesday night, giving them control of 37 across the country.

Perhaps most significantly, Democrats added six states - Illinois, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, Colorado and ME - in which they control both chambers of the legislature and the governorship.

The Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee and Republican State Leadership Committee, which focus on state races, also set record fundraising targets. The GOP held a trifecta of power in 25 states, compared with just eight for Democrats.

The outcome of elections for state positions could also affect future control of the U.S. House of Representatives. In some states, a governor's power to sign or veto congressional maps could decide the partisan balance.

Democrats were hoping enthusiasm among their voters also could flip governor's seats in Iowa and Kansas, as well as in the traditional battleground states of Michigan, Nevada, Ohio and Wisconsin.

"Laura is the only choice to lead Kansas and end the Brownback-Kobach experiment for good", Sebelius said before the vote, tying Kobach to former Gov. Sam Brownback, whose administration dug the state into a deep financial hole before he left the post to become the U.S. ambassador at large for global religious freedom.

In Colorado, Democrat Jared Polis became the first openly gay man to be elected governor of a USA state.