Republicans turned to voters in a nearly a dozen American states Tuesday in hopes of broadening the party's hold on governors' mansions across America, with some candidates viewing this election as their best opportunity to win in a quarter-century.
Two years ago, Republicans snatched six governors' office in the elections, giving the party 29 governorships to 20 for Democrats and one independent. This year, 11 states are picking their chief executive.
When all the ballots are counted, Republicans could have as many as 33 governorships — the most since the 1920s and one more than they had in the 1990s.
In four states — Montana, New Hampshire, North Carolina and Washington — Democratic governors are leaving office, raising Republican hopes that at least some of those offices can be flipped to them. Four other seats are held by Democrats who are seeking re-election.
One of the most closely watched states is North Carolina, which is trending toward a Republican governor for the first time since 1988. Recent polls have shown a tight race in Washington state, where the Republican Party hasn't occupied the governor's mansion in more than three decades.
Popular Republican incumbents in conservative states such as Utah and North Dakota are considered likely to hold on. The Republican are also competing in West Virginia and Missouri, the latter a state where national Republican and Democratic governors' groups have poured millions into the race between Democratic incumbent Gov. Jay Nixon and Republican businessman rival Dave Spence.
The Democrats had modest hopes of taking over the governorship in Indiana, where Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels is stepping down, though polling consistently has favoured Republican candidate Mike Pence.