Buoyed by strong support in King County, Democrat Jay Inslee looked well-positioned to maintain his party’s three-decade winning streak in Washington state gubernatorial races in a race still too close to call.
Inslee led Republican attorney general Rob McKenna by 51 percent to 49 percent late Tuesday.
With a wave of Democratic victories nationally, from President Obama’s re-election to a slate of wins in most contested statewide races, cheering Democrats gathered at the election-night party at the Westin in Seattle were optimistic about Inslee’s chances.
A confident Inslee took the stage at 10:40 p.m. and stopped just short of declaring victory in a brief speech.
“They are still counting the ballots in the governor’s race, but I believe this — I believe tonight our state has taken another step forward and we have elected a forward-looking governor,” Inslee said.
Republicans, however, picked up a governor’s office that has recently, not to mention historically, been in Democratic Party control, in North Carolina, adding to a streak of gains in recent elections that has given the party a strong majority in state capitals.
But Democratic incumbents held on in Delaware and Vermont in an election year when many voters were distracted from duels for governor by other races and issues — from the presidential race to the control of Congress.
And Democrats also held on to the governor’s seat in New Hampshire, where a popular Democratic incumbent chose not to run again.
Pat McCrory, the longtime mayor of Charlotte, N.C., defeated the Democratic nominee and current Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton, whose name was linked — apparently not to Dalton’s benefit — with Gov. Bev Perdue, a Democrat who chose not to seek a second term as her popularity sank with economic troubles and an ethics investigation of former aides.
McCrory, 56, is the first Republican elected governor of his state since 1988, and only the third Republican governor of North Carolina since 1901.