Election Roundup

 

Note: This article is a sidebar to this issue's feature story, "The West: A New Center of Power."

ARIZONA

After taking office in 2003, Democratic Gov. Janet Napolitano vetoed more than 110 bills passed by the Republican Legislature. Voters seem to like her stands. She won re-election by roughly 2-to-1 over archconservative Republican Len Munsil. Both ran campaigns with public financing — about $1 million each from Arizona’s unusual Clean Elections Program.

Democrat Gabrielle Giffords, an ex-Republican, won a House seat in southeast Arizona that includes parts of metro Tucson; her opponent, Randy Graf, who belongs to the Minuteman group, ran as an immigration hard-liner.

Democrat Harry Mitchell, an ex-high-schoolteacher and longtime local politician, took the suburban-Phoenix House seat held by J.D. Hayworth, another archconservative Republican.

Voters rejected competing state-lands ballot measures, one backed by environmentalists, the other by ranchers, but passed a measure requiring better treatment of pregnant pigs at factory farms.


CALIFORNIA

Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger terminated Democrat Phil Angelides, even though the GOP is a minority party in California.

Republican and champion anti-environmentalist Richard Pombo lost his House seat, inland from San Francisco, to Democrat Jerry McNerney, a wind-energy consultant and Ph.D. mathematician.

Seemingly unsinkable Democrat Jerry Brown, mayor of Oakland and ex-Governor Moonbeam, was elected attorney general.

Voters rejected a proposed new tax on California oil companies to raise $4 billion for alternative-energy programs.

 

COLORADO

Democrat Bill Ritter, a Denver prosecutor, took the governorship in a state where his party is a minority, beating anti-tax, pro-oil Congressman Bob Beauprez.

Democrat Ed Perlmutter, promising to develop renewable energy and end the Bush tax cuts, took what had been Beauprez’s House seat, besting Republican Rick O’Donnell, who wanted to deport all undocumented immigrants.

Democrats solidified their hold on the Legislature; for the first time in decades, they control both chambers and the governorship.


IDAHO

Democrats came closer than in some recent election cycles, but Idaho continues to prove itself the nation’s most Republican state, with the GOP sweeping all statewide races. Conservative Congressman Butch Otter is now governor, and anti-abortion zealot Bill Sali has Otter’s old House seat.

Democrats picked up six state legislative seats, chiefly in metro Boise districts; still, they hold just 26 of the 105 total seats.

Boise narrowly rejected a proposal to place a Ten Commandments monument in a city park.


MONTANA

Democrat Jon Tester, a beer-bellied, crewcut-topped organic farmer, barely took the Senate seat of Republican Conrad Burns, a gaffe-prone master of appropriating federal money for Montana projects.

Democrats lost a few state legislative seats, so the parties are nearly even in the House and Senate, making things tougher on Democratic Gov. Brian Schweitzer.

Voters in two fast-growing counties (liberal Missoula and conservative Ravalli) agreed to tax themselves for $10-million bond issues to buy open space.

 

NEVADA

Republican Rep. Jim Gibbons, who sponsored a recent proposal to sell off federal land, gave up his seat to run for governor and beat Democrat Dina Titus, a University of Nevada-Las Vegas political science professor, 48 to 44 percent. Four percent went for "None of These" — a Nevada innovation allowing voters to express general angst.

Democrats won races for attorney general and three other statewide offices, increased their dominance in the state House and nearly achieved a tie in the state Senate, all of which will pressure Gibbons to govern from the center.

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