LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - Thanks in part to voters in the Great Lakes region, especially Michiganders who sealed a victory for Gretchen Whitmer, the Democratic Party now represents a majority of Americans through the governorships it holds throughout the country.
Democrats flipped seven governorships on Tuesday, increasing the number of states with Democratic governors to 23. That number is obviously not a majority of the 50 states, but the populations of those states add up to more than half of Americans – about 170 million people.
Many of Democrats’ seven new governorships came in the Great Lakes, Midwest and Rust Belt regions of the U.S., all of which Michigan is a part. Here is a breakdown:
Michigan: “I guess we’re going to have to fix the damn roads now, right?” Whitmer opened her acceptance speech Tuesday night after a successful campaign anchored by her promise to 'fix the damn roads.' After eight years of a Republican in the governor’s chair, Michigan will be represented by a Democrat (and a woman) for the first time since Jennifer Granholm in 2011.
Let’s get it done. pic.twitter.com/lmaPBOddXp— Gretchen Whitmer (@gretchenwhitmer) November 7, 2018
“Gretchen will be a great leader for Michigan, working to improve schools, provide clean water and, yes, fix the damn roads,” said Gov. Jay Inslee, D-Wash., chair of the Democratic Governors Association, in a statement.
Whitmer’s victory was one of four in which a Democrat won a state that President Donald Trump carried in 2016. However, she will have to work with a Republican-majority state legislature, as will be the case for many of the new governors.
Wisconsin: Democrats have been fighting incumbent Republican Scott Walker throughout his eight years in office as he moved the state to the right and decreased the power of labor unions. On Tuesday night, Gov. Walker went down in a close race. Democrat Tony Evers, the current state superintendent of schools, will be the Badger State’s next governor. He eked out a win by about 30,000 voters in a 2.6 million-vote race. Wisconsin is another state the President won in 2016.
Illinois: Voters overwhelmingly rejected incumbent Republican Bruce Rauner after four years of gridlock in Springfield. Democrat J.B. Pritzker, a multi-billionaire and household name in Chicago, will be the state’s sixth governor in the last 20 years as Illinois tries to fix its pension system and move past a recent history of political dysfunction and corruption.
Pennsylvania: Though it wasn’t a flip, incumbent Gov. Tom Wolf staved off a challenge from Trump-like state senator Scott Wagner in yet another state the President carried two years ago. Wolf’s victory by nearly 17 percent coincides with efforts to invest more money into public education and mitigate Pennsylvania’s opioid epidemic.
“With seven of eight governorships, eight Senate seats, all members of the House, and numerous state and local offices on the ballot, yesterday’s election touched every corner of the eight Great Lakes states,” said Joel Brammeier, President and CEO of the environmental group Alliance for the Great Lakes, in a statement.
Kansas: Deeper into the Midwest, The Sunflower State offered possibly the most symbolic victory for Democrats, as Laura Kelly handily defeated secretary of state Kris Kobach. The Republican came under much scrutiny while leading a 2017 Trump administration commission that focused on cracking down on voter fraud. That commission was disbanded earlier this year after many states refused to hand over their voter rolls and because there is no evidence of widespread voter fraud in the United States.
The other governorships that flipped from Republican to Democrat were Maine, New Mexico and Nevada.
Republicans were able to flip one governor seat: Alaska. State senator Mike Dunleavy unseated independent Bill Walker. However, Walker dropped his re-election bid a couple weeks before the election to endorse the Democrat in the race.