Normally overshadowed by the fight for control of Congress, the state governor races in the 2022 midterm elections have taken on new importance in this year's midterm election.
Thirty-six of 50 states are electing a governor, and with hot issues like abortion rights, gun laws, and immigration policies at the forefront of voters’ minds, both parties spent unprecedented amounts of money to win seats.
Those elected will be in power for the 2024 election when they could influence voting laws as well as certification of the outcome. And their powers over abortion rights increased greatly when the U.S. Supreme Court in June overturned Roe v. Wade, leaving the question to states to decide.
"Governors' races matter more than ever," said North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper, chair of the Democratic Governors Association, the group working to elect Democrats to lead states.
Governors "are often the last line of defense" on issues that have been turned over to states, including gun laws and voting rights in addition to abortion, Cooper noted.
Live results: Races for governor
Here’s a look at how some key races for governor are turning out. Click or tap for a detailed look at each state:
- Arizona governor's race results
- Florida governor's race results
- Georgia governor's race results
- Kansas governor's race results
- Maine governor's race results
- Michigan governor's race results
- Nevada governor's race results
- New Mexico governor's race results
- New York governor's race results
- Oregon governor's race results
- Pennsylvania governor's race results
- Texas governor's race results
- Wisconsin governor's race results
Democrat Katie Hobbs was elected Arizona governor on Monday, defeating an ally of Donald Trump who falsely claimed the 2020 election was rigged and refused to say she would accept the results of her race this year.
Hobbs, who is Arizona’s secretary of state, rose to prominence as a staunch defender of the legitimacy of the last election and warned that her Republican rival, former television news anchor Kari Lake, would be an agent of chaos. Hobbs’ victory adds further evidence that Trump is weighing down his allies in a crucial battleground state as the former president gears up for an announcement of a 2024 presidential run.
She will succeed Republican Gov. Doug Ducey, who was prohibited by term limit laws from running again. She’s the first Democrat to be elected governor in Arizona since Janet Napolitano in 2006.
A onetime Republican stronghold where Democrats made gains during the Trump era, Arizona has been central to efforts by Trump and his allies to cast doubt on Joe Biden’s 2020 presidential victory with false claims of fraud. This year, many Trump-endorsed candidates faltered in general elections in battleground states, though his pick in the Nevada governor’s race, Republican Joe Lombardo, defeated an incumbent Democrat.
Before entering politics, Hobbs was a social worker who worked with homeless youth and an executive with a large domestic violence shelter in the Phoenix area. She was elected to the state Legislature in 2010, serving one term in the House and three terms in the Senate, rising to minority leader.
Hobbs eked out a narrow win in 2018 as secretary of state and was thrust into the center of a political storm as Arizona became the centerpiece of the efforts by Trump and his allies to overturn the results of the 2020 election he lost. She appeared constantly on cable news defending the integrity of the vote count.
The attention allowed her to raise millions of dollars and raise her profile. When she announced her campaign for governor, other prominent Democrats declined to run and Hobbs comfortably won her primary.
Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis won reelection to a second term Tuesday in a victory over Democrat Charlie Crist, bolstering his rise as a prominent GOP star with potential White House ambitions.
DeSantis’ win continues a rightward shift for what was once the nation’s largest swing state, as voters embraced a governor who reveled in culture war politics and framed his candidacy as a battle against the "woke agenda" of liberals.
In the lead-up to the election, DeSantis harnessed the power of incumbency to assemble media, often on short notice and far outside major markets, for news conferences where he would spend significant time honing critiques of Democratic President Joe Biden, liberal policies and the mainstream media, delivered before cheering crowds.
He gained significant national attention during the start of the coronavirus pandemic through his outspoken opposition to continued lockdowns and to mask and vaccine mandates, and eventually displayed an eagerness to wade into nearly any cultural divide, including immigration, gender, education and more.
The victory is certain to further speculation of a potential DeSantis presidential run. DeSantis has so far dodged questions on his possible Washington aspirations, skirting the subject repeatedly during his only gubernatorial debate with Crist in late October. Former President Donald Trump, who credits himself for propelling DeSantis to a first term in the governor’s office, has grown frustrated with DeSantis’ refusal to rule out a 2024 run, according to people familiar with Trump’s thinking.
Georgia Republican Gov. Brian Kemp has successfully fought off Democratic challenger Stacey Abrams for a second time, securing four more years in office, according to FOX News.
Abrams, a lawyer whose 2018 loss to Kemp helped launch her into Democratic stardom, called Kemp Tuesday night to concede the race.
Kemp, who was a developer before serving as a state senator and secretary of state, managed to clinch another term despite attacks from former President Donald Trump that threatened to snuff out support in his own party.
The 59-year-old governor seemed on shaky ground among Republicans after the 2020 presidential election, when Trump blamed him for not doing enough to overturn President Joe Biden’s narrow win in Georgia. Trump helped lure former U.S. Sen. David Perdue into a primary challenge to Kemp, whom he called a "complete and total failure".
While many incumbents are weakened by serious primary challenges, Kemp appeared to be strengthened. Trump’s attacks gave Kemp credibility with the narrow margin of Georgia voters who are willing to consider voting for either party, a largely White, college educated and suburban demographic.
Kemp highlighted his stewardship of the state economy and his decision to relax public restrictions early in the COVID-19 pandemic.
Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly won reelection in GOP-leaning Kansas, overcoming Republican efforts to tie her to Biden and high inflation and likely benefitting from moderate GOP and independent voters’ frustrations with a failed summer attempt to tighten abortion laws.
Kelly defeated Republican Derek Schmidt, the state’s three-term attorney general, after highlighting Kansas’ improved finances and greater spending on public schools on her watch, as well as successes in luring businesses. Kelly’s support for abortion rights also likely played an important role, though she didn’t emphasize that issue in her fall campaign.
"The people of Kansas sent a very clear message at the polls yesterday. Kansans said we will keep moving forward as a state, full steam ahead – there will be no turning backward," Kelly said Wednesday in a statement declaring victory.
"Perhaps above all, I believe Kansans voted today for civility, for cooperation, for listening to one another, and for a spirit of bi-partisan problem-solving, that’s become all too rare in our politics today."
Her victory was a bitter defeat for Republicans. They had high hopes of ousting the only Democratic governor seeking reelection this year in a state that ex-President Donald Trump won easily in 2020.
David Toland, the state’s commerce secretary, was elected lieutenant governor on Kelly’s ticket. He is likely to remain commerce secretary as lieutenant governor.
Advance voting before Tuesday suggested that the turnout would exceed the unusually high number of ballots cast for the August election on the abortion question.
Democrats were energized in August by a statewide vote decisively rejecting a proposed amendment to the Kansas Constitution that would have cleared the way for tighter restrictions on abortion or a ban of the procedure. Schmidt supported the measure while Kelly opposed it, but it wasn’t clear how much staying power the issue had as Kelly emphasized other issues.
Democratic Gov. Janet Mills has turned back a challenge by Paul LePage, the bombastic former two-term Republican governor, to win a second term in Maine.
The first woman to serve as governor of the state, Mills had touted pragmatic leadership during the pandemic, including executive orders that LePage decried as a "reign of terror." LePage also faulted Mills’ spending during the pandemic as he sought a third four-year term, which would have made him the longest-serving governor in state history.
"Tonight, you sent a clear message – a message that says we will continue to move forward, and we will not go back. We will continue to fight problems, and not one another," Mills told the election-night crowd in downtown Portland.
LePage didn’t concede but acknowledged the math wasn’t adding up. He took an angry jab at the sitting governor during emotional remarks to his supporters in Lewiston, questioning her honesty and calling her an "elitist."
It was a hard-fought battle with tens of millions of dollars in advertising by the candidates and dark-money groups.
The contest pitted a former attorney general from a family prominent in public service against a former businessman who was homeless as a boy and once compared himself to Trump.
LePage stormed to office in 2010, and later described himself as a prototype for Trump, in effect "Trump before Trump." Democrats urged Mainers to reject the man who told the Portland NAACP to "kiss my butt," compared the IRS to the Gestapo and said he’d tell then-President Barack Obama "to go to hell."
Mills campaigned on her financial stewardship. She created the state’s largest rainy day fund, fully funded state education and returned $850 relief checks to most Mainers.
She said she wanted to continue her efforts on health care after expanding the state’s Medicaid rolls, and on education after boosting funding. She vowed to work to grow the economy and to ensure women continue to have the legal right to an abortion.
Democratic Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer won a second four-year term in Tuesday’s election, defeating Republican challenger Tudor Dixon in the battleground state where abortion had become a key issue.
Whitmer was first elected in 2018 after years in the Legislature and has since become a leading voice in the Democratic Party, delivering the party’s response to Trump’s State of the Union address in 2020. She has said in interviews that she will not run for president in 2024 even if President Joe Biden doesn’t seek reelection.
Whitmer led a statewide ticket of Democrats that centered their campaigns on abortion rights after the U.S. Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe vs. Wade. Whitmer filed multiple lawsuits in state courts to block a 1931 law banning abortion from taking effect.
While Michigan has been slow to bounce back from some of the country’s strictest COVID policies, Whitmer has said priorities in her second-term include bringing auto jobs back to the state and helping small businesses recover.
Dixon, who was endorsed by Trump, was a former political commentator and horror-film actress who struggled until late in the campaign to compete with Whitmer’s multimillion dollar campaign fund.
Whitmer spent millions on ads attacking Dixon for being too "extreme" on abortion, which went unanswered for months as her Republican opponent struggled to fundraise. Dixon, who was endorsed by Trump, opposes the procedure in all cases except to save the life of the mother.
The Democrat also threw her support to a Michigan ballot measure seeking to enshrine abortion rights in the state constitution and overrule a 1931 law that was triggered after the fall of Roe v. Wade that would criminalize abortion.
Michigan Democrats hoped the proposal would lead to high voter turnout statewide and give the party key victories in U.S. House and state legislative races.
RELATED: Michigan Live Election Results: Whitmer projected to defeat Dixon in governor race
Republican Joe Lombardo will be the next governor of Nevada, beating incumbent Steve Sisolak.
Sisolak was elected governor in 2018 after spending nearly a decade as a Clark County Commissioner. Lombardo, after serving more than two decades in the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, was elected Clark County Sheriff in 2014. Clark County covers just 7% of Nevada’s land area, but holds nearly three-quarters of the state’s population, making it by far Nevada’s most populous county.
Lombardo advanced to the general election after winning a crowded and contentious GOP gubernatorial primary, thanks in part to an endorsement from former Trump, who remains the Republican Party’s most popular and influential politicians.
The count of ballots in Nevada took several days partly due to a provision of a mail voting law passed in 2020 that requires counties to accept ballots postmarked by Election Day if they arrive up to four days later.
Elections authorities in Clark and Washoe counties, the state’s most heavily populated, warned up front that it would take days to process all the ballots again this year.
Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has won reelection to a second term by defeating Republican Mark Ronchetti on pledges to safeguard access to abortion and sustain public spending on social safety-net programs.
Lujan Grisham hitched her campaign to support for abortion access as a cornerstone of women’s rights, along with legislative accomplishments that range from tax cuts to gun control and teacher pay raises.
"Tonight New Mexico said ‘no’ to a political crusade that wants to turn women into second-class citizens," the governor said in a victory speech to supporters in Albuquerque.
Her reelection in a heavily Hispanic state with entrenched swaths of extreme poverty is likely to prolong state support for tuition-free college for in-state students, expanded preschool and no-pay daycare, and shore up health care subsidies for low-income residents.
Ronchetti, a former television meteorologist, fell short as he skewered Lujan Grisham on public safety concerns and the governor’s oversight of the economy, public education and child protective services.
Ronchetti told supporters, "Do not give up on the promise of what New Mexico can become."
Lujan Grisham said that Democrats defeated a political movement fueled by anger.
"The weather forecast in New Mexico is four more years — four more years of progress, four more years of rebuilding, four more years of fighting for students and educators," the governor said.
Lujan Grisham has drawn support from abortion-rights groups, teachers’ union leaders and recent visits from Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris.
During the pandemic, Lujan Grisham implemented aggressive public health restrictions on businesses and a roughly year-long suspension of classroom learning, promoting COVID-19 vaccinations with special attention to Native American communities.
Lujan Grisham’s reelection victory safeguards recent legislation that limits police immunity from prosecution, provides legal access to medically assisted suicide and outlaws wildlife trapping on public land.
The former three-term congresswoman has championed an "all-of-the-above" strategy toward energy production as wind turbines proliferate across the nation’s No. 2 state for oil production.
Lujan Grisham will command new authority over the electrical grid and power supplies by appointing regulators to the Public Regulation Commission, previously overseen by elected commissioners.
Democrat Kathy Hochul has become the first woman elected New York governor, winning the office outright that she took over in 2021 when former Gov. Andrew Cuomo resigned.
She defeated Republican congressman Lee Zeldin, an ally of Donald Trump who ran a campaign focused on fear of violent crime.
"Tonight you made your voices heard loud and clear. And, and you made me the first woman ever elected to be the governor of the state of New York. But I’m not here to make history, I’m here to make a difference," Hochul told supporters Tuesday night.
"I have felt a weight on my shoulders to make sure that every little girl and all the women of the state who’ve had to bang up against glass ceilings everywhere they turn, to know that a woman could be elected in her own right and successfully govern a state as rough and tumble as New York."
Hochul, a Buffalo native, had been expected to win in a state where there are more than twice as many registered Democrats as Republicans. New Yorkers haven’t elected a Republican as governor since Gov. George Pataki won a third term in 2002. But Zeldin made the race competitive, closing in on Hochul in the final weeks and appearing to spur her to speak more about public safety.
Tina Kotek has been elected Oregon’s next governor, extending longtime Democratic control of the state and dashing Republican hopes for a rare win in a top race on the West Coast of the U.S.
Kotek joins Maura Healey of Massachusetts as the first openly lesbian elected governors in the U.S.
"It is an absolute honor," Kotek said. "I can tell you that being who I am is important to Oregonians across the state. Lots of young people have come up to me and said thank you for running and thank you for being who you are."
The former longtime speaker of the Oregon House of Representatives had faced a stiff challenge from Republican Christine Drazan, who is also an ex-legislator.
Kotek stood in front of a fountain in Portland Thursday morning a few steps from the Willamette River and told an invitation-only crowd of reporters and supporters displaying her campaign signs that she was ready to get to work.
She said she plans to travel around Oregon starting in January to talk to community leaders about issues facing the state, particularly the shortage of affordable housing and addiction. She said her priorities are addressing homelessness, expanding access to mental health and addiction treatment and working to bridge the divisions in the state.
Kotek told reporters she has spoken with Drazan and Johnson, a former state senator who ran as an unaffiliated candidate and who conceded Tuesday night.
The Drazan campaign had said it hoped as more ballots were counted the results would cut into Kotek’s lead.
Tuesday is the last day for election officials to receive valid postmarked ballots by mail. There could be tens of thousands of uncounted ballots still in the mail in a state with 3 million registered voters.
Oregon was the first state to institute vote-by-mail but the 2022 election is different because a 2021 law passed by the Legislature allows ballots to be counted if they were postmarked by 8 p.m. on election day. Previously, votes needed to be received by election day.
Democrat Josh Shapiro has won Pennsylvania’s governor race, according to FOX News.
The second-term Attorney General cemented his win as polls closed across the battleground state, where stakes remain high for abortion rights, crime, the economy and the 2024 presidential election.
After defending a woman’s right to choose and promising to fight to"keep Pennsylvania from getting screwed," Shapiro will now take on the role as Pennsylvania governor as Tom Wolf’s term comes to an end.
Shapiro smashed Pennsylvania’s campaign finance record in a powerhouse campaign in a year in which Democrats nationally faced headwinds, including high inflation.
Mastriano, a retired Army colonel and state senator, is a relative political novice who ran a hard-right campaign and refused for much of it to talk to mainstream news organizations, scuttling prospects for a debate with an independent moderator.
Shapiro is the first Democratic governor of Pennsylvania to be elected to succeed a member of his party since 1966.
Issues including the economy and abortion rights weighed heavily on voters.
Roughly 8 in 10 Pennsylvania voters say things in the country are moving in the wrong direction, according to AP VoteCast, an expansive survey of more than 3,100 voters in the state.
About half the state’s voters say the economy and jobs are the most important issue facing the country, according to the survey. And about 8 in 10 voters rate the nation’s economy as either not so good or poor.
Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott decisively won a third term Tuesday night, defeating Democrat Beto O’Rourke in a midterm race that tested the direction of America’s supersized red state following the Uvalde school massacre and a strict new abortion ban.
The victory underlined Abbott’s durability. Despite record spending in the race that topped more than $200 million combined, O'Rourke was in danger of losing by double-digits just four years after his narrow U.S. Senate loss that was the closest by a Texas Democrat in decades.
"Tonight, Texans sent a very resounding message," Abbott said during a victory speech in the southern border city of McAllen.
In rapidly changing Texas — a booming juggernaut of 29 million people that is becoming younger, less white and a magnet for major companies — Abbott remained a bulwark for the GOP in the face of a high-profile and hard-charging challenger.
Abbott capitalized on anxieties about crime and inflation against a charismatic rival who took up the fight for voters soured by mass shootings, an abortion ban and the deadly failure of the state’s power grid in 2021.
The outcome now puts two of Texas’ biggest political figures — one who has already run for the White House, the other potentially eyeing a bid of his own — on opposite trajectories.
Abbott, 64, strengthened his position as a potential 2024 presidential contender and secured his place as the state’s second-longest serving governor. He has maximized executive power, stewarding a dramatic $4 billion operation on the U.S.-Mexico border in the name of curbing immigration, all while crushing challengers from his right and spending lavishly to sideline legislative critics.
He will remain buffeted by a solid GOP majority in the Legislature following a victory that aggressively courted Hispanic voters in South Texas and seized on economic anxieties and recession fears. More than 4 in 10 Texas voters rank the economy as the most important issue facing the country, according to AP VoteCast, an expansive survey of almost 3,400 voters.
Evers celebrated victory at The Orpheum Theater in Madison, as he did in 2018.
Michels conceded early Wednesday morning with more than 90% of the expected vote counted. Evers held a 3-point lead. The Associated Press has not yet called the race.
Michels is a construction company co-owner who was backed by former President Donald Trump. He campaigned as a political outsider and wanted to do away with the state’s bipartisan elections commission.
The race was the most expensive in state history and a key one for Democrats ahead of the 2024 presidential election. Evers serves as a block on the Republican-controlled Legislature, vetoing more than 120 bills including measures to make it more difficult to vote absentee.
Republicans were trying to gain a supermajority in the Legislature so they could override Evers’ vetoes.
Michels promised to deliver "massive" tax cuts and largely financed his campaign from his fortune as owner of the state's largest construction firm.
Wisconsin voters are sharply divided over Evers’ job performance, with roughly half saying they approve and an equal proportion disapproving. according to AP VoteCast, an expansive survey of more than 3,200 voters in the state.
About a third of voters said they strongly disapprove of the governor, while about a quarter strongly approve.
But among voters who said they supported their candidate enthusiastically, roughly 6 in 10 backed Evers, while about 4 in 10 said they favored Michels.
Roughly half of Wisconsin voters say the economy is the most pressing issue facing the country.
The Associated Press, FOX 4 News, FOX 6 Now, FOX 29, FOX 2 Detroit, FOX 5 Atlanta, FOX 35 Orlando and FOX 10 Phoenix contributed to this report.