Lingering uncertainty in Massachusetts, Connecticut on governors

Reuters News
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Posted: Nov 05, 2014 9:12 AM

By Scott Malone

BOSTON (Reuters) - Voters in Massachusetts and Connecticut faced lingering uncertainty on Wednesday about who will lead their states for the next four years, with final results of their governors' races not yet clear.

Results in Alaska and Colorado were also unclear the day after the election as ballots continued to be counted, and results in Vermont still required state lawmakers to act.

Massachusetts Republican Charlie Baker, who media projected as having won election by a narrow margin, was holding off on claiming victory until rival Democrat Martha Coakley, the state's attorney general, conceded defeat.

In neighboring Connecticut, incumbent Democrat Dannel Malloy had provisionally declared victory early Wednesday morning though challenger Republican businessman Thomas Foley had not yet given up hope.

"We actually are not sure we've lost the race in the same way he's actually not sure he's won the race," Foley told reporters early Wednesday morning. "We probably have lost this race, but I'm not going to confirm until we are sure."

Candidates in both states tacked toward the middle politically, with Baker, the former chief executive of a New England health insurance company, focusing on plans to boost Massachusetts already healthy economy and improve its education system, in his second shot at the governorship.

"Charlie Baker played the classic moderate Republican card in Massachusetts," said Jeffrey Berry, a professor of political science at Tufts University outside Boston. "He came across as a very reasonable moderate who could work across the aisle with the Democrats."

While Massachusetts is a heavily Democratic state, Baker is the fifth Republican to hold its top office in the past 20 years. Mitt Romney, the failed 2012 presidential candidate, served as the state's governor before incumbent Democrat Deval Patrick, who opted not to seek a third term in office.

Baker also benefited from a national swing towards Republicans, who took a majority in the U.S. Senate on Tuesday and won key governors' races in Florida, Michigan and Wisconsin.

In the Connecticut rematch between Malloy and Foley, the incumbent also benefited from a healthy state economy, where the unemployment rate has dropped steadily over the past four years, though at 6.4 percent it remains higher than the national average.

Both Malloy and Baker received support from former New York City mayor and billionaire Michael Bloomberg, who pumped a total of $20 million into governors races in Massachusetts, Connecticut, Colorado, Rhode Island and Michigan, his advisor Howard Wolfson said in an e-mail.

In Vermont, incumbent Democrat Peter Shumlin failed to win the support of more than half of voters in a multi-candidate race, leaving it to the state's Democratic-controlled legislature to formally name him as the state's next governor in January.

Officials in Colorado and Alaska were also counting ballots on tight races.

(Reporting by Scott Malone)