Democrat Josh Shapiro won the governorship of Pennsylvania on Tuesday, defeating a Republican election denier in a presidential battleground state where the governor appoints the official in charge of elections, according to Edison Research.
Shapiro, the state’s attorney general, defeated Republican state Senator Doug Mastriano, who has repeated former President Donald Trump’s false claims about voting fraud and was present at the United States Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021 – the day of a deadly riot – to protest the results of the 2020 presidential election.
Mastriano told supporters late on Tuesday he would respect the election results, but said there were too many votes outstanding and he wanted to see “what the voters have to say.”
The contest was one of 36 state governor’s races held in the U.S. midterm elections on Tuesday, with the future of abortion rights and election oversight at risk in competitive contests around the country.
The high stakes brought increased money and attention to the state-level races, which often get overshadowed in midterm elections by the fight for control of Congress.
The Democratic Party picked up governorships in Massachusetts and Maryland with history-making candidates, while Republican incumbents cruised to victories in marquee races in Florida, Georgia and Texas, Edison Research projected.
In Massachusetts, Democratic Attorney General Maura Healey became the first woman to ascend to that state’s highest office, where she also will be the country’s first openly lesbian governor.
Republican Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who was Trump’s White House press secretary, was elected as Arkansas’ first woman governor.
Another barrier was broken in Maryland, where Democrat Wes Moore became the state’s first African American candidate to win an election for governor.
In New York state, where Republicans last won 20 years ago, Democratic Governor Kathy Hochul survived a challenge from a Republican Lee Zeldin, who campaigned hard on the issue of crime.
Republican incumbents sailed to victory in Georgia, Texas and Florida, states where Democrats had hoped to be more competitive if not pick one off.
Georgia’s Republican governor, Brian Kemp, prevailed against Democratic challenger Stacey Abrams in a rematch of their 2018 race. Abrams’ strong run four years ago made her a Democratic star nationally, but Kemp was ahead by 8 percentage points with 91% of the projected vote counted.
In Texas, Republican Governor Greg Abbott won a third term by 12 points over Democratic challenger Beto O’Rourke, a former U.S. congressman who became a national Democratic figure after a close loss in a Senate race four years ago and a run for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis coasted to re-election, defeating Democratic challenger Charlie Crist by nearly 20 percentage points with 98% of the expected vote counted.
DeSantis, 44, is expected to seek the Republican presidential nomination in 2024. That likelihood has drawn the ire of Republican former President Donald Trump, 76, who has nicknamed him “Ron De-Sanctimonious.”
Trump has said he will make a major announcement next Tuesday, when he is widely expected to declare his candidacy.