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Pence in as governor of Indiana; Hassan wins N.H.

Darron Cummings / AP

Indiana gubernatorial victor Republican Mike Pence speaks to supporters with his family at his side on Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012. Pence defeated Democrat John Gregg and Libertarian Rupert Boneham.

 
Updated Tuesday, 1 p.m. ET to reflect outcome of Montana race for governor.
Rep. Mike Pence, a notable social conservative in Congress clinched the Indiana state house in a race against Democrat John Gregg, a former Indiana House speaker. Pence will take the seat vacated by Gov. Mitch Daniels, who is up against term limits.
Pence is known, among other things, for his outspoken views against Planned Parenthood, which he sought to strip of funding, not just for abortion but for all functions.
In 11 governor’s races around the country, Republican candidates gained at least one state house for their party, bringing the total to 30. In one state, Washington, the outcome of the gubernatorial race was still too close to call at 1 p.m. ET.

In North Carolina, Pat McCrory, a former Charlotte mayor, won the seat being vacated by Gov. Bev Perdue, becoming the first Republican to hold that office in 20 years.

McCrory, who cast himself as a pragmatic centrist, defeated Democratic Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton, to replace the Perdue whose administration was sullied by an investigation that led to charges against her former campaign aides.

Becoming the first Republican governor in North Carolina in 20 years, Pat McCrory thanks his supporters.

It took until noon on Wednesday before the outcome of race in Montana was determined. Democrat Steve Bullock, the state's attorney general defeated rival Rick Hill, a Republican who formerly served in the House. With 83 percent of the vote counted, Bullock had 49 percent compared to Hill's 47 percent.

Just weeks before voting day, a legal battle erupted over a $500,000 donation to Hill from the Republican Governors Association, and a judge's order barring him from using it.

The donation came after a federal judge ruled that Montana’s campaign contribution limits were unconstitutionally low on Oct. 3, and before the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals blocked that ruling on Oct. 9, restoring the limits pending appeal.

The legal distraction may have tipped the balance towards Bullock.

Democrat Margaret "Maggie" Hassan clinched the governorship in New Hampshire Tuesday in a hard-fought race, retaining the seat for her party. It was one seat that Republicans had hoped to add to their state house seats.

Cheryl Senter / AP file

Democrat Maggie Hassan is shown addressing supporters in Manchester, N.H. on Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2012.

Hassan defeated Republican Ovide Lamontagne by a greater margin that pundits predicted in a race dominated by taxes and social issues, for the seat of Gov. John Lynch, a retiring Democrat.

Both Hassan and Lamontagne's campaigns attempted to portray their competitors as ideological extremists on social issues including abortion and same sex marriage, but both had to court the independent voters who account for 39 percent of the electorate in that state, according to the Union Leader.

Hassan, who is pro-choice and supports same sex marriage, received millions of dollars worth of help in attacking her rival from groups such as EMILY's List, Planned Parenthood Action and NARAL, the Leader reported. Polls indicated the attacks created, or widened, a significant gender gap between the two candidates, according to the report.

Six incumbent governors were projected winners, including two Republicans and four Democrats: Gov. Jack Dalrymple (R) of North Dakota, Utah Gov. Gary Herbert (R), Gov. Jack Markell (D) of Delaware, Gov. Peter Shumlin (D) of Vermont, and Gov. Jay Nixon (D) of Missouri. West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin (D) also retained his seat. Tomblin became governor in 2010 after then-Gov. Joe Manchin resigned. He defeated coal businessman William "Bill" Maloney.

Nail-biters in Montana, Washington 
Washington state was the only gubernatorial race too close to call as of noon on Wednesday.

In Washington, the race was neck-and-neck heading into the final stretch between former Washington Attorney General Rob McKenna, a Republican, and former Rep. Jay Inslee, the Democrat.

Although Washington voters had not elected a Republican governor since 1980, the seat being vacated by retiring Gov. Christine Gregoire is hotly contested, and witnessed a large influx of outside money.

According to the Seattle Times, the race was expected to cost more than $46 million, with the single biggest share of spending coming from out-of-state interest groups.

Both candidates put job creation at the top of their to-do lists.

Inslee touted his jobs-creation program based on green energy technology, was pro-choice and favored Obama’s health care plan.

McKenna ran on creating jobs by cutting red tape and taxes for the state’s business owners.

Republicans controlled 29 governorships going into Tuesday's elections, with Democrats holding 20 and an independent as governor in one — Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island. If the GOP wins in Washington, the party would be in charge of 31 state houses.

Kate Hansen, a spokeswoman for the Democratic Governors Association, acknowledged that this is a tough year for Democrats, since they had more seats to defend.

"We're pleased with the shape of the more competitive tossup races going into the homestretch — because we have excellent candidates focused on creating jobs and expanding opportunity, and we've made smart and early investments throughout the year," Hansen said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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