Who Won? Who Lost? 2015 Statewide Race Results

Republicans took the night’s biggest prize, but Democrats also notched some victories.
by | November 4, 2015
Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant, a Republican, easily won a second term Tuesday. (AP/Rogelio V. Solis)

This is part of 2015 elections coverage. Get results of other ballot measures and races.

In an off-year election, there weren’t many races on the ballot and turnout was low, but both parties could find something to be pleased about.

Republicans took the night’s biggest prize -- Kentucky governor -- and maintained control of the hotly contested state Senate in Virginia.

But Democrats also notched some victories, including the defense of two other statewide offices in Kentucky and the Mississippi attorney general’s office, as well as wins in three Pennsylvania supreme court races.

Here’s a rundown of some of the major statewide results from the Nov. 3 elections:

Kentucky

Despite an underwhelming campaign, Tea Party-aligned Republican Matt Bevin defeated Democrat Jack Conway with surprising ease, seizing an open-seat governorship held by outgoing Democrat Steve Beshear. Not only was Bevin’s contest the night’s most closely watched race, but his victory sets up a high-profile challenge to Kentucky’s prior expansion of health-care coverage under the Affordable Care Act.

Further down the ballot, the Democrats -- who had had a longstanding edge in statewide contests in Kentucky even as federal races increasingly tilted Republican -- saw two of their statewide offices flip to the Republicans. One was in the race for state auditor, which, beyond Bevin’s victory, ranks as the most significant GOP win in Kentucky. State Rep. Mike Harmon defeated Democratic incumbent Adam Edelen, who had been pegged for future bids for higher office, something that his loss will inevitably call into question. And in the open-seat state treasurer’s race, Republican attorney Allison Ball defeated Democratic state Rep. Rick Nelson with surprising ease. As expected, the open agriculture commissioner seat remained in GOP hands, with Republican state Rep. Ryan Quarles defeating Democrat Jean-Marie Lawson Spann.

On the other hand, two Democrats were able to defy Bevin’s gubernatorial headwind -- as well as the general challenge of running as a Democrat in today’s South. Both won by narrow margins but won nonetheless. Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes -- who in 2014 lost a high-profile bid against GOP Sen. Mitch McConnell -- won another term as secretary of state against Republican Stephen Knipper. And in an exceedingly close race, Democrat Andy Beshear -- son of the popular outgoing governor -- appears to have won an open-seat race for attorney general against GOP state Sen. Whitney Westerfield.

The bottom line: It was an awful night for Kentucky Democrats, but it could have been a lot worse.

Mississippi

As expected, the GOP swept to easy victories in most statewide races, including the governorship, as Phil Bryant won a second term against minor opposition.

But state attorney general Jim Hood -- a rare Democratic statewide elected official in the Deep South -- held off a challenge by Republican Mike Hurst, winning by a 56 percent-44 percent margin.

Virginia

Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe had hoped to flip the one state Senate seat necessary to give his party control of the chamber, but it appears that Republicans have kept every seat they needed to maintain their narrow majority -- and keep blocking the governor’s agenda.

Members of the state House were also up for election, but as expected, the GOP was able to keep their majority.

Pennsylvania

One of the most underappreciated contests going into the election -- but potentially one of the most consequential over the long term -- was the Democratic sweep of three seats on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. 

The three Democratic winners were Superior Court Judge Christine Donohue, Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas Judge Kevin Dougherty and Superior Court Judge David Wecht. They are expected to give a strong Democratic tilt to a court that prior to the election had consisted of two Democrats, two Republicans and two vacant seats.

Democrats “may very well control the court for years as a result of this contest,” wrote PoliticsPA.

This is part of 2015 elections coverage. Get results of other ballot measures and races.