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Gubernatorial Battles: Republican Takes N.C., Democrat Wins N.H.

Voters in North Carolina put a Republican in their governor's office for the first time in two decades, and New Hampshire elected a new female Democratic governor.

But the closely watched tossup races in Montana and Washington, where Democrats currently serve as governors, remained too close to call late Tuesday.

Eight of the gubernatorial seats up for grabs are now held by Democrats; three are in Republican hands. Republicans currently hold 29 governorships, Democrats have 20, and Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee is an independent.

Republican Pat McCrory captured the North Carolina governor's office from Democratic control four years after he lost a close race to Democrat Beverly Perdue. She decided against a second run.

In New Hampshire, state Sen. Maggie Hassan kept that state's gubernatorial office in Democratic hands, defeating Tea Party conservative Ovide Lamontagne. It's his second unsuccessful run for governor; he also lost a bid for the Senate two years ago.

Republican Rep. Mike Pence of Indiana is that state's new governor.

And incumbent governors in six states won re-election: Republican Jack Dalrymple in North Dakota and Gary Herbert in Utah; and Democrats Peter Shumlin in Vermont, Jack Markell in Delaware, Jay Nixon in Missouri and Earl Ray Tomblin in West Virginia.

In Montana, popular Democratic Gov. Brian Schweitzer — he won his last election with 65 percent of the vote — has reached his two-term limit. The state's Democratic Attorney General Steve Bullock is trying to keep the seat in his party's column by associating himself with Schweitzer's legacy. He's in a tough race with former two-term GOP Rep. Rick Hill.

Washington's governorship has been in Democratic hands for 32 years, and former U.S. Rep. Jay Inslee is in a dead-heat battle to keep it that way. His opponent is the state's Republican Attorney General Rob McKenna.

McKenna has a proven ability to win statewide, but working in Inslee's favor is the popularity of Obama, who easily captured the state Tuesday.

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Liz Halloran joined NPR in December 2008 as Washington correspondent for Digital News, taking her print journalism career into the online news world.