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DGA sees positives in 2010 results

1. Democratic Governors Association executive director Nathan Daschle claims in a memo set to be released this morning that his committee not only averted electoral disaster last week but managed to over-perform expectations in gubernatorial races across the country.

"The DGA's solid performance in the face of the worst environment in generations was neither an accident nor a coincidence, but the result of careful planning, smart investments and an aggressive 2010 election strategy," writes Daschle, noting that the Republican Governors Association had claimed prior to election day that the goal was to control 30 states when all was said and done.

Republicans will control 29 states while Democrats will hold 18 and an independent -- former Sen. Lincoln Chafee -- will be the governor of Rhode Island.

The two disputed governors races -- in Connecticut and Minnesota -- have Democrats in the lead. (See more below.) If both races fall their way, the party will net two more seats as each states is currently represented by a Republican governor.

Three states -- Vermont, Hawaii and California -- have already gone from Republican to Democratic control while the GOP flipped 10 states: Maine, Iowa, Florida, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Ohio, Kansas, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Wyoming.

Daschle's argument is that half of the 10 states the GOP flipped were not contested and that in the 22 states where both committees spent $500,000 or more the DGA won 11 of them and the RGA won 10.

Of course, as we have written many times in this space, winning a majority of governorships is far less meaningful than doing the same thing in the House or Senate. Large population states matter more at the gubernatorial level -- and that's especially true given that the decennial redistricting process set for next year.

By that measure, it's hard not to see the RGA as a winner since they held onto Republican-held states like Florida and Texas and flipped Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Texas is slated to gain four congressional districts next year while Florida will add two. Ohio and Pennsylvania are projected to lose seats.

So, was the DGA or the RGA the big winner last Tuesday? That depends on how you define winning. The DGA deserves credit for turning a handful of Republican seats in a brutal political environment but the RGA's victories in large states could well have the more lasting impact as redistricting approaches.

2. Former Ambassador Tom Foley (R) will make an announcement at 1 p.m. today about the Connecticut governor's race -- an announcement that is likely end questions about whether he plans to pursue a lawsuit disputing the result.

Foley trails Stamford Mayor Dan Malloy (D) by more than 5,600 votes, but he and other Republicans have raised questions about how ballots were handled in Bridgeport, an area that delivered Malloy a huge margin and swung the race in the Democrat's favor. The Associated Press initially called the race for Malloy, then took that call back, then re-called it for the Democrat on Friday.

Foley has until Nov. 16 to file a lawsuit to get the result overturned. The margin right now is outside of the 2,000-vote threshold for an automatic recount, but a judge could overturn the result if a legal challenge is found to have merit.

Republicans are also alleging irregularities in the Minnesota governor's race, where GOP nominee Tom Emmer trails former Sen. Mark Dayton (D) by more than 9,000 votes and is exploring his legal options.

Officials in Democratic-leaning Hennepin County briefly inflated Dayton's lead when votes were being tallied Tuesday, and Republicans have sought to cast doubt on the integrity of the vote-counting.

The result is currently inside the threshold for a recount - a recount that would begin Nov. 29 and end Dec. 14, according to a proposal from the secretary of state's office.

The only undecided Senate race is in Alaska, where the counting of write-in votes is set to begin Wednesday.

Republican nominee Joe Miller is reportedly raising questions about Lt. Gov. Craig Campbell's (R) stewardship of the write-in counting process, alleging Campbell is biased in Sen. Lisa Murkowski's (R) favor.

Miller currently has 13,000 fewer votes than write-in candidates, with the vast majority of those write-in votes expected to go to Murkowski who ran as a write-in following her defeat at the hands of Miller in an Aug. 24 primary.

3. Eight Democratic-held House races remain uncalled by the Associated Press nearly a week after Election Day although the party got a rare bit of good news late Friday when Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D) won reelection in Arizona's 8th District.

With 100 percent of precincts reporting, Giffords bested Republican Jesse Kelly by 3,641 votes out of more than 273,000 cast. In an email conceding the race, Kelly wrote that "while we fell short here in District 8, Tuesday was a resounding victory for America," adding that "the citizens of this nation overwhelming chose limited government, fiscal sanity, and free market solutions."

But, Democrats suffered a setback in New York's 1st district where a ballot snafu took a race that had been called for Rep. Tim Bishop (D) and threw it into uncertainty. Although Bishop led 51 percent to 49 percent over Randy Altshuler (R) with 100 percent of precincts reporting, the local elections board has said a reporting error was made and that it is the Republican who is actually in the lead.

Meanwhile, in North Carolina's 2nd District, Rep. Bob Etheridge (D) may request a recount in his race against Republican Renee Ellmers, who currently leads by a slim margin. Official totals are slated to be tallied by Nov. 12, and if Ellmers' margin of victory is less than one percentage point, Etheridge will be entitled to ask for a recount. The AP has already called the race for Ellmers.

Here are updates on the eight races that remain uncalled:

* In Texas' 27th District, Rep. Solomon Ortiz (D) will request a recount in his race against Republican challenger Blake Farenthold. Farenthold currently leads by 799 votes, according to unofficial results.

* In Kentucky's 6th District, Rep. Ben Chandler (D) leads GOP challenger Andy Barr by just over 600 votes; Barr has requested a re-canvass, which will take place Nov. 12.

* In Illinois' 8th District, where the ballot count has been proceeding slowly, officials suspended tallying the vote over the weekend and are slated to resume today. Businessman Joe Walsh (R) was leading Rep. Melissa Bean (D) by 350 votes as of Friday.

* In New York's 25th District, election officials say it may be two weeks or more before a winner is declared in the neck-and-neck contest between Rep. Dan Maffei (D) and Republican Ann Marie Buerkle as absentees continue to trickle in. Buerkle currently has a narrow lead.

* In California's 11th District, Rep. Jerry McNerney (D) widened his lead over Republican David Harmer to 548 votes late Friday, although both sides are gearing up for a potential court fight as the absentee count progresses.

* In California's 20th District, Republican Andy Vidak's lead over Rep. Jim Costa (D) has been whittled down to 648 votes. Thousands of provisional and absentee ballots have yet to be counted.

* In Washington's 2nd District, Rep. Rick Larsen (D) lead over Republican John Koster grew to 3,841 votes as of Saturday night, giving the incumbent his widest margin yet.

* And in Virginia's 11th District, Rep. Gerry Connolly (D) claimed victory Friday with vote totals showing him ahead of businessman Keith Fimian (R) by 968 votes, although the AP has yet to call the race.

4. In his first Sunday show appearance since announcing last week he will step down as House Republican Conference Chairman, Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.) indicated that any decision about his future presidential, er, political ambitions will come after the year is out.

"My family and I are going to take our time to prayerfully consider ways that we can serve our state and serve our nation in the years ahead," Pence said during an appearance on ABC's "This Week," adding that he'll make a decision about a presidential run "after the first of the year."

Pence's remarks came days after the congressman announced he'll be addressing the Detroit Economic Club on Nov. 29, a high-profile event that is clearly aimed at increasing Pence's prominence on the national stage.

Meanwhile, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R), whose outspoken style has garnered him plenty of positive attention among conservatives since he won election last year, ruled out a 2012 presidential run in an appearance on NBC's "Meet the Press."

Christie did leave some wiggle room for 2016, though, noting that he's "going to need a job" after 2013 -- if, of course, he loses a reelection bid.

5. Got plans tonight? Cancel them!

It's the post-election "Politics and Pints" -- our monthly trivia contest full of fun and prizes for the whole family. (Ok, that may be a slight exaggeration.)

It gets started at 7 pm tonight at the Capitol Lounge in D.C. So, bring your friends -- heck, bring your enemies -- and get ready for a night of political (and other) trivia.

Make sure to RSVP on our Facebook event page so we know you're coming!

With Aaron Blake and Felicia Sonmez

By Chris Cillizza  | November 8, 2010; 6:00 AM ET
Categories:  Morning Fix  
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Next: Could Christine O'Donnell have won?

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