WASHINGTON -- Democrats won two of the three big Sun Belt state elections for governor Tuesday in Florida and Texas, but the biggest prize of them all, California, got away.
Former Sen. Lawton Chiles dumped Republican Gov. Bob Martinez in Florida and Democratic state Treasurer Ann Richards defeated Republican millionaire William Clayton in Texas to succeed GOP Gov. William Clements.
But Sen. Pete Wilson, a moderate-conservative Republican, downed former San Francisco Mayor Dianne Feinstein, allowing the GOP to hold on to the governor's mansion in the nation's largest state.
The Arizona race was headed for a runoff between Democrat Terry Goddard and Republican Fife Symington, according to the Republican Governors' Association.
Although Symington led 522,294 to 517,767 with 99 percent of the precincts counted, state law requires a winner to get 50 percent of the vote plus one that the Republican candidate did not get.
While changes were minimal in Senate and House elections, there were a number of upsets and numerous close races for governor in every area of the country.
Going into the election, Democrats held the governship in 20 states and the Republicans in 16. The others were not at stake.
Although the reasons varied from state to state, governors who raised taxes, such as Martinez, appeared to be the most vulnerable.
The election of governors was crucial for both the Democrats and Republicans because the winners will have veto power over congressional redistricting in the coming year based on the 1990 census.
Although the actual drafting of the new districts will be the work of the state legislatures, governors have a major say and Republicans were banking heavily on holding on to Florida and Texas.
The failure to hold those two governships could make it even more difficult for Republicans to capture control of the House, which they last had in 1953.
Underscoring the importance of the gubernatorial races, President Bush campaigned hard on several trips for Martinez and Williams, as he did for Wilson in California.
Republicans won back some ground when former Cleveland Mayor George Voinovich beat Attorney General Anthony Celebrezze for Ohio's governship now held by Democrat Richard Celeste.
Former U.S. Attorney William Weld upset Democrat John Silber, outspoken president of Boston University, succeeding Democratic Gov. Michael Dukakis who did not seek re-election in Massachusetts, costing the Democrats one of their bastion states.
And in another large state, Illinois, Secretary of State Jim Edgar held the governorship for the Republicans, beating Attorney General Neil Hartigan. Gov. Jim Thompson, a Republican, did not seek a fifth term.
Some of the closest races took place in the Midwest states of Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Kansas.
In a razor-thin race in Michigan, John Engler, leader of the state Senate's Republicans, defeated incumbent Democrat James Blanchard who was seeking a third term. In Nebraska, Omaha attorney Ben Nelson barely defeated Republican Gov. Kay Orr.
With 96 percent of the vote counted in Minnesota, last-minute substitute Arne Carlson, the state auditor, defeated Democratic incumbent Gov. Rudy Perpich, 51 percent to 49 percent. With 96 percent of the vote counted, Carlson had 761,239 votes to Perpich's 740,435.
But Democrats swept through Kansas with State Treasurer John Finney beating incumbent Republican Gov. Mike Hayden, and through Oklahoma where Democrat David Walters, making his second run, beat Republican U.S. Attorney Bill Price to replace GOP Gov. Henry Bellmon.
They also picked off a Republican governship in Rhode Island where Democrat Bruce Sundlun, in his second try, dumped Republican Gov. Ed DiPrete, but lost Vermont when former Republican Gov. Dick Snelling beat Democrat Peter Welch.
Even New York Gov. Mario Cuomo, one of the Democrats' premier vote getters, came in for a shock, winning with only about 53 percent of the vote. In Connecticut, former Republican Sen. Lowell Weicker beat both the Republican and Democratic candidates.
In Maine, Republican incumbent John McKernan defeated Democratic challenger Joseph Brennan.
In other states, incumbents won re-election, some by narrow margins and others by lopsided counts.