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Elections update: Two states flip, an incumbent loses, women gain two more governor seats, and ballot initiatives called

November 17, 2022
By: Laura Lacy Graham

Thirty-six states held gubernatorial contests in Tuesday’s (Nov. 8) mid-term elections. By the end of the last week, winners in 32 states had been chosen. As of today, contests in Arizona, Nevada and Oregon have been called; while votes continued to be tallied in Alaska, which held its first ranked choice general election. Gov. Mike Dunleavy maintains a substantial lead and appears he will be re-elected. As such, Dunleavy will be the first governor to be elected to back-to-back terms in the state since former Democratic Gov. Tony Knowles won reelection in 1998. Results from gubernatorial elections and ballot measures that were not available at last week’s writing are detailed below.

With the elections finalized in Arizona and Oregon, the new year will see 12 states headed by a female governor; Oregon’s Gov.-elect Tina Kotek will join Gov.-elect Maura Healey in Massachusetts as one of the first openly lesbian governors.

Democrats were able to flip Arizona, Maryland and Massachusetts, while the GOP flipped Nevada. Republicans will maintain a slight advantage with 26 states having a GOP governor in January. (Before the mid-term election, Republicans held 28 states.) Twenty-four states will be led by a Democrat in the new year.

SSTI previously reported on many of the candidates’ innovation and technology-based economic development platforms prior to the election. The following updates the unofficial election results from last week’s elections, and provides a preview of policy priorities or actions involving science, technology, innovation and entrepreneurship each governor may take in their new or next terms (to the extent those positions were spelled out).


On Nov. 14, the Associated Press called the Arizona open gubernatorial seat for Democratic Secretary of State Katie Hobbs. As governor, Hobbs seeks to implement her campaign platform, including leading her state’s transition to a sustainable clean energy economy. Hobbs is advocating for establishing a Water and Energy Innovation Initiative, which would be tasked with securing the state’s water supply and advancing a clean energy economy in partnership with state agencies, businesses, underserved communities, and tribal communities. The initiative would also be tasked with diversifying the state’s energy infrastructure, and work towards being carbon-free energy by 2050. Additionally, Gov.-elect Hobbs seeks greater investment in minority businesses and expanding diversity in STEM jobs.

Other election results that were finalized in the state showed that Arizona’s Proposition 308, allowing in-state tuition for non-citizen residents, was approved with 51.23% of the voters supporting the measure. The proposition repeals part of a voter-approved initiative from 2006 that prevents non-citizens from receiving that aid.  In another close vote, Proposition 132 requiring a 60% vote for voters to pass ballot measures to approve taxes was approved with 50.71% voting yes to a 49.29% no vote.


Clark County Sheriff and Republican candidate Joe Lombardo was projected to have defeated incumbent Gov. Steve Sisolak in one of the closest races for governor. Sisolak, who in 2018 was the first Democrat elected governor in more than two decades, will become the 13th governor in the state’s history to lose a bid for re-election, and the first Democrat to lose a gubernatorial re-election bid since 1967. As governor, Lombardo will work towards a greater diversification of Nevada’s economy from the gaming and tourism sector towards new industries like manufacturing and technology. For such sector transformation, he seeks greater investment in building a skilled Nevada workforce and will call for more workforce development programs in the state’s public education system and for partnerships with the private sector to enhance existing programs. Additionally, a priority of the new Lombardo administration will be to make Nevada a regional leader in skilled industries such as welding, robotics, and coding.

Nevada voters also supported (52.86% to 47.14%) Question 3, which would establish open top-five primaries and ranked-choice voting for general elections (congressional, gubernatorial, state executive officials, and state legislative elections). The measure was an initiated constitutional amendment in the state, meaning it needs to be approved in two even-numbered election years leaving Question 3 to be considered again on the Nov. 5, 2024 ballot.


Former Oregon state House speaker, Tina Kotek, was able to retain the Democrats’ 36-year hold on the governorship in the race for the open seat, when she was projected to have won the nation’s first three-way race comprised entirely of female candidates. As governor, Kotek said she will prioritize issues of justice, equity, and opportunity for Oregonians. Her administration will work to improve access to training and education through community colleges, grow state-certified pre-apprenticeship and apprenticeship programs, and make greater investments in programs that provide opportunities for women, veterans, and historically disadvantaged communities. Kotek plans to seek collaboration and partnerships with local governments and business leaders to address and close the digital divide, ensuring that every Oregonian has access to reliable and affordable broadband or high-speed internet.

Arizona, Nevada, Oregonelections, states, governors