GOP governors minimize Trump impact on midterm losses

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, right, speaks as Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey listens during the Republican Governors Association annual conference, Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2018, in Scottsdale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Matt York)

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) — Republican governors are minimizing any suggestion that voter discontent with President Donald Trump played a role in the midterm elections, where Democrats flipped seven governorships, took control of the U.S. House and picked up hundreds of state legislative seats.

“I don’t think what you saw in this electoral cycle was any different that would you see” in any midterm, said Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts during the Republican Governors Association meeting Wednesday in suburban Phoenix.

Ricketts noted that two years after Democrat Barack Obama was elected president, the GOP gained more than 60 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey called the Republican losses a “somewhat predictable” result of having a GOP president in power.

Ducey, Ricketts and other recently re-elected GOP governors including Greg Abbott of Texas, Larry Hogan of Maryland, Charlie Baker of Massachusetts and Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas didn’t even mention Trump during a panel discussion.

While the governors didn’t blame Trump, other Republicans have said his divisive rhetoric hurt the party, especially in suburban areas. Utah Rep. Mia Love, the only black Republican woman in Congress, said after her House defeat that Trump’s statements reflected her party’s failure to embrace minority communities.

Some of the biggest upsets in the gubernatorial elections were in the Midwest, with Democrats defeating Bruce Rauner in Illinois and Scott Walker in Wisconsin while capturing open seats held by Republicans in Michigan and Kansas. Democrats also flipped control of governors’ offices being vacated by Republicans in Maine, Nevada and New Mexico.

Come January, there will be 27 Republican governors across the country.

Ricketts held out hope for GOP gains in some of the 14 gubernatorial races in the next two years. “We’ve demonstrated we can win in adverse environments and what are considered deep blue states in regards to Massachusetts and Maryland,” Ricketts said.

Ducey acknowledged the governors association was “a very important part of our campaign” in his re-election victory. The association spent millions on attack ads targeting Ducey’s Democratic challenger David Garcia, portraying him as a political radical who was weak on immigration and border issues.

The association’s annual conference wrapped up Thursday.

Copyright © 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.