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Election Roundup-Big GOP Wins, Gay Marriage, Medical Marijuana

Election night was a big one for Republicans, winning two highly contested governors races from Democrats. And there are key ballot issues dealing with gay marriage and medical marijuana.

In New Jersey, Republican Chris Christie beat out incumbant Democrat Jon Corzine 50%-44%. And in Virginia, GOP Bob McConnell won in a landslide over Democrat Creigh Deeds 59%-41%. President Obama won both states handily a year ago, and Republicans are saying this is a repudiation of Obama's policies, and a preview of things to come in 2010.

But in upstate New York, Democrat Bill Owens defeated Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman 49%-46% in a heavily GOP area in a race that attracted national attention. The moderate Republican candidate Dierdre Scozzafava dropped out over the weekend when high-profile conservatives such as Sarah Palin came out in support of Hoffman.

In New York City, Independent Mike Bloomberg won a controversial third term as mayor, in a surprisingly close race with Democratic challenger Bill Thompson. Despite outspending Thompson by a whopping $80 million, the billionaire mayor only beat Thompson by a margin of 51% to 46%.

People on both sides of the same-sex marriage battle had their eyes on Maine, where voters were asked to either affirm or reject the state's gay marriage law, which the legislature passed earlier this year.?The vote was close, but it appears the opponents have won. With 87% of precincts reporting, 53% voted against the law. This vote is seen as crucial, because same-sex marriage has never won at the ballot box. Gay marriage has now lost in all 31 states where it was put to a vote.

Maine also had a medical marijuana initiative on the ballot. And it's a big victory for pot supporters. With 86% of precincts reporting, 59% voted yes. The proposal would expand the list of conditions that could be treated with medical marijuana, and make it easier to expand the list in the future. It would also create state-licensed dispensaries. The referendum appears headed for passage.

Washington State has a same-sex marriage referendum as well. Earlier this year, what is called an "everything but marriage" bill was signed into law and gave registered domestic partners additional state-granted rights currently given only to married couples. In a vote similar to Maine's, Washington will decide whether to overturn the legislation. Supporters are clinging to a narrow 51%-49% lead with votes still to be counted.


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