Voters returned Lisa Murkowski to the U.S. Senate despite widespread unhappiness about how she got there in the first place.
Murkowski, 47, became Alaska's first senator born in the state when she was appointed by her father, Frank H. Murkowski, to take his seat after he was elected governor. The younger Murkowski, a Georgetown graduate and lawyer, had served two two-year terms in Alaska's House and had just been reelected to a third.
The appointment rankled self-reliant Alaskans and became even less palatable as Frank Murkowski's popularity plummeted when he cut the state budget. The younger Murkowski's campaign signs became a kind of political eye chart, with her first name in big letters and her last name in small ones.
But Democratic hopes that Tony Knowles, popular former Anchorage mayor and two-term governor, would beat Murkowski proved evanescent. She won with 49 percent of the vote to Knowles's 45 percent.
President Bush carried the state with 62 percent of the vote.
"We've had some good news across the country tonight -- we're talking about ANWR," the Anchorage Daily News quoted Murkowski as saying as she watched the vote tally at a restaurant with her family. She was referring to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, which she hopes will be opened for oil and gas drilling -- a position also held by her opponent.
Alaska's ballot featured the broadest of several initiatives around the country that would permit use of marijuana under certain circumstances. Alaskans were asked whether they wanted to make it fully legal for people older than age 21 to "grow, use, sell or give away marijuana and hemp products" (which could, however, be regulated like alcohol or tobacco).
They answered no, 57 percent to 43 percent.
Kerry carried California 55 percent to 44 percent. Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer, who began her "victory tour" before Election Day, saw her confidence pay off with a 58 percent to 38 percent win over Republican former secretary of state Bill Jones.
Former state attorney general Dan Lungren took the Sacramento area House seat vacated by fellow Republican Doug Ose with 62 percent of the vote.
Similarly, former state senator Jim Costa, a Democrat, took the Hanford area seat previously held by the retiring Calvin M. Dooley, also a Democrat. Costa beat Roy Ashburn, a Republican state senator, with 54 percent of the vote.
Kerry beat Bush handily in Oregon, with 52 percent of the vote. Minor-party candidates took only 1 percent of total votes, and Ralph Nader, who won 5 percent in 2000, was not even on the ballot.
Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden, as anticipated, was easily reelected, getting twice as many votes as Republican Al King.
In House seats, the only uncertainty was whether Democrat David Wu, who has represented Portland and northwest Oregon for three terms, would be reelected.
According to news reports, a former girlfriend claimed Wu tried to rape her in 1976 when he was in college. The congressman said he regretted his behavior but noted he was never charged with a crime. In Tuesday's voting, he beat Republican Goli Ameri, an Iranian-born woman who founded a telecommunications market research firm. She got 38 percent of the vote to Wu's 58.
Kerry beat Bush by 52 percent to 46 percent here, in a win that presaged other important Democratic victories in Washington. Nader took less than 1 percent.
The race for the governorship was essentially tied, with Republican former state senator Dino Rossi fewer than a thousand votes ahead of Democratic state Attorney General Christine O. Gregoire. Only 70 percent of about 2.8 million votes cast had been counted as of late yesterday, however. Hundreds of thousands of mail-in ballots were outstanding and unlikely to be counted until the end of the week. In addition, tens of thousands of provisional ballots may not be counted for up to two weeks.
Democratic Sen. Patty Murray handily turned back a challenge from Republican Rep. George R. Nethercutt, beating him 55 percent to 43 percent. Nethercutt came to prominence in 1994 when he defeated U.S. House Speaker Thomas S. Foley (D), the first overthrow of a sitting speaker since 1860.
In Seattle's Battle of the Daves, Republican county sheriff Dave Reichert beat radio talk show host and Democrat Dave Ross, 52 percent to 47 percent. The race was expected to be much closer.
Cathy McMorris, a Republican state representative, beat businessman and Democrat Don Barbieri 60 percent to 40 percent for the Spokane area seat Nethercutt vacated to run for the Senate.
A state thought to be in reach of Bush in the waning weeks of the campaign, Hawaii offered no surprises this year.
Kerry carried the Pacific island chain with 54 percent of the vote to Bush's 45. Democratic Sen. Daniel K. Inouye won an eighth term with 76 percent of the vote over Republican former state representative Cam Cavasso. The state's two congressmen, both Democrats, Neil Abercrombie and Ed Case, each won with 63 percent of the votes in their districts.