Oregon gubernatorial candidate John Kitzhaber, the state's Democratic former two-term governor hoping to return after a seven-year hiatus, was declared the winner over Republican Chris Dudley Wednesday night.
According to unofficial returns, Kitzhaber won 664,845 votes, or 48.74 percent, compared to Dudley's 659,362 votes, or 48.34 percent.
The Oregon contest was among a handful of key midterm races that went down to the wire. On Wednesday night, two U.S. Senate races, three governorships and a handful of congressional races remained undecided.
In Washington state, Sen. Patty Murray, regarded as one of the most endangered Senate Democrats, was leading Republican Dino Rossi by a 51-to-49 percent margin. But in a state that votes largely by mail, it could take several days before the tallies are completed.
Senate results in Alaska
were also far from definitive. Write-in candidate Sen. Lisa Murkowski was leading Republican Joe Miller 41 percent to 34 percent, with Democrat Scott McAdams pulling most of the remaining votes. Whether Murkowski can lay claim to re-election will take at least a few days to determine.
Early voting by mail and no-fault absentee balloting in some states guaranteed that it would take election officials a while to sort and count ballots.
In gubernatorial contests, a recount appeared likely in Minnesota
-- a state that suffered through a months-long dispute over the Norm Coleman/Al Franken Senate race in 2008 -- where former Sen. Mark Dayton held a lead of roughly 9,000 votes over Republican Tom Emmer.
Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn clung to an 8,000 vote lead Wednesday over Republican Bill Brady, but the rivals were knotted percentage wise at 46 percent each. "I believe we have won," the governor said
just before 1 a.m. Wednesday.
And in Connecticut, results of the governor's race between Democrat Dannel Malloy and Republican Tom Foley were still up in the air.
Maine Republican Paul LePage, with a 7,500-vote lead, looked like a late winner for governor over independent Eliot Cutler, who has conceded, according to the Bangor Daily News.
In the Vermont governor's race, Democrats claimed victory after Republican Brian Dubie conceded to Peter Shumlin.
Colorado's tight Senate race is finally decided. Sen. Michael Bennet held onto a 15,000-vote lead over tea party Republican Ken Buck. The Denver Post called the race Wednesday afternoon, followed by The Associated Press.
The conservative Buck was ahead past the midnight hour on Election Day, but dropped back as returns from Boulder and Denver rolled in. Before making a speech Wednesday, Bennet declared victory on his Facebook page. "Thank you to everyone who made this victory possible," he wrote. Bennet was appointed to succeed Ken Salazar -- President Obama's secretary of the interior.
In Florida, Democrat Alex Sink conceded the governor's contest Wednesday morning to Republican businessman Rick Scott. It was a marquee victory for Republicans in Florida, adding the Sunshine State to Texas, Ohio and Pennsylvania, where GOP gubernatorial candidates also prevailed. Scott will succeed moderate Gov. Charlie Crist, who lost his race for the Senate as an independent. Scott led Sink by 50,000 votes out of more than 5 million cast, the Washington Post reported.