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Democrats win big prizes in US state legislatures

CHICAGO, Nov 5 (Reuters) - Democrats won some big prizes in U.S. state legislative elections, gaining control of chambers in New York, Wisconsin, Ohio, Delaware, and Nevada, a bipartisan group said on Wednesday.

But Republicans also enjoyed victories in Tuesday’s election, taking both chambers in Tennessee and winning control of the state senate in Montana and Oklahoma.

“It’s a bit of a stalemate,” said Tim Storey, an elections analyst at the National Conference of State Legislatures who said the election gave both parties “something to crow about.”

Legislative races that could change party control of chambers in Montana, Indiana, Alaska and Texas were too close to call, according to the bipartisan group, which was tracking election results.

Democrats’ win of the New York Senate, which Republicans have held since 1966, marks the first time since 1935 that Democrats control both the legislature and the governor’s office in that state, Storey said.

The state elections will figure into the redistricting process that allows legislatures to redo the borders of congressional districts, giving whichever party is in control the upper hand. Voters on Tuesday elected 642 state senators who will remain in office when redistricting, based on the 2010 census, begins in 2011, according to the conference.

Tuesday’s election decided 79 percent of all legislative seats. Democrats held the majority at almost 54 percent prior to the vote in which 5,824 legislative seats in 44 states were on the ballot.

Heading into the election, Democrats controlled both chambers in 23 states, while Republicans were the majority party in 14 states. Legislatures in 12 states were divided between the two parties.

Nebraska’s single-chamber legislature is nonpartisan. (Editing by Doina Chiacu)