Delaware Gov. Jack Markell defended the performance of the Democratic Governors Association amid the "worst political environment in generations."

"We defied expectations and had a strong year," he told reporters at a press conference Wednesday. "We were outspent more than two-to-one but we still won more targeted races than our counterparts. We kept Republicans below the historic average of midterm gains. And very importantly, we actually flipped five governorships from Republicans hands to Democratic hands."

Democrats held 26 governorships before Nov. 2. They now hold 19, with Minnesota's race leaning Democratic but still outstanding.

Many of the party's newly elected governors were on hand for a lunch the DGA hosted at the St. Regis Hotel in Washington.

Markell is handing the leadership of the committee over to Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, who said he would focus immediately on the 2011 governors races in Louisiana, Mississippi and Kentucky, where Gov. Steve Beshear (D) is expected to seek reelection. "We're preparing for those, as well as the 11 that follow in the year after this," he said.

Republicans now hold 29 governorships, having gained five in 2010, but O'Malley downplayed the impact that would have on redistricting. "The tremendous seismic shift did not happen there."

"I think the shift is actually only 30 congressional seats, all in all," he said, "due to the fact that we actually did pick up a few governors' offices that had been Republican, largest among them in terms of congressional redistricting being California."

O'Malley had been vice chairman of the DGA. That position will now be held by North Carolina Gov. Bev Perdue.