FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear has been
re-elected, becoming the second Democrat to win a U.S.
gubernatorial race this year amid lingering economic uncertainty
that's already proving worrisome to President Barack Obama's 2012
Beshear easily overcame challenges from Republican David
Williams and independent Gatewood Galbraith, in a conservative
state where voters routinely elect Republicans in national races.
With 50 percent of precincts reporting, Beshear had 241,211 votes
or 58 percent, to 131,319 votes for Williams or 31 percent.
Galbraith had 44,893 votes or 11 percent.
Williams, the state Senate president, and Galbraith, an attorney
in his fifth run for governor, campaigned on claims Beshear didn't
do enough to create jobs in a state where one in 10 workers is
unemployed. Beshear said Kentucky was emerging stronger from the
Democrats have lost only two Kentucky governor's races since
1950, and pre-election polls had Beshear poised to keep the streak
going with a double-digit lead over Williams heading into an
election where some projected that three-fourths of the state's
registered voters might stay away from the polls.
In Louisiana, GOP incumbent Gov. Bobby Jindal easily won
re-election last month. Republicans are favored Tuesday in
Mississippi, where Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant is the front-runner to
succeed two-term Gov. Haley Barbour. Bryant faces Democrat Johnny
DuPree, the first black candidate in modern times to win a
major-party nod for Mississippi governor.
Beshear had vowed to join West Virginia's Early Ray Tomblin as
the second Democrat to win a governor's race this year.
Tomblin won Oct. 4 in a special gubernatorial election after his
Republican challenger sought to paint as a mandate on Obama's
In the Kentucky race, Williams also tried to make Obama a
Beshear endorsed Obama for re-election while Williams blamed the Democratic president for job-killing economic policies and for
environmental policies that have harmed Kentucky's coal industry,
which employs about 18,000 people. At campaign stops, Williams said Beshear has failed to set an agenda that puts people back to work, noting Kentucky has lost some 90,000 jobs since Beshear took office in 2007.
Beshear acknowledged that the economic gloom continues, but
insisted that Kentucky is emerging from lean times much stronger
than most other states.
Republican leaders quickly lined up to discount Democratic
assertions that the governor's race is a harbinger for Obama.
Republican operative Larry Forgy, a Kentucky attorney, said the
governor's race shouldn't be viewed as a harbinger for Obama.
"Steve Beshear will be up in the treetops screeching like a
buzzard, but there's nothing unusual about a Democrat being elected
governor in Kentucky," Forgy said, noting the state's historical
record of siding with Democrats for the job.
Beshear raised more than $10 million, gaining a huge
campaign-financing advantage from the get-go. Williams, the often
prickly small-town lawyer, had banked about $2 million, and
Galbraith less than $200,000, according to the last donor reports
filed with election authorities.
"This race was not about unemployment, not about Obama, not
even about Beshear," said Louisville businessman and Republican
operative Ted Jackson. "It was about David Williams. I think it
would have taken a miracle of biblical proportions for him to win
this race. The likeability factor is just so important today."
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)