LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - Republicans had a big night Tuesday, defeating a handful of Democrats to take over some of the state's top jobs.
The Democratic Party got a couple of victories Tuesday, but the party fell short of what they expected.
The hotly contested governor's race was the race everyone was watching closely. Bevin defeated Conway in what some might consider to be an upset, based on early poll results. But early projects were wrong, and none of those polls seemed to forecast that Republicans would collect so many victories.
Republican Ryan Quarles handily defeated Democrat Jean-Marie Lawson Spann. Republican Mike Harmon unseated Democratic incumbent Adam Edelen and Republican Allison Ball defeated Democrat Rick Nelson. Democratic Incumbent Alison Lundergan Grimes defeated Republican challenger Stephen Knipper to retain her seat. Democrat Andy Beshear defeated Republican Whitney Westerfield.
Democratic chair Patrick Hughes told a stunned and subdued crowd at the Frankfort Convention Center, where the Democratic candidates were gathering, that he'd continue to fight.
"You are not finished in Kentucky," he said. "We may have a set back on this battle on a few races tonight but we are going to win the war long term. Be not afraid we are going to continue to fight on at the Kentucky Democratic Party."
According to the secretary of state's office, turnout was approximately 30.7 percent with 100 percent reporting.
Here is a look at Kentucky's top races in Tuesday's general election, from the contest for governor at the top of the ticket to down-ballot races for statewide offices:
GOVERNOR: Republican Matt Bevin defeated Democrat Jack Conway to become only the second Republican governor in the state in four decades. Independent Drew Curtis was a distant third in Tuesday's election. With 100 percent of precincts reporting, Bevin had 511,771 or 52 percent of the 974,344 votes cast. Conway finished second with 426,944 votes or 43 percent and Drew Curtis came in third with 35,629 votes or 3.6 percent. Republicans have dominated federal elections in Kentucky, but moderate Democrats have maintained control of state government. Bevin's election gives Republicans control of the executive branch along with a commanding majority in the state Senate. Democrats still have an eight-seat majority in the state House of Representatives. Focus will almost immediately shift to the state House elections in 2016, where U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell has vowed to flex his powerful fundraising muscle to help Republicans to take over the only Southern state legislative body controlled by Democrats.
AGRICULTURE COMMISSIONER: Republican Ryan Quarles elected Kentucky agriculture commissioner. The Associated Press called the race for Quarles around 7:45 p.m. Quarles defeated Democrat Jean-Marie Lawson Spann. Quarles, grabbing 341,731 votes statewide compared to Spann's 233,438 votes. Both candidates had touted their rural pedigrees in competing to be Kentucky's next agriculture commissioner. Quarles raised crops on his family's central Kentucky farm to help pay for college, where he studied agricultural economics on his way to becoming a lawyer. Spann cited her experience as an agribusiness executive and host of a long-running weekly radio show on farm issues. The office promotes Kentucky farms and oversees a number of regulatory functions, ranging from the sale of eggs to animal health to making sure gasoline pumps and grocery store scales are accurately calibrated.
ATTORNEY GENERAL: Early results indicate Democrat Andy Beshear defeated Republican Whitney Westerfield. The Associated Press called the race for Beshear at 9:32 p.m. Beshear tallied 479,924 votes compared to Westerfield's 477,734 votes. Beshear, the son of Gov. Steve Beshear, succeeds two-term Attorney General Jack Conway, who was defeated in his bid for governor. The AG's campaign turned into a verbal sparring match, with Beshear insisting he's standing on his own record as a candidate, but Westerfield, a state lawmaker, said his opponent capitalized on his last name to rake in big piles of cash. The candidates attacked each other's credentials for the jobs. Westerfield criticized Beshear's lack of prosecutorial experience. Democrats pointed to a job evaluation early in Westerfield's tenure as an assistant prosecutor that said he sometimes put personal interests over work.
AUDITOR: Incumbent Auditor Adam Edelen upset in Republican surge that carries Mike Harmon to victory. The Associated Press called the race about 8:42 p.m. A veteran Republican state representative, Harmon defeated Edelen for the job as Kentucky's chief financial watchdog. Harmon grabbed 486,651 or 51 percent of the votes; Edelen came up short, finishing with 450,316 votes or 48 percent.
Harmon touted his conservative credentials, while Edelen pointed to his record as auditor. He said he returned millions of dollars to taxpayers, pushed to clear the state's backlog of untested rape kids and launched investigations that landed corrupt officials in jail. Edelen has been mentioned as a potential challenger to U.S. Sen. Rand Paul in next year's Senate race in Kentucky.
SECRETARY OF STATE: Alison Lundergan Grimes hangs on for re-election as Kentucky secretary of state. The Associated Press called the race about 8:42 p.m. Lundergan, the incumbent, was seeking a second term a year after her unsuccessful bid to unseat Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell, now the Senate majority leader. Grimes' opponent was Steve Knipper, a former city council member in Erlanger. The secretary of state's campaign was largely low key. Knipper criticized Grimes for running for the Senate in the midst of her term as secretary of state. Grimes pointed to her record since taking office. She said she pushed for several voting access improvements in the legislature and led an upgrade of the state's online business portal. Grimes finished with 493,600; Knipper had 471,239 of the 964,839 votes, according to the secretary of state's results.
TREASURER: Republican Allison Ball, a political newcomer, was elected state treasurer. The Associated Press called the race about 7:45 p.m. Ball defeated veteran Democratic lawmaker Rick Nelson in a matchup of candidates from Appalachia. Ball managed to get 60 percent of the votes or 572,296 votes compared to Nelson's 39 percent or 371,573 votes. Nelson cited his experience as a legislator and a retired teacher. Ball says her background as an attorney helping people through bankruptcies has prepared her to be a watchdog of state finances. Ball also wants to be more assertive in a job she says has been underutilized. The incumbent state treasurer, Democrat Todd Hollenbach, is finishing his second term and can't serve again because of term limits. The treasurer balances the state's checkbook, collects and returns unclaimed property and handles other financial duties.