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Democrat Steve Beshear wins second term as Kentucky governor

November 08, 2011|By Michael A. Memoli
(Alex Slitz / AP/Daily News )

Gov. Steve Beshear has won reelection in Kentucky, marking the second successful hold for Democrats in a state where President Obama is deeply unpopular.

With 31% of precincts reporting, Beshear was leading Republican David Williams, 60% to 30%. The Associated Press called the race at 7:37 p.m. EST, the first prominent contest to be called on this off-year election day.

Kentucky's unemployment rate ranks in the top third nationally, and peaked at 11.1% midway through Beshear's term. But he benefited in this election from having a weak Republican foe and successfully positioning himself as a Democrat in the Kentucky tradition. His campaign ads acknowledged hard times facing the state but focused on job creation sparked by his initiatives.

The campaign of Williams, president of the Kentucky Senate, never really took off, even as Republicans hoped to target the state. As polls showed Beshear with a consistent double-digit lead, Williams made headlines most recently by attacking him for participating in Hindu prayers at an event welcoming a new India-based business to the state.

Four states are holding gubernatorial elections this year. In West Virginia last month another Democrat, acting Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, won a special election despite a late push by national Republicans to tie him to the president's healthcare reform law. Republicans are expected to hold the governorship in Mississippi, the only other such contest today.

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