- Associated Press - Tuesday, November 3, 2015

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - A GOP surge swept the state during Tuesday’s election, winning Republicans the hard-fought race for Governor and ousting the incumbent Democratic state auditor:

GOVERNOR: Businessman Matt Bevin led the Republican takeover of Kentucky politics, winning election as only the second GOP governor in four decades. Bevin defeated Democrat Jack Conway with 52 percent of the vote. Independent Drew Curtis was a distant third with just more than 3 percent. Bevin cast himself as an outsider, in both government and politics. The 48-year-old investment manager has never held public office. Bevin’s campaign was mostly self-funded, and he preferred to speak to small gatherings of voters instead of courting influential donors. His running mate, Jenean Hampton, is a retired Air Force officer who moved to Kentucky from Detroit. Her only political experience is a lopsided loss to the former speaker of the Kentucky House of Representatives in 2014. Now, Hampton will become the first black person to ever hold statewide office in Kentucky.

ATTORNEY GENERAL: Democrat Andy Beshear, the son of Kentucky’s governor, was elected as the state’s next attorney general by a slim margin, surviving a Republican onslaught that swept GOP candidates into other statewide offices. Beshear, a private practice attorney, is the son of two-term Gov. Steve Beshear. He succeeds two-term Attorney General Jack Conway, who lost in his run for governor. The campaign turned into a verbal sparring match, with Beshear insisting he’s standing on his own record as a candidate. But Republican Whitney Westerfield 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, considered a rising star in the state Democratic party, was ousted by voters, who chose instead to elect a little-known Republican state lawmaker as the state’s chief financial watchdog. State Rep. Mike Harmon, an insurance agent from Danville who has served 13 years in the state House of Representatives, won nearly 52 percent of the votes. His victory Tuesday was a stunning blow to state Democrats: Harmon raised far less money than the Democratic incumbent, who was seen as a potential challenger to Republican U.S. Sen. Rand Paul in next year’s Senate race. Harmon touted his conservative credentials and tried to paint Edelen as a career politician using the auditor’s office as a stepping stone to higher office. Harmon pledged to rid the office of the “liberal agenda” and instill conservative values by scrutinizing every dollar the government spends.

SECRETARY OF STATE: Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes defeated a little-known Republican challenger in her bid for re-election, ending the night as one of two Democrats to cling to statewide office. Grimes, well-known in the state for her unsuccessful bid last year to unseat Sen. Mitch McConnell, ran a low-key campaign for a second term. Her opponent, Steve Knipper, a former city council member in Erlanger, criticized her for running for the Senate just 18 months after she was first elected as secretary of state. Grimes, a Lexington lawyer before her political career, responded by pointing to her record since taking office in 2012: She has overseen the registration of 100,000 new businesses in Kentucky; led a $10 million upgrade of the state’s online business portal; and has pushed for several voting access improvements in the legislature.

TREASURER: Republican Allison Ball, a political newcomer, was elected as Kentucky’s next state treasurer, handily beating a Democratic lawmaker. Ball, a bankruptcy attorney from Prestonsburg, claimed more than 60 percent of the votes in defeating state Rep. Rick Nelson of Middlesboro. Ball says her background helping people through bankruptcies prepared her to balance the state checkbook. The treasurer also collects and returns unclaimed property and handles other financial duties.

AGRICULTURE COMMISSIONER: Republican state Rep. Ryan Quarles easily defeated his Democratic rival in a hard-fought race to be Kentucky’s next agriculture commissioner. Quarles campaigned on his farming pedigree: He 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. The 31-year-old lawmaker from Georgetown narrowly won the Republican nomination but claimed a decisive victory in the general election with more than 60 percent of the vote. He faced Democrat Jean-Marie Lawson Spann, an agribusiness executive and host of a long-running weekly radio show on farm issues.

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