Incumbent Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear coasted to a second four-year term in Kentucky Nov. 8, but in his acceptance speech offered no specifics on his agenda for the next four years.
Beshear was the favorite according to polls throughout the campaign, and those numbers held up. With 98% of the precincts reporting, the governor held a 20-point lead over Republican Senate President David Williams, with whom Beshear regularly sparred in his first four years as governor.
Beshear, who made expanded gambling a focal point of his first campaign, made no mention of it or Kentucky’s horse industry in his acceptance speech. He instead talked about his large margin of victory and what it could mean.
“I asked the voters to send a strong message to reject (partisan politics),” Beshear said. “Today they have sent the message in the strongest possible terms. This is a mandate for both parties to work together to avoid gridlock.”
Williams in his concession speech said the Republican-controlled Senate is “going to try to find some common ground,” though he offered no specifics. He did say he plans to speak to Beshear in a few days.
In response to questions from commentators on Kentucky Education Television, Republican Senate Majority Leader Robert Stivers said Williams was elected Senate president on a two-year cycle that began last January. He wouldn’t say if other Republican senators would attempt to get Williams to step down from his leadership position given his drubbing by Beshear in the governor’s race.
“We are a group of 22 Republicans and one Independent that is larger than one individual,” Stivers said.
Williams is a strong opponent of expanded gambling and has been critical of the horse industry in Kentucky for pushing it. Democratic Speaker of the House Greg Stumbo, in comments on KET, said he will “wait and see what the Senate decides to do” in regard to expanded gambling and the horse industry in the 2012 General Assembly session.
“Hopefully we can resolve (the issue),” Stumbo said. “It’s not that difficult to deal with if we all put our heads together.”
The horse industry has not outlined its legislative strategy for 2012, though officials have said it would be made public after the gubernatorial election.
The only Republican to win statewide office in Kentucky Nov. 8 was James Comer, who was elected commissioner of agriculture. Comer, a farmer, had support from horse industry representatives.