Joined on stage by Franklin County Judge-Executive Teresa Barton - one of the Democrats he wooed to his side - Republican Ernie Fletcher graciously accepted a sound victory.
Fletcher, a U.S. Representative from Lexington, on Tuesday defeated Democrat Ben Chandler, getting 55 percent of votes across the state in the governor's race. The Associated Press reported, Fletcher with 593,508 votes to Chandler's 484,938 or 45 percent.
In Franklin County, where Democrats outnumber Republicans 5 to 1, Chandler had only a narrow majority with 10,419 votes to Fletcher's 9,126.
"It was clearly a message that resonated with people across the state in a way I'd really never hoped for," said Fletcher during a speech at a packed Marriott-Griffin Gate Resort in Lexington. "... Our work yet lies ahead and with your help we will forge on. We will take this mandate tonight, and move this state forward."
Inside the Marriott, the mood was festive and the heat rising, as hundreds of Kentucky Republicans - and some Democrats - stood elbow-to-elbow and anticipated Fletcher's victory. Party goers from two-and-half weeks old infants to the faithful sporting a full head of gray hair packed the sweltering grand ballroom.
Some waved tiny American flags. Others pumped fists, waved number 1 signs in the air, or gave the thumbs up. At several different points, the audience chanted "Ernie," with one man offering up, "Eight more years."
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