Ky., Miss. Races Head 2007 Elections

The Associated Press
Tuesday, November 6, 2007; 6:10 PM

-- Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, practically the only politician to come out of Hurricane Katrina looking good, was heavily favored to win re-election Tuesday, while Kentucky's governor tried to stave off defeat with a little old-time religion, ordering the Ten Commandments displayed in the state Capitol.

Barbour's campaign capitalized on his successful management of the hurricane recovery, stressing job growth and rebuilding along the Gulf Coast. Barbour and his Democratic opponent, trial lawyer John Arthur Eaves Jr., quoted Scripture as they exchanged barbs.

Charlie Metcalfe, a 31-year-old contractor from Ridgeland, Miss., chose Barbour, saying the Republican incumbent "seems to be doing OK."

"Eaves doesn't really have a plan," Metcalfe said. "He says he's going to serve God and serve the people, but you need a little more of a plan if you're going to run for governor."

As is common in elections in odd-numbered years, the slim lineup of races was expected to keep turnout low.

In Kentucky, Gov. Ernie Fletcher was trying to hang on for another four years after spending much of his first term battling accusations that he directed the hiring of political allies for jobs protected by the state's merit system.

On Monday, Fletcher ordered that the Ten Commandments be displayed alongside other historical documents in the state Capitol, after a federal judge ruled that a previous injunction in a separate court case did not apply to the display.

Fletcher, the state's first GOP governor in more than 30 years, was indicted on misdemeanor charges that were later dismissed in a negotiated deal after a judge said he could not be tried in office. But the grand jury later issued its findings, saying Fletcher had approved a "widespread and coordinated plan" to skirt state hiring laws.

Democrat Steve Beshear made religion a centerpiece of his campaign challenging Fletcher, citing his religious upbringing and running television ads showing him in front of a church in western Kentucky. A former state lawmaker, attorney general and lieutenant governor, he is attempting a comeback after a nearly 10-year hiatus from politics.

Voters also were set to choose mayors in San Francisco, Houston, Baltimore, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.

No serious challenger threatened San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom's bid for a second term, even though the mayor admitted just eight months ago that he had a drinking problem and an affair with a close aide's wife.

In Philadelphia, former Democratic councilman Michael Nutter was nearly certain to become the city's next mayor on his promises to reduce gun violence, crack down on no-bid contracts and offer $10,000 tax breaks to companies that hire convicts. But first Nutter wants to declare a citywide litter cleanup and rid the City of Brotherly Love of its less-flattering nickname: Filthadelphia.

Several states were voting on ballot measures, including a Utah proposal that would create the nation's first statewide school voucher program open to all, even affluent families in well-performing districts.

Oregon voters considered a measure to raise the cigarette tax by 84.5 cents a pack _ to $2.02 _ to fund health insurance for about 100,000 children now lacking coverage. Tobacco companies spent nearly $12 million fighting it.

New Jersey voters were deciding a referendum authorizing the state to borrow $450 million over 10 years to finance stem cell research.


Associated Press writers Roger Alford in Frankfort, Ky., Ben Dobbin in Rochester, N.Y., and Emily Wagster Pettus in Jackson, Miss., contributed to this report.

© 2007 The Associated Press