Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear (D) won reelection easily on Tuesday, overcoming a tough economy in a conservative state to sail to a second term in office.

Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear (D), right, hugs Todd Hollenbach, candidate for state treasurer, during a rally at the American Legion Hall on Bardstown Road in Louisville, Ky., on Monday. (AP Photo/The Courier-Journal)

Republicans had high hopes for defeating Beshear early on, but despite his state’s problems, the governor remained popular throughout the campaign and was never seriously threatened. A recent poll shows his approval rating was at 69 percent.

Beshear also benefited from a weak showing by Williams and his running mate, state Agriculture Commissioner Richie Farmer. Williams’s record in Frankfort hasn’t made him too many friends, and Farmer, despite being a popular former University of Kentucky basketball player, has come under scrutiny for his use of government perks and spending of government money.

Democrats are expected to hold Beshear up as an example of how their candidates can win in a tough environment.

“Faced with a global economic downturn outside of his control, he remained committed to creating jobs, improving opportunity, and making responsible spending cuts to ensure that Kentucky lives within its means,” said Martin O’Malley, the chairman of the Democratic Governors Association. “And even in a competitive environment, he stayed focused on these key priorities.”