On Tuesday, the Republican Governors Association lost its first gubernatorial race — a special election in West Virginia — since Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell became the group’s chairman.

Acting Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin (D) narrowly defeated Republican challenger Bill Maloney, who tried to tie Tomblin to President Obama.

Tomblin was leading by 15 points just a few months ago but won by only a couple of points.

The RGA and the Democratic Governors Association which is headed by Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, were heavily involved in the race.

McDonnell held a fundraiser for Maloney in July, and the RGA outspent the DGA on the race, including buying a slew of TV ads in the final weeks.

Maloney, who co-founded a drilling company and assisted in the rescue of the Chilean miners last year, won an eight-way Republican primary in May to compete to fill the unexpired term of Joe Manchin, a Democrat, who was elected to the U.S. Senate.

The RGA did not put a statement Tuesday night, but Republicans tried to spin the loss as . . . well, not a loss.

Democrats, they say, came close to losing blue West Virginia, where Democrats far outnumber Republicans and where Manchin overwhelmingly won his gubernatorial races.

Tomblin will be back on the ticket next year — and Republicans hope they have a better chance of taking the governor’s mansion when Obama is at the top of the ticket.

Three other states — Kentucky, Louisiana and Mississippi — hold elections in November.