TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Democratic Gov. Kathleen Sebelius won re-election Tuesday night, defeating Republican challenger Jim Barnett in a race that wasn't viewed as a serious threat to prevent her from capturing a second term.
With 10 percent of precincts reporting, Sebelius had 63 percent of the vote against 36 percent for Barnett, a senator and physician from Emporia.
The call for Sebelius was based on a number of factors, including voter turnout, previous voting patterns, and a statistical analysis of the vote from voter interviews conducted for The Associated Press by Edison Media Research and Mitofsky International.
Sebelius started strong in her re-election bid and stayed that way throughout the campaign, outspending the underfunded Barnett at every turn. She's been a popular governor and, despite his efforts, Barnett never really gave voters a reason to replace her.
"Even if she hasn't gotten as far as she wants, she's trying. She's tried her best," said Mary Jo Pepperdine of Prairie Village. "I don't want to start over with a new governor."
But Barnett's message wasn't totally ignored.
"Kathleen Sebelius, she scares me. She tried to make it legal to give driver's licenses to illegal immigrants and that scared me because that would be saying that it's OK for them to cross the border and come into America," said Mark Taylor, of Shawnee.
Sebelius is the first woman in Kansas to wind a second term as governor and the second to hold that office after Democrat Joan Finney who was elected in 1990. She's the state's 44th governor and among nine Democrats to be the state's chief executive.
With her victory, Sebelius did something her father couldn't do - win a second term as governor.