By Joe Biesk
The Associated Press
FRANKFORT - A former Democratic governor beat the brother of the current Republican governor Tuesday to win a state Senate district representing thousands of state employees.
Former Gov. Julian Carroll resurrected his political career with an overwhelming victory over Harold Fletcher, whose younger brother is Gov. Ernie Fletcher.
With 86 percent of precincts reporting, Carroll had nearly two-thirds of the votes.
In the campaign's closing months, the governor released a health insurance proposal that sent teachers to the brink of a statewide strike. Lawmakers from both parties were taking political heat from their constituents over the matter.
The governor called lawmakers into a special session - and took incumbents off of the campaign trails - in early October to deal exclusively with the health insurance issue. After just more than two weeks in session, at the taxpayers' cost of about $55,000 per day, lawmakers eventually settled on a plan that sweetened health insurance benefits for about 229,000 public school employees and state workers.
"He was the governor's brother, and we're state employees right now," Melissa Koger, a 26-year-old teacher from Versailles said. "... The legislature figured it out in 10 days, when (the governor) has had all year."
Republicans have countered that the General Assembly's final plan had support from both parties.
The governor said Tuesday he didn't think voters would still be concerned about the health insurance issue. While it may have interfered with some incumbents' ability to campaign during the final weeks, it should not have hurt any momentum, Ernie Fletcher said.
"I don't think it's going to have any effect," he said.
Meanwhile, Democrats also maintained at least two Senate seats Tuesday, as incumbent Sen. Ray Jones, D-Pikeville, defeated his Republican opponent, Chris Ratliff. Democrats also held onto the seat of former state Sen. David Karem, D-Louisville, as Democrat Denise Harper Angel of Louisville beat Ron Burrell, a Louisville Republican.
Heading into Tuesday's election, the Senate had six open seats because of retirements, redistricting and two incumbents' primary losses. In the Senate there were four Democrats and two Republicans facing re-election opposition, leaving eight unopposed incumbents virtually guaranteed another term.
In the House, there were 47 incumbents running unopposed Tuesday - 26 Democrats and 21 Republicans.
Lawmakers' inability to pass a state budget also lingered as a potential issue during the election in which half the Senate and all 100 House seats were on the ballot.
The General Assembly adjourned in April without passing a state budget. Candidates on both sides used the issue as campaign fodder against their opponents.
When the General Assembly adjourned, they were hopelessly deadlocked over what to do about . Ernie Fletcher's proposal to overhaul the state's tax code.
Republicans insisted the state budget and the tax proposal were tied together, while Democrats wanted to first pass a budget.
OHIO ELECTION RESULTS:
Ohio provisional ballots may decide presidential election
Voters repeal amendment on gay rights
Ohio Supreme Court: GOP's justices appear to be buttressing majority
Voinovich has no trouble winning 2nd Senate term
Sycamore levy passes; four others fail
Kerry effort falls short in Ohio
Ohio Republicans aim to maintain grip in House, Senate
Ohio election briefs
Ohio Issue 1 passes
Turnout heavy in suburbs
MU students hit the polls
HAMILTON CO. RACES
Cincinnati school levy passes
Hospital tax leading despite opposition
CLERMONT CO. RACES
Clermont County: Republicans remain choice in early count
Clermont County tax issues: Long lines delay counting
BUTLER CO. RACES
Fairfield levy passes
Butler commission: All incumbents being returned
Butler levies: Support strong for health, social care funding
Butler County Sheriff: Jones likely successor to Gabbard
WARREN CO. RACES
Heavy turnout, long lines delay vote count
Kings levy passes by slim margin
Indiana governor: Daniels prevails after tough, costly slugfest
Ballot misprint may affect Ind. school board race
KENTUCKY ELECTION RESULTS:
Alexandria: Voters stick with City Council's six incumbents
Bellevue City Council: Two incumbents losing seats with 4 of 5 precincts counted
Covington: Sanders and Stricker joining City Commission
Campbell County: Ward holds on to retain seat on Circuit Court
Florence City Council: One newcomer, five incumbents win seats
Independence: Four who opposed insurance tax win
Newport: Mayor, all four on council will be keeping their seats
Suburban schools: Campbell, other area boards get fresh faces
Villa Hills, Taylor Mill: Taxes to fix, replace city streets rejected
Urban schools: Newcomer ousts incumbent, snags Newport board seat
N. Ky. election briefs
Popular president dominates Kentucky
Ky. Senate: Bunning wins - but race was close
Ky. House: This time around, Davis prevails
Issue One: Kentucky overwhelmingly says yes to no-gay-marriage
State's determined voters brave long lines, waits, rain
23rd Senate District: Westwood survives challenge by Groob
Ex-Gov. Carroll wins Frankfort seat
State Senate: Republican Thayer wins a full term in new seat
67th House District: Keene's win preserves spot for Democrats
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Shelter director traveled from needing to helping
Help Habitat by hiring yard rakers
Father inspired mission journey
Cone throw may bring legal action
Police dogs could get TV time at competition
Harrison man charged in auto fatals
Exhibit to spotlight 350 years of Judaism in America
Medal of Honor graves get special markers
Local news briefs
Neighbors news briefs
Good Things Happening
Gay Weber designed jet engines for GE
Time of change in Crestview Hills
Waltz or swing, timid students learn to let go
Florence Freedom has a deal
$545,000 grant to bolster Ky. health-care work force
N. Ky. news briefs
Jewelry gone after autopsy of corpse
N.Ky. schools' education guide available online
Murder counts filed in wreck that killed 2