MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) - Democrat Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin shook off GOP challenger Bill Maloney's attempts to link him to a president who's unpopular in the state, winning a full four-year term as West Virginia's chief executive Tuesday.
The state's five electoral votes, as expected, went to GOP hopeful Mitt Romney instead of President Barack Obama.
Tomblin, the state's longest-serving Senate president, successfully banked on the track record he'd established after three decades in state politics. He's been serving as acting governor since narrowly winning a special election for an unexpired term in 2010.
"The people of West Virginia appreciate the experience, the fiscal responsibility that we've shown, the good financial planning," Tomblin said. "We plan to continue to move forward along that same path and to continue to be responsible with the taxpayers' dollars."
In a brief concession speech in Morgantown, Maloney said he ran his campaign for his grandson and for other generations of children "who have left West Virginia to find new opportunities."
"And we're still hopeful we can bring all those children back to give them that opportunity right here in the Mountain State," he said, vowing to continue to fight but also calling for unity.
"This was a hard-fought campaign, but now it's time to come together and work together for a better state," Maloney said. "I want to ask all of you to work with Gov. Tomblin to create a better West Virginia."
The candidates' first campaign showdown was brief, but this battle has been long and bitter, heavy on negative attack ads. Tomblin argued the state has made good progress under his leadership, but Maloney, a longtime drilling engineer and successful business owner from Morgantown who had worked hard on his ground game, argued that the state needs drastic change.
West Virginia hasn't elected a Republican governor since Cecil Underwood, who defeated Democrat Charlotte Pritt in 1996. Underwood lost in 2000 to Democrat Bob Wise.
Several third-party and write-in candidates also ran, including the Mountain Party's Jesse Johnson.