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Tomblin elected governor in W.Va.

CHARLESTON, W.Va., Oct. 4 (UPI) -- Acting West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin won the office in a special election Tuesday, defeating Republican Bill Maloney, returns showed.

With 81 percent of precincts reporting, Tomblin was ahead of Maloney 49 percent to 47 percent, Politico reported.

Tomblin succeeded Joe Manchin, who went from the statehouse to the U.S. Senate in 2010, following the death of longtime West Virginia Sen. Robert Byrd. He will serve the remainder of Manchin's original term as governor through 2012.

Maloney, a Morgantown businessman making his first venture into elective politics, won the Republican primary in May, upsetting former West Virginia Secretary of State Betty Ireland.

The Republican Governors Association ran TV ads claiming Tomblin was implementing the Affordable Healthcare Act, rather than challenging its legality, CNN reported.

"A majority of America's governors are fighting in court to stop Obamacare, but Earl Ray Tomblin is implementing Obamacare in West Virginia," the ad said.

Polls indicated Maloney gained ground on Tomblin after those ads ran, and Nathan Gonzalez, political editor of the Rothenberg Political Report, told CNN connecting Tomblin to Obama made Tomblin's "life more difficult."

"National Democrats shouldn't take much comfort in a Tomblin victory," Gonzalez said, prior to the election. "Tomblin pulled together a coalition of the Chamber of Commerce, unions and the NRA in order to survive. There aren't many other Democrats that will be able to do that in 2012."

UPI - United Press International, Inc.

Since 1907, United Press International (UPI) has been a leading provider of critical information to media outlets, businesses, governments and researchers worldwide.

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