Kentucky elects just 2nd Republican governor in four decades

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) -- Kentucky voters elected just the second Republican in four decades to hold the governor's office, in a race that became something of a referendum on health care reform and gay marriage.

The results Tuesday were a potentially troubling sign for Democrats ahead of next year's presidential election.

Matt Bevin, a Republican businessman, had waged a campaign to scale back the state's Medicaid expansion that was made possible by President Barack Obama's health care overhaul. He also played up his support of Kim Davis, the Rowan County clerk jailed for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Bevin's win over two-term Democratic Attorney General Jack Conway is another victory for Republicans as they continue to consolidate political power across the South.

Meanwhile,  Republican Phil Bryant won a second term as Mississippi governor, easily defeating two candidates who ran low-budget campaigns. Democrat Robert Gray is a long-haul truck driver who spent just over $3,000 to run for Mississippi's top job.

Around the country, voters also weighed several high-profile state and local ballot initiatives, including ones on school funding, marijuana and restrictions on Airbnb. Also on the ballot are mayors in more than 300 cities.