Tomblin's victory gives Democrats a boost in West Virginia

Democrat Earl Ray Tomblin won West Virginia's governor's race on Tuesday overcoming Republican efforts to tie him to President Obama's healthcare and economic policies.

Tomblin topped Republican Bill Maloney 50 to 47 percent reports the Associated Press.

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Tomblin had been serving as active governor after former Gov. Joe Manchin (D) left the office to accept the Senate seat left open by the death of Sen. Robert Byrd (D).

Both national parties spent heavily on the race. Tomblin was targeted by Republicans in particular for failing to join a multi-state challenge to the president's healthcare reform legislation.

"Tonight the people of West Virginia sent a clear message to national Republicans," said Democratic Governors Association Chairman Martin O'Malley (D-Md.) in a statement released Tuesday.

"Governor Tomblin was able to highlight his record of effectiveness and withstand Republican attempts to nationalize the race. Ultimately, the people of West Virginia elected Governor Tomblin because they know he is best suited to create jobs and expand opportunity."

Tomblin's victory was a major boost to Democrats heading into the 2012 election cycle. Had he lost to Maloney, Republicans would have been able to use the win to build on GOP victories in special House races in New York and Nevada in September to extend the message that Democrats were faltering across the country.

Democrats' success in holding on to the governor's mansion also reflected an ability to separate themselves at a local level from Obama, whose low approval ratings in West Virginia many expected would drag down Tomblin past the point of no return.

Another major beneficiary of Tuesday's results was Manchin, a popular governor who campaigned heavily for Tomblin and who will have to compete in 2012 for his first full term in the Senate.

This post was last updated at 9:39 a.m.