Napolitano trounces underdog Munsil

PHOENIX (AP) - Democratic Gov. Janet Napolitano's re-election bid swept across Arizona, apparently winning her all 15 counties and making inroads in GOP territory to produce an easy win over underdog Republican challenger Len Munsil.

Napolitano won in Tuesday's general election after a campaign that - somewhat overshadowed by hotly contested congressional races - saw the incumbent tout first-term accomplishments while refusing to engage an opponent who accused her of putting Arizona at risk.

With 99 percent of precincts reporting statewide, Napolitano had 722,437 votes, or 62.9 percent, to 402,425 votes, or 35 percent, for Munsil, and 23,244 votes, or 2 percent, for Libertarian Barry Hess.

Although it could shrink as early ballots turned in on Election Day are counted, Napolitano's apparent margin of victory was within several percentage points of the 30 percent recorded in 1982 by Bruce Babbitt, the last Democrat to win a second term as governor.

Exit poll results showed she had a broad spectrum of support, capturing all racial and gender categories and winning over self-described liberal and moderate voters. Munsil drew strong support from conservatives, but Napolitano won over some of those voters as well.

She ran upbeat television commercials that touted her first term in office, including teacher pay raises, the launch of state funding for all-day kindergarten and tax cuts originally proposed by Republicans.

She also included references to her successful push for the federal government to pay for deploying National Guard troops along the border and the state's fiscal recovery since Napolitano took office in January 2003.

A former state attorney general who previously served as U.S. attorney for Arizona during the Clinton administration, Napolitano was the subject of strong criticism from Republican legislators earlier in the year for vetoing several measures intended to combat illegal immigration.

However, she'd taken steps that reduced the potency of that issue, starting with a 2005 declaration of a state of emergency in border counties. She also repeatedly demanded that the federal government enact comprehensive legislation on immigration and do more both on the border and to respond to the costs of illegal immigration.

During the campaign, Napolitano said a second four-year term would focus on improving education, economic development and growth planning.

In conceding, Munsil said he was undaunted and that Republicans' values were "doing fine" in a year that saw a Democratic governor campaign on get-tough measures on border security. "We took on a task, and challenge, that no one thought possible," Munsil said.