Voters have made their decision, and Democrat Jay Nixon will spend the next four years again serving as Missouri's governor.
With 96 percent of precincts reporting, Nixon received 54 percent to 43 percent for businessman Dave Spence, a Republican.
In his victory speech, Nixon thanked Spence for running a spirited race.
"Today, at the ballot box, Missourians voiced their support for putting the people's business above the petty politics that divides us," Nixon said.
In their final week of campaigning, both candidates offered different takes on the economy. Nixon met with autoworkers from a General Motors plant in Wentzville to discuss his efforts to attract high-paying automotive jobs in Missouri, while Spence made stops in Farmington, Cape Girardeau and Poplar Bluff to discuss his plan to increase jobs in Missouri. Nixon played a key role in keeping the Ford assembly plant in Claycomo.
In TV ads, Nixon cited Missouri's low unemployment rate compared to many neighboring states. He told autoworkers that unemployment has dropped from 8.6 percent when he assumed office in January 2009 to 6.9 percent now. In his ads, Spence made reference to boarded up businesses and said the jobless numbers are misleading because many people have simply given up trying to find work. Spence also sought to tie Nixon to President Barack Obama, who is unpopular in Missouri.
Nixon's term as governor hasn't always been without controversy.
In September, a state audit ripped Nixon, who previously served as the state attorney general, and his office for spending more than $1 million in tax dollars on travel-related expenses. One line in the report revealed $2,000 spent for hotel rooms in the capital of Jefferson City.
Many spoke out when Nixon announced in June nearly $9 million in cuts for public colleges and universities while signing Missouri's $24 billion budget for the fiscal year
Spence, a businessman and CEO, pumped money into his governor campaign, a large amount especially in the last weeks leading up to Election Day. State records show he loaned or gave his campaign $6 million since declaring his candidacy.
He touted that his successful business background gave him the necessary skills to help Missouri thrive as governor. But Nixon questioned his credentials as an effective business leader.
Nixon becomes the first Missouri governor in 16 years to win re-election. The last was Democrat Mel Carnahan in 1996.
Copyright 2012 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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