Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear is projected to win reelection in Kentucky, according to Decision Desk HQ, fending off a challenge from a former President Trump-backed Republican challenger.

Beshear, who has seen strong approval despite being the Democratic governor of a red state, defeated Republican state Attorney General Daniel Cameron after a competitive race, winning his second term in the governor’s mansion. 

He will retain the seat he flipped blue back in 2019, when he beat then-Gov. Matt Bevin (R). 

He thanked voters Tuesday night, telling a crowd that his reelection win against Republican Cameron, who had the backing of Trump, “sends a loud, clear message.”

“Tonight Kentucky made a choice, a choice not to move to the right or to the left, but to move forward for every single family,” he said.

Polls generally showed Beshear holding onto a lead ahead of Tuesday’s elections — but an Emerson College Polling survey released last week found Beshear and Cameron tied at 47 percent each. 

Kentucky has been a closely watched contest amid the off-year elections, sandwiched between last year’s midterms and next November’s presidential election. The gubernatorial race in the Bluegrass State — as well as another in Mississippi — are being looked at for insights about how Democrats can fare in deep-red states. 

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Kentucky voted for Trump by roughly 30 points in 2016 and by around 26 points in 2020 — and President Biden has remained unpopular in the state. An Emerson College poll from October found Biden with just a 22 percent approval rating among Kentucky voters.

At the same time, the Democratic Beshear has been noted as one of the most popular governors in the country.

Some strategists have pointed to the Kentucky and Mississippi governor’s races as opportunities for their respective winners to emerge as more prominent political stars. 

Cameron worked on the campaign trail to tie Beshear to Biden and knock the incumbent governor on inflation, crime rates and social issues. Beshear leaned into abortion, painting Cameron as extreme for supporting Kentucky’s abortion ban, which notably includes no exceptions for rape or incest.

Updated at 10:09 p.m. ET