The other story ranked No. 3 was the vice presidential debate between Joe Biden and Paul Ryan at Centre College.
The small private school and the town of Danville reaped financial dividends from hosting the undercard debate for a second time. The first time was the 2000 contest pitting Dick Cheney and Joe Lieberman.
Coming in at No. 5 was Beshear's decision to offer a judgeship to his chief political rival, state Senate President David Williams, a Republican from Burkesville. Williams, a powerbroker for more than a decade in the Senate, accepted the offer and left office. Beshear won re-election last year by easily defeating Williams.
Three stories tied for No. 6 — the decline of coal-mining jobs, the ouster of U.S. Rep. Ben Chandler in the November election and the struggles of former UK basketball star Richie Farmer.
Hundreds of miners found themselves out of work in Kentucky's coal regions, victims of a slumping coal sector as natural gas gained in popularity as a substitute to generate electricity. Benefit fairs were offered to help displaced miners search for new work and to steer them toward available services and benefits.
"The miners and others in communities where coal has historically been the economic engine are beginning to face hardships that should be unimaginable in 2012," Ben Gish, editor of The Mountain Eagle newspaper in Whitesburg, said in his ballot.
Chandler, heir to one of the state's most famous political names, lost his seat in Congress to Republican Andy Barr in a central Kentucky district. Chandler had barely defeated Barr two years earlier.
Chandler's loss leaves just one Democrat — Rep. John Yarmuth of Louisville — in Kentucky's congressional delegation next year.
Meanwhile, Farmer's struggles continued even after he lost a bid for lieutenant governor in the 2011 election. Since then, Farmer went through a divorce and was lambasted by the state auditor for his management of the Kentucky Department of Agriculture. By late in the year, the one-time rising political star was selling cars in eastern Kentucky.
In the ninth spot was the political battle over redistricting, and the successful challenge of how the legislative districts were redrawn.
Voted as the No. 10 story was Kentucky being granted a waiver from the federal No Child Left Behind education law.
The waiver means Kentucky can use a new system it has developed to determine progress in schools without also being held to a federal standard that would label entire schools as failing if one subgroup of students did not score high enough in reading and math tests.