Republicans appear to have lost the Kentucky governor’s mansion in Tuesday’s off-year elections to a Democrat who Donald Trump publicly pilloried less than a day before polls opened.
The president rallied Kentuckians one day before polls opened, gambling on taking the credit if the GOP governor kept his job. But now Trump’s coattails seem to have shortened.
Democratic state attorney general Andy Beshear led Republican Gov. Matt Bevin by just 0.3 percentage points. But that slim margin of 4,658 votes was enough to make Democrats giddy about seizing power in the state capital.
NBC News called the race for Beshear, as did Kentucky’s secretary of state, Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes. As of 11:00 p.m., the Associated Press and the Fox news Channel both considered the race ‘too close to call.’
Bevin said his campaign was ‘not conceding this race by any stretch.’
‘We know for a fact there have been irregularities and the outcome will be determined by law,’ he told supporters. ‘This isn’t a political issue as much as it is an integrity issue, and the process must be followed.’
Beshear was eager to move forward. ‘I haven’t had an opportunity yet to speak to Governor Bevin,’ he said in a victory speech, ‘but my expectation is that he will honor the election that was held tonight.’
Kentucky Attorney General and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andy Beshear beat a sitting governor who President Donald Trump praised just one day ago in a wild public rally; he’s pictured Tuesday night giving a victory speech with his family at his side
Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin, right, with his wife Glenna, refused to concede Tuesday’s election – which the Associated Press and Fox News both said was ‘too close to call’
Beshear, now governor-elect, tweeted ‘Thank you , Kentucky!’ and a photo of himself with running mate Jacqueline Coleman
The president’s influence in statewide races has been a question mark for the past year as the novelty of his style wears off and Democrats in Washington insist he’s corrupt and impeachable
Trump rallied in Lexington, Kentucky Monday night for Gov. Matt Bevin’s re-election, a gesture that doesn’t appear to have generated enough enthusiasm in the Bluegrass State
Trump sought to distance himself from Bevin and take credit for the other five Republicans running for statewide office in the Bluegrass State –– all of whom won their races
Voters in Virginia (pictured), Kentucky, Mississippi and New Jersey headed to the polls Tuesday, with voters in Louisiana picking a governor later this month. While New Jersey’s race won’t be a bellwether, the other four states’ races tested President Trump’s political staying power
Bevin could choose to request a recount or a less dramatic measure, a recanvassing. That would involve county boards of election reviewing vote totals in machines at every polling place.
Kentucky law does not provide for an automatic recount for elections whose margins of victory are exceedingly close. Challengers have one week to request it and must pay for the process, which a judge oversees.
Sensing that he will lead a bitterly divided state, Beshear promised Republicans that he would ‘work hard to earn your trust.’
But he hinted at uncompromising partisanship to come, casting elections as ‘right versus wrong’ instead of ‘right versus left.
Democratic National Committee chairman Tom Perez congratulated Beshear, saying his apparent ‘earth-shattering victory in a state Trump won by 30 points should terrify him and every Republican running in 2020.’
Trump 2020 campaign manager Brad Parscale blamed Bevin, noting that the other five Republicans running for statewide office all won.
‘The President just about dragged Gov. Matt Bevin across the finish line, helping him run stronger than expected in what turned into a very close race at the end,’ Parscale said. ‘A final outcome remains to be seen.’
Trump 2020 campaign manager Brad Parscale blamed Bevin, noting that the other five Republicans running for statewide office all won
Democrats’ Kentucky victory is less an advance than a rebound: Thirteen of the state’s 16 governors since World War II were Democrats, and Beshear’s father held the office until 2015.
As election officials tallied key races in two other states, the younger Beshear’s apparent victory set an uncertain tone for the president that carried over into Virginia and only stopped at the Mississippi border.
With 88 per cent of precincts reported there, Republican Tate Reeves was making comparatively easy work of Democrat Jim Hood in the Mississippi governor’s race. Reeves led by 7.1 percentage points and was declared the winner with vote-counting still underway.
Virginia, especially, looked bad for Republicans. Democrats took over the state Senate with an apparent 21–19 margin, and were poised to take a 54–45 advantage in the House of Delegates, with 1 independent likely to win a seat.
Republicans had controlled both houses of the State Assembly by 2 seats in each.
The president spent the past week reliving the high-wire political strategy that helped North Carolina Republicans pull a rabbit out of a hat in a September special election. Republican Dan Bishop, then a state senator, came from far behind to win a U.S. House seat there after Trump stumped for him.
President Trump ignored the losing gubernatorial race, tweeting his congratulations only to the Republican winner of the state attorney general’s race, Daniel Cameron
President Trump (right) also traveled to Mississippi on Friday in advance of Tuesday’s gubernatorial race. There he backed Republican Tate Reeves (left) who appeared to have an easy win against Democrat Jim Hood
His rallies in Mississippi on Friday and Kentucky on Monday were pleas for proof that enthusiasm from the political base he sees as a ‘silent majority’ hasn’t softened during a season of nonstop impeachment news.
Trump called Beshear ‘a major lefty’ on Monday night in Lexington, and called him ‘too extreme and too dangerous for the state of Kentucky.’
And he spun Bevin’s legendary crankiness and low popularity statewide as a bristly positive for Kentuckians.
‘When he needs something for Kentucky like money, like aid, like when he wants me to call one of the many manufacturers now that are coming into Kentucky … I say, “Matt, do I have to do it? Please! Please!” But isn’t that really what you want him to do?’
‘He’s such a pain in the ass,’ the president said. ‘But that’s what you want’ from a governor.
‘Here’s the story,’ Trump told thousands of supporters Monday night. ‘If you win, they are going to make it like, “Ho hum.” And if you lose, they are going to say Trump suffered the greatest defeat in the history of the world. You can’t let that happen to me!’
A Mississippi voter holds up an ‘I Voted’ sticker on Tuesday as the state’s gubernatorial race has the country’s attention over whether a Democrat could become governor in the deep red state
Former Vice President and Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden stood alongside former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe at a ‘Get out the Vote’ rally in Sterling, Virginia on Sunday
A mobile billboard urged voters to cast ballots for Democrats, photographed Tuesday outside Centreville High School in Clifton, Virginia
Democratic candidate Andrew Yang also rallied in Virginia in advance of the state’s Tuesday election. Democrats are hoping to push the state House and Senate blue. Both are narrowly in Republican hands now
Bevin and Beshear were tied last month, according to a Mason-Dixon poll.
But Trump helped to nationalize the race, Bevin did his part by preaching to conservatives about pro-life positions and objections to ‘sanctuary cities.’
The president ignored Beshear and Bevin as reality set in Tuesday night, tweeting only about a down-ballot victory that made a Republican the Kentucky attorney general for the first time in more than 70 years.
Daniel Cameron, the winner, is also the first African-American ever voted individually into state-wide office in the history of Kentucky.
Trump will travel to Louisiana on Wednesday to rile up his faithful in Cajun country and make the case for ousting John Bel Edwards, the Democratic Party’s only governor in the Deep South.
The president rallied in the Pelican State less than four weeks ago, arguing for an election stalemate that would force a runoff between Edwards and one of the two Republicans on the ballot.
It worked: Edwards failed to capture 50 per cent of the vote. Now he must face Republican Eddie Rispone on November 16.
Trump is slated to travel Wednesday night to Monroe, Louisiana for a 7:00 p.m. rally at the Monroe Civic Center.