Republican incumbent Gov. Matt Bevin refused to concede late Tuesday in Kentucky’s gubernatorial race, citing unspecified “irregularities” — potentially kickstarting weeks of uncertainty as the closely-watched contest with national implications remains too close to call.
The history-making evening also saw Republicans decisively hold onto the governorship in Mississippi despite a fierce Democratic challenge, while electing Kentucky’s first black attorney general. Democrats, meanwhile, took complete control over the Virginia statehouse for the first time in 26 years.
On Monday, Trump had called on an “angry majority” of voters to boost the relatively unpopular Bevin in Kentucky, in a nod to Richard Nixon’s “silent majority” and Ronald Reagan’s “moral majority.” But with 100 percent of precincts reporting, Bevin was behind Democratic Attorney General Andy Beshear, 49.2 percent (711,955 votes) to 48.9 percent (707,297 votes). Libertarian candidate John Hicks received 28,475 votes, or 2.0 percent.
The Associated Press said it could not declare a winner, owing to the tight margin. The Democratic National Committee and Beshear’s campaign, however, claimed victory.
“My expectation is that he [Bevin] will honor the election that was held tonight,” Beshear said in a speech to supporters. “That he will help us make this transition. And I’ll tell you what, we will be ready for that first day in office, and I look forward to it.”
And Democrat Amy McGrath, who is running in a long-shot bid to unseat GOP Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in 2020, said simply: “All I have to say is: Mitch, you’re next.”
Bevin, however, called it a “close, close race” and said he wasn’t conceding “by any stretch.” He added, “We want the process to be followed, and there is a process.”
Although Bevin has not outlined his next steps, Kentucky law provides for a variety of possible avenues. There is no mandatory recount law in Kentucky. Bevin may request counties recanvass their results, which is not a recount, but rather a check of the vote count to ensure the results were added correctly. Bevin would need to seek and win a court’s approval for a recount.
Bevin could also mount a legal challenge to the election results, assuming he could identify sufficient grounds. Such a move could open Bevin to criticism that, like defeated Georgia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, he was refusing to accept the legitimate result of an election. – READ MORE