In a bitterly contested governor’s race in deep-red Kentucky — where the Republican presidential candidate has carried the state in 10 of the last 13 elections — Democratic Attorney General Andy Beshear appears to have pulled off a stunning upset of incumbent GOP Governor Matt Bevin. Dave Wasserman, an editor of the nonpartisan Cook Political Report, announced his projection of a Beshear victory at 7:15 p.m. CST, 75 minutes after the state’s last polls closed.
Decision Desk HQ posted continually updated the live results from the Kentucky governor’s race throughout Tuesday evening. As of 7:40 CST, Beshear led Bevin by a stunning 5.3 percentage points, with about 74 percent of precincts reporting.
In the most recent polling, released late last week, Bevin led Beshear by five points. But in approval rating polls, Bevin was ranked as America’s least popular state governor, according to a report by the Louisville Courier-Journal.
Beshear is the son of Kentucky’s most recent Democratic governor, Steve Beshear, who was defeated by Bevin in the 2015 Kentucky gubernatorial election. Bevin spent much of his term undoing the elder Beshear’s accomplishments, reversing the Democrat’s expansion of Kentucky health coverage, according to a report on the heated 2019 race by Governing.com.
Bevin also fired Beshear’s mother from the state’s horse commission, an important post in a state where horse racing contributes significantly to the economy.
“Bevin ran explicitly against Governor Beshear’s legacy, so it’s no surprise he has tensions with his family,” political scientist Steven Voss told Governing.com.
But while both Bevin and Beshear insisted that the governor’s race was not “personal,” Bevin reportedly funneled about $500,000 in state funds to a private law firm for an investigation of Beshear. The Republican governor claimed that the attorney general was “shaking down” state employees for campaign contributions.
In his capacity as attorney general, Beshear sued Bevin three times this year alone, over such issues as the governor’s cuts to state education spending and his dissolution of state regulatory boards.
The race appeared to tighten somewhat as the vote count went on. With 84 percent of the state’s 3,686 precincts reporting their results, Beshear’s total vote share had dropped to 50.12 percent, to 47.91 for Bevin, shaving his lead to 2.21 points, according to the Decision Desk figures.
Nonetheless, Decision Desk also called the race for Beshear shortly before 8 p.m. CST.
According to the Decision Desk numbers, Beshear’s victory came largely from Kentucky’s two most populous counties. In Jefferson County, home of Louisville, Beshear led Bevin with 67 percent to just 31.5, with 96 percent of precincts reporting.
In the second-most populated county, Fayette — home of Lexington — Beshear took 65.5 percent of the vote to 32.95 for Bevin, with all precincts reporting.
Democrats also appeared to be making gains in Virginia state elections on Tuesday, as The Inquisitr reported.