UPDATE: Beshear has declared victory and multiple outlets have called the race for him with nearly all of the votes counted, but Bevin says he will not concede and is expected to call for a recount. Despite Beshear’s lead, the Associated Press has called the race “too close to call.”
Democrat Andy Beshear has been projected to win Kentucky’s gubernatorial race on Tuesday night, defeating the incumbent Republican Matt Bevin in the deep-red state, according to NBC News.
President Donald Trump had held a rally in support of Bevin’s candidate just the night before the race. But the Democrat’s electoral strength in the urban and suburban parts of the state locked in a win for Beshear in the tight race.
And while the results are important and consequential for the state itself, the race — like almost everything else — will inevitably be interpreted through a national lens.
“I spent the day the Senate, talking with Republicans,” said the Washington Post’s Robert Costa. “They are all paying close attention to the KY gubernatorial race. They are not just watching the returns, but President Trump’s political capital as they make decisions about how to handle impeachment and their own future.”
At his rally Monday night, Trump even suggested it would reflect poorly on him if Bevin lost.
“You gotta vote because if you lose, it sends a really bad message. It just sends a bad and they’re going to build it up,” he told the crowd, as Kyle Griffin noted. “You can’t let that happen to me.”
Others, however, noted that there are specific circumstances in Kentucky that gave Beshear an edge.
“Bevin was uniquely unpopular, even within his own party. Barely won majority in primary. Lowest approval of any governor in America,” said that National Journal’s Josh Kraushaar. He noted Bevin angered many Kentuckians by fighting with teachers and blocking Medicaid expansion. And many observers noted that while Beshear won the governor’s race, Republicans won other races on the ballot, suggesting Bevin’s unique unpopularity was key to his defeat.
But if a Republican can become uniquely unpopular by going after unions and taking away health care — two of the party’s reasons for being — Democrats should be able to cheer that fact and figure out how to leverage it for their own advantage.
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