LEXINGTON, KY — Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin has refused to concede victory to Democratic Attorney General Andy Beshear, who received the most votes in a tightly contested and closely watched race with national political implications.
With 100 percent of the Kentucky vote in, Beshear had 709,846 votes (49.2 percent), Bevin had 704,760 votes (48.8 percent) and Libertarian John Hicks had 28,442 votes (2 percent).
Beshear, a Louisville attorney, declared victory in the race Tuesday night, and tweeted out a photo of himself and running mate, Jacqueline Coleman.
Thank you, Kentucky! pic.twitter.com/mmMb7ekyK5
— Andy Beshear (@AndyBeshearKY) November 6, 2019
Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes called the race for Beshear in a phone call to CNN on Tuesday night. She said the state has no provision for an automatic recount but that an appeal could be filed.
The fight is far from over for Bevin, though, as he told a crowd assembled at the Galt House in downtown Louisville that he was not conceding the race.
Kentucky Senate President Robert Stivers presented another possible solution to determine the winner in the race, saying that based on his staff’s research, the decision could end up in front of the Republican-controlled state legislature.
Giving the legislature the final say in the governor’s race would be risky if clear reasons aren’t provided, Sam Marcosson, a constitutional law professor at the University of Louisville Brandeis School of Law, told The Courier Journal.
“They can’t just make them up,” Marcosson said.
“If the House and Senate were just to proceed on vague allegations without proof, that raises serious questions about disenfranchisement of the voters who voted for Attorney General Beshear,” Marcosson said. “It’s an extraordinary proposition to suggest that the General Assembly would take vague allegations of unspecified irregularities and call into question a gubernatorial election.”
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Bevin has 30 days to formally contest the outcome after it is certified by the State Board of Elections. It would be the first contested governor’s race in the state since 1899.
If the race is contested, the candidate challenging the results must specify the reasons for the action, such as voter fraud or campaign finance violations.
The Kentucky election, along with those in Mississippi and Virginia, was seen somewhat of a test about how the country feels about President Donald Trump.
The election centered on local issues and personalities but Trump and the national GOP stepped up their efforts about a month ago, fearing a Democratic candidate could win in Kentucky.
Trump hosted a rally on Monday in Lexington with the hope that his appearance would inspire added support for Bevin in the 11th hour.
Trump carried Kentucky in the 2016 election by 30 points.
Aside from Trump, the campaign for governor of Kentucky was intensely personal.
Bevin made consistent remarks about Beshear’s backing 0f abortion rights, which is a rare stance for any Southern governor candidate to take, according to Politico.
A recent Bevin campaign ad called Beshear “pro-death,” but the Democratic challenger has made it clear that he supports certain limits on abortion and used a playbook that helped Democrats secure wins across the country in 2018, according to Politico.
Here’s other Patch coverage of the governor’s race in Kentucky:
Kentucky Election Guide 2019: Governors Race Set For Photo Finish
Kentucky Governor Election 2019 Results: Beshear Named Winner