Kentucky voters appeared to reject Gov. Matt Bevin Tuesday, bucking a statewide Republican trend as they turned their backs on a politician known as much for his blustery personality as his conservative values.
Democrat Andy Beshear, who ran a campaign as the anti-Bevin and stuck to a script of “kitchen table issues” — education, pensions, health care and jobs — declared a narrow victory over the incumbent governor.
As of 10 p.m., unofficial results from the Associated Press showed Beshear leading Bevin by 4,658 votes with 100 percent of precincts reporting. More than 1.4 million votes were cast.
Bevin refused to concede the race.
“Would it be a Bevin race if it wasn’t a squeaker? I mean come on,” Bevin asked the crowd at the Galt House in Louisville. “This is a close, close race. We are not conceding this race by any stretch.”
Instead, he said he wanted every vote to be counted and for the “process to be followed” before the next governor takes office. The State Board of Elections typically approves the official election results within a few days of an election.
Bevin did not specify whether he would challenge the results of the race, but he has 30 days after the results are certified by the State Board of Elections to decide whether to formally contest the results, according to state law. Typically candidates request a recanvass of voting machines, and then a recount, before contesting an election.
A contested election in Kentucky is extremely rare. According to Senate President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, the last contested election for governor involved the 1899 election of Democrat William Goebel.
“After tonight this election is over,” Beshear told supporters as he declared victory. “After tonight, we move forward with every other Kentucky citizen as team Kentucky.”