Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin Concedes Election Defeat

Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin concedes the gubernatorial election, Kentucky, U.S., November 14, 2019. (Bryan Woolston/Reuters)

Incumbent Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin on Thursday conceded defeat in the state’s gubernatorial race to Democratic challenger Andy Beshear.

Bevin announced his concession at a press conference amid a recanvass of the state’s votes.

“We’re going to have a change in the governorship based on the vote of the people,” Bevin told reporters. “I’m not going to contest these numbers that come in. It isn’t fair to throw that on our legislature.”

The tally of the November 5 gubernatorial election showed Beshear ahead by just over 5,000 votes, leading the Associated Press to deem the result too close to call. While Beshear declared victory, Bevin alleged “a number of irregularities” in the voting and said that “thousands of absentee ballots that were illegally counted,” without providing details.

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Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes ordered a recanvass of the votes for November 14, in which officials would double check voting machines and absentee ballots to ensure votes were counted properly.

President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence had campaigned strongly for Bevin’s reelection. Pence travelled to Kentucky multiple times to support the incumbent governor, while Trump appeared at a rally for Bevin the day before elections, delivering an hour-long speech.

Trump had told supporters Bevin’s loss would “send a really bad message” to the rest of the country, and would affect his image. “You can’t let that happen to me,” he said, urging Kentucky Republicans to vote.

Bevin had pushed for unpopular changes to the state’s Medicaid system, including establishing work requirements for Medicaid recipients and restructuring the program’s bureaucracy. The changes were expected to cost $272 million for the 2019-2020 fiscal year.

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