On Tuesday, November 5, Kentucky elected a Democratic governor, former KY Attorney General Andy Beshear, by a margin of about 5,000 votes. In a state that Trump won by 30 points in 2016, this was a surprise to many. Just a day before the vote, Trump visited Lexington to rally for Bevin, imploring the crowd saying “If you lose, it sends a really bad message… You can’t let that happen to me.” Incumbent Governor Matt Bevin originally cited “irregularities” in the vote and called for a recanvass. Bevin conceded to Beshear on November 14th, after encouragement from several state representatives.
Beshear managed to flip several counties from the 2015 gubernatorial election, the most notable of which being Northern Kentucky, some saying that NKY’s flip allowed Beshear to win. Although the majority of Boone County voted for Bevin, there was a 21.1% increase in votes for the Democratic candidate. Additionally, Kenton and Campbell counties had an increase in Democratic votes by 19.9% and 18.5% respectively. Overall, Kentucky’s voter turnout has been low in recent elections, but this election garnered a very high turnout. More than 1.4 million people—42% of registered voters—cast their ballot, showing just how important this election was to Kentuckians.
Many have cited this race as an indication of a loss for Senator Mitch McConnell and President Trump in 2020, calling it the “Blue Wave” in conjunction with other Democratic victories across the U.S. However, Bevin was one of the most unpopular governors in the country and still only lost by less than 1% of the vote, so many are skeptic that this race will mean a blue Kentucky. Additionally, Republicans won every other statewide election on Nov. 5.
Here are some policies that you can expect from Beshear in the next four years:
Beshear ran on the primary platforms of education, healthcare, pensions, and transparency. Additionally, he has said, “I support restoring voting rights for Kentuckians with felony convictions for non-violent crimes, and who have completed their sentence” and that he “will sign an executive order automatically restoring voting rights and allowing offenders to hold public office.” He also supports expanded gaming to bring revenue to the state and “letting the people of Kentucky decide” on legalizing medical marijuana. Additionally, he plans to keep expanded Medicaid, citing its benefits to many Kentuckians.
This election was a major turn of events for the Democratic party and it will be very interesting to see what Beshear is able to accomplish in his four years as governor.