Kentucky Governor Concedes to Democrat After Recanvass

(CN) – Democrat Andy Beshear maintained his advantage at the polls and is still the governor-elect of Kentucky after a statewide recanvass changed only one vote, prompting the Republican incumbent to concede.

Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin discusses the recanvass of the gubernatorial election in Frankfort on Wednesday. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)

Governor Matt Bevin requested the recanvass after he lost in last week’s election by just over 5,000 votes and made unsubstantiated claims of voting “irregularities,” but conceded this afternoon.

Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, a Democrat, initiated the recanvass Thursday at 9 a.m. Eastern, requiring all 100 county clerks to recount the votes cast on their voting machines.

Not a single vote was added to the tally of Beshear or Bevin, and the only change came from Casey County, where a vote was added to write-in candidate Blackii Whyte, a musician who ran as an independent.

The result will be submitted to the Kentucky Board of Elections for certification, and Bevin said he will not contest the outcome.

In his concession speech, Bevin said he and his staff “set the bar very high” for Beshear, but claimed he would not be “second-guessing” the Democrat who will succeed him in the state’s highest office next month.

Not one to go out with a whimper, however, Bevin took the opportunity to call the state’s election process into question with the final remark of his press conference.

Kentucky Governor-elect Andy Beshear speaks during a press conference in Louisville on Nov. 6, 2019. (AP Photo/Bryan Woolston)

“There is not any real sense of transparency with how the voting process works,” Bevin told reporters. “We do not have checks and balances, and … whether you vote one way or the other, we should make sure we have integrity in the election process.”

Speaking ahead of the recanvass last weekend in California, Bevin was adamant he would not go down without a fight.

“I would rather lose a clean election than to win a dirty election,” he said at an event hosted by the Young Americans Foundation, “and I’ll be darned if I want to lose a dirty election. So to that end, let’s just make sure it’s legit.”

Bevin also told the Associated Press on Wednesday he knew “for a fact” that some ballots were counted illegally, although he failed to provide specifics.

The governor seemed to fight the battle on his own, however, as members of his own party refused to support an effort for a recount if the recanvass came up short.

Even Senator Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican from Kentucky, was unconvinced the recanvass would alter the result and said he was “sorry Matt came up short.”

Results from the recanvass started to come in around 9:30 a.m., and the entire process was finished in the early afternoon hours.

The campaign between Bevin and Beshear, the state’s attorney general, was contentious and littered with attack ads.

Beshear focused his campaign on education and providing benefits and raises for the state’s public school teachers, while Bevin touted his funding of the state’s pension system for public employees.

In the days leading up to the election, Bevin and Republican groups made a last-ditch effort to tie Beshear to Washington Democrats and, specifically, the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump.

Trump made a visit to the Bluegrass State on the eve of the election, but his rally in Lexington wasn’t enough to put Bevin – consistently ranked as the most unpopular governor in the country – over the hump.

Beshear will have his work cut out for him when he takes office, as Republicans still control both state legislative chambers and also swept the remaining 2019 elections to put conservatives in the positions of attorney general, secretary of state, auditor and treasurer.

The outgoing attorney general is the son of Steve Beshear, Bevin’s Democratic predecessor in the governor’s mansion.

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