Tuesday night was an up-and-down election night for the GOP, with incumbent Gov. Matt Bevin (R-Ky.) refusing to concede Kentucky’s gubernatorial contest after his challenger Attorney General Andy Beshear (D-Ky.) declared victory while Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves (R-Miss.) won Mississippi’s governor’s race by beating out rival Attorney General Jim Hood (D-Miss.). Elsewhere, in Virginia, Democrats won both chambers of legislature for the first time in more than 20 years.
Bevin, who took a hard stand against abortion and immigration, was endorsed by President Donald Trump, who called on an “angry majority” of voters to reelect the incumbent, but he came up short at the end of the night with just 48.9% (707,297 votes) next to Beshear’s 49.2% (711,955) and Libertarian candidate John Hicks’ 2% (28,475 votes).
But Bevin has not thrown in the towel.
“Bevin cited ‘irregularities’ – potentially kickstarting weeks of uncertainty as the closely watched contest with national implications remains too close to call,” Fox News reported. “The Associated Press said it could not declare a winner, owing to the tight margin, [but] the Democratic National Committee and other top Democrats … claimed victory.”
Fierce opposition on the left was quick to revel in Bevin’s failure to meet Beshear’s vote count, including Amy McGrath – GOP Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s longshot Democratic contender for his seat in 2020.
“[A Democrat] just defeated one of the most unpopular Republicans in the country," McGrath proclaimed late Tuesday night. "All I have to say is: Mitch, you’re next."
But Bevin is seeing about his options.
“Although Bevin has not outlined his next steps, Kentucky law provides for a variety of possible challenges – including a recount, a recanvass or a legal challenge to the election based on irregularities,” Fox News’ Gregg Re noted. “There is no automatic recount process under Kentucky law.”
Trump and Republicans knew Bevin would need all the help he could get in Tuesday’s contest.
“Although Trump carried deep-red Kentucky by 30 points in the 2016 presidential election, Bevin has long been unusually unpopular for a Republican in the state, owing in part to his numerous spats with striking public school teachers and his plan to address a growing pension crisis,” Re informed.
Despite running for governor, Bevis wasn’t even the most popular Republican on Tuesday’s ballot.
“Bevin significantly underperformed the rest of the GOP ticket on the ballot in Kentucky on Tuesday, as Republican candidate Daniel Cameron handily won his race to become the state's next attorney general,” Re noted. “Cameron made history as the first African American to be elected Kentucky Attorney General and the first Republican to hold the post in more than 70 years.“
Bevin’s difficulty garnering public support was seen when stacking up his Tuesday night numbers next to Cameron’s.
“In a major indicator that Bevin is unpopular among Kentuckians, Cameron received 774,864 votes in his 15-percentage-point win – while Bevin garnered only approximately 700,000 votes for his marquee gubernatorial bid,” Re added. “It is highly unusual for down-ballot races to attract more voter interest than gubernatorial contests.”
Making a mark in Mississippi
Meanwhile, Reeves cruised to a comfortable near-double-digit victory Tuesday night, outperforming Hood 53.6% to 45.1% -- even though Hood was the best-funded Democrat to run for governor in Mississippi in the past 10 years.
Reeves is taking over for current Gov. Phil Bryant (R-Miss.), who cannot serve more than the two terms he is finishing serving, according to state law.
“I want to be the governor for all Mississippians, and I’m going to work hard every day to do that,” Reeves told The Associated Press during his victory party.
The second-term state treasurer was thankful to have Trump and Vice President Mike Pence campaign in Mississippi this week.
“President Trump’s rally and endorsement in Mississippi undoubtedly had an impact and helped Governor-elect Tate Reeves nail down his victory,” Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale declared in a statement, according to AP. “Governor Reeves will be a tremendous conservative leader for Mississippians in fighting for freedom and keeping taxes low.”
The younger Reeves emphasized small government during his bid, while his opponent had name recognition for being around many years as attorney general.
“Reeves, 45, campaigned on keeping taxes low and limiting government regulation of businesses [and] said that a vote for Hood is akin to a vote for ‘liberal’ national Democrats, including U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi,” the AP informed. “Hood, 57, is finishing his fourth term as attorney general, [and] for three of those terms, he has been the only Democrat holding statewide office in Mississippi.”
Dems victorious in Virginia
Democrats were victorious on multiple levels Tuesday night against their GOP rivals.
“The Democratic Party flipped both chambers of the Virginia legislature on Tuesday, winning total control of the statehouse for the first time in nearly 25 years,” TheBlaze reported. “Prior to Tuesday's vote, Republicans held narrow majorities in both the Virginia Senate and the House of Delegates. Now, the Democrats not only run the commonwealth's General Assembly, but hold the governorship, lieutenant governorship, attorney general, and both U.S. Senate seats.”
Things are looking up for Virginia Democrats in the House, as well.
According to The Hill, "Democrats also hold seven of Virginia's 11 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives," The Hill pointed out.
Scandal-plagued candidates did not seem to deter Democratic voters from moving their candidates forward.
"Democrats were able to pull off this victory, despite scandals among the three top statewide officials in their party," NPR stressed. “Gov. Ralph Northam (D) and Attorney General Mark Herring (D) were both embroiled in blackface scandals earlier this year, while Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax(D) continues to fight resurfaced allegations of sexual assault, which he has repeatedly denied. All three resisted calls to resign.”
The far-left-leaning governor declared total victory Tuesday night.
"Tonight, the ground has shifted in Virginia government," Northam proclaimed, according to NBC News. "Voters want us to defend the rights of women, LGBTQ Virginians, immigrant communities, and communities of color. They want us to increase access to a world-class education for every child, and make sure no one is forced to go bankrupt because they or a family member gets sick. They want us to invest in clean energy and take bold action to combat climate change. And they want us to finally pass commonsense gun safety legislation, so no one has to fear being hurt or killed while at school, at work, or at their place of worship."