Trump Support May Not Rescue Embattled GOP Governor in Kentucky (1)

  • Secretary of State sets Nov. 14 for recanvass in Kentucky
  • In Mississippi, Republican won 53% of the vote for governor

(Updates with vote recanvass scheduled in Kentucky.)

Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin will get a double-check of the votes after the original canvass showed him losing his bid for re-election.

State Attorney General Andy Beshear (D) won the governorship by about 5,000 votes out of 1.4 million cast, according to unofficial returns.

Bevin’s campaign manager issued a statement citing unspecified irregularities. Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Grimes announced on Twitter that the recanvassing would take place Nov. 14.

Beshear added governor-elect to his Twitter profile and said in a tweet, “We took some time this morning to talk through our plan for the transition and can’t wait to get started building a government that works for everyone.”

Andy Beshear Celebrates(Photo by John Sommers II/Getty Images)
Democrat Andy Beshear celebrates with supporters Nov. 5, 2019 in Louisville, Kentucky.

Bevin went into Tuesday’s election with one of the lowest approval ratings among all governors, after blunt criticisms of teachers who protested his pension overhaul policies.

His party fared better in Mississippi, where Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves (R) will take over the state’s highest office after eight years in the No. 2 post. He defeated Attorney General Jim Hood (D) with 53% of the vote.

The races provided a mixed result for President Donald Trump, who stumped in both states and carried both Kentucky and Mississippi by double-digits in the 2016 presidential race. “Won 5 out of 6 elections in Kentucky, including 5 great candidates that I spoke for and introduced last night,” the president tweeted late Tuesday. “@MattBevin picked up at least 15 points in last days, but perhaps not enough (Fake News will blame Trump!). Winning in Mississippi Governor race!”

A third race in Louisiana, where the president is backing businessman Eddie Rispone (R) over incumbent John Bel Edwards (D), will be decided when voters go to the poll Nov. 16. Trump will appear Nov. 6 at a rally in Monroe, La.

Pension Peril

On the campaign trail, Beshear touted half a billion dollars in new revenue he’d commit to digging Kentucky out of its more than $40 billion in unfunded pension liabilities. If the official count confirms a victory, he’ll have to sell those ideas to a hostile legislature.

State Senate President Robert Stivers and Senate Majority Floor Leader Damon Thayer released a joint statement saying there’s “absolutely no chance” that Beshear would get expanded casino gaming he claims could rake in more than $500 million annually.

Beshear responded, saying that Republicans opposing his ideas would be “held accountable” for their comments. Thayer responded by tweet, “Are we supposed to feel threatened or scared?? PS…I am neither.”

State Sen. Morgan McGarvey (D) shrugged off that back-and-forth as campaign rhetoric. “The big issues require buy-in from both parties to be successful, and we don’t have money to fund the basic needs of government as it is,” McGarvey said in a phone interview.

For additional revenue, Beshear has said he wants to eliminate some expenditures, such as sales tax exemptions for luxury items like private jets, and he wants to limit tax incentives to companies that pay a living wage.

Mississippi Health

Reeves made supporting Trump’s national policies the centerpiece of his campaign.

He latched onto immigration raids that detained hundreds of food processing plant workers in Mississippi and called for more stringent enforcement of state laws against hiring people who can’t work legally in the U.S. He also railed against any Medicaid expansion, arguing in TV ads that “Obamacare was a mistake.”

Hood tried to present himself as a reasonable option for Mississippi Republicans unhappy with Reeves’ leadership. His recent ads touted Hood’s gun ownership and GOP-supported plans to fund rural hospitals, but that message wasn’t enough to overcome Reeves’ push to localize Trump’s policies to Mississippi.

To contact the reporters on this story: Jennifer Kay in Miami at; Alex Ebert in Columbus, Ohio at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Katherine Rizzo at; Kyle Trygstad at; Loren Duggan at