With one candidate claiming a few thousand-vote victory and the other unwilling to concede, Tuesday’s gubernatorial election night provided all the fireworks and theatrics we expected between two heavyweights.
With 100% of precincts reporting, Democrat Andy Beshear clings to a 5,333-vote lead — a margin of less than 0.4 percentage points — over Republican incumbent Gov. Matt Bevin. As of Wednesday, The Associated Press still had not declared a winner in a race that saw two rivals go head-to-head for the state’s top office.
Of the 1.44 million votes cast statewide, Beshear has a slight edge, 709,577 (or 49.19%) to 704,388 (48.83%). Third-party Libertarian candidate John Hicks earned 28,425 votes (1.97%).
Secretary of State Allison Lundergan Grimes, who called the race in Beshear’s favor Tuesday night, had her prediction of a 31% voter turnout blown out of the water as 1.45 million (42.16%) of Kentucky’s 3.45 million registered voters cast ballots.
Locally, Franklin County had the highest voter turnout percentage in the state with 21,175 (55.78%) of the county’s 37,964 registered voters, 21,175 going to the polls. In fact, Franklin was one of just six counties that had a 50% or higher voter turnout percentage. Woodford, Hancock, Anderson, McLean and Metcalfe counties were the others.
Franklin was also decidedly blue with Dems taking all races with the exception of two contests that Republican incumbents won — state treasurer (Allison Ball) and commissioner of agriculture (Ryan Quarles). Auditor candidate Sheri Donahue, who only won in four the state’s 120 counties counties; attorney general contender Greg Stumbo, who totaled six counties; and secretary of state candidate Heather French Henry, who carried 12 counties, all won here.
In a speech — not of the concession variety — to supporters Tuesday night, Bevin hinted that there might be “irregularities” with the election results and called for a recanvass Wednesday afternoon. However, Grimes’ office, which has overseen more than 20 recanvasses during her tenure — none of which flipped the outcome of a race — said “the margin is large enough to not have a reasonable expectation that it can be closed with anything outstanding.”
Even those in his party are calling on Bevin to concede. On social media state Rep. Jason Nemes, R-Louisville, posted: “Governor-elect Beshear is entitled to the democratic legitimacy that comes with loser’s consent. So let’s go through the process honorably and expeditiously and give it to him.”
We say that once the recanvass is complete the results should stand.