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After Recanvass, Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin Concedes Race To Democrat Andy Beshear

After a recanvass of last week's election was largely completed, Kentucky Republican Gov. Matt Bevin is conceding to his Democratic challenger, Andy Beshear.
Timothy D. Easley

More than a week after Election Day, Republican Gov. Matt Bevin is conceding the Kentucky gubernatorial election to Democratic Attorney General Andy Beshear after a recanvass failed to significantly change the close final margin.

"We are going to have a change in the governorship based on the vote of the people," Bevin said at an afternoon news conference.

After last week's bitter race came down to about 5,000 votes, Beshear declared victory, but Bevin pointed to unspecific and unsubstantiated instances of "significant irregularities" and claimed without evidence that "thousands of absentee ballots ... were illegally counted." The fact that Republicans won every other statewide constitutional office on last Tuesday's ballot also cast doubt on the idea that there was some type of conspiracy afoot.

But now Bevin says he will not further contest the results, which could have thrown the contest into chaos. That option would have given the state legislature, where Republicans have the majority, the potential to decide the outcome of the race.

Instead, Bevin pledged to assist Beshear, who will take office next month, and said he wished his successor well and that he wouldn't be "publicly undermining or second-guessing" the Democrat's administration.

The Republican incumbent's concession brings to an end an especially bitter race that was colored by Bevin's extreme unpopularity in the state after he picked fights with teachers unions and some GOP lawmakers. Beshear was able to capitalize on that with a focus on education and health care. An election-eve rally by President Trump in a state he won by 30 points wasn't enough to save the boisterous governor.

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Jessica Taylor is a political reporter with NPR based in Washington, DC, covering elections and breaking news out of the White House and Congress. Her reporting can be heard and seen on a variety of NPR platforms, from on air to online. For more than a decade, she has reported on and analyzed House and Senate elections and is a contributing author to the 2020 edition of The Almanac of American Politics and is a senior contributor to The Cook Political Report.
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