Matt Bevin concedes Kentucky gubernatorial race one day after pushing voter fraud claim

Despite claiming "irregularities" and demanding a recanvass, Bevin said the final results were just as he expected

By Igor Derysh

Senior News Editor

Published November 14, 2019 4:23PM (EST)

Matt Bevin (Getty Images/Salon)
Matt Bevin (Getty Images/Salon)

Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin conceded to Democrat Andy Beshear after a statewide recanvass did not add one single vote to his total.

Bevin refused to concede the race after Election Day results showed him losing to Beshear by just 5,136 votes, according to the Louisville Courier-Journal. Bevin asked for a recanvass, which is similar to a recount, citing a “number” of unspecified voting “irregularities” and a “history of vote fraud in our state.”

On Wednesday, Bevin encouraged supporters to attend a news conference, where a group of his supporters alleged the vote total was impacted by voter fraud and “hacking,” though they did not provide substantiated evidence of either claim. Bevin tweeted that he may show up to the press conference, but he never did.

The recanvass concluded Thursday after finding a difference in one of the more than 1.4 million votes, which was for write-in candidate Blackii Effing Whyte. Bevin conceded the race that afternoon.

Despite repeatedly casting doubt on the election results, Bevin claimed that the numbers were “about what we had expected, and it’s what typically we see in recanvasses.”

"I'm not going to contest these numbers that have come in," he said at a news conference. "It isn't fair to throw that on our legislature to try to find something that there just isn't. We know of some things but just not enough to cause us to think there's going to be meaningful change."

"I truly wish the attorney general well as the next governor of this state as he assumes these responsibilities," he continued. "I truly do. I love this state, I love this country, I love the fact that we're blessed to live in a nation where things do transition in ways that much of the world wishes they had. "

Bevin’s concession came after the state’s top Republicans, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and state Senate President Robert Stivers, urged Bevin to give up.

“It’s time to call it quits and go home, say he had a good four years and congratulate Governor-elect Beshear,” Stivers told reporters on Friday.

“And I think all indications are, barring some dramatic reversal on a recanvass, that we’ll have a different governor in three weeks,” McConnell added Monday.

The state’s Republican Party issued a statement praising Bevin for all that he “accomplished for our state in bringing jobs and opportunity to Kentucky in record-breaking fashion.”

But Bevin was highly unpopular among the state’s residents. Republicans won all but one of the eight statewide races this month, losing only Bevin’s election. Bevin ranked as the least popular governor in the U.S. after he pushed for cuts to Medicaid and retirement benefits for teachers. He also signed laws requiring mandatory ultrasounds for women seeking abortions, undercutting labor unions and allowing charter schools.

Bevin got a last-minute push from President Donald Trump, who held a rally in Lexington the day before the election.

"If you lose, they're going to say Trump suffered the greatest defeat in the history of the world,” the president said at the rally. “You can't let that happen to me!"

After Bevin’s apparent loss on election night, Trump claimed that he helped Bevin pick up “at least 15 points,” though it is not clear which poll that could be. One of the few pre-election polls showed Bevin leading by five points. His campaign sought to distance itself from Bevin, claiming that Trump “dragged” him over the finish line.

Donald Trump Jr. downplayed his father’s backing of Bevin, whose combative style he said was “not always popular,” in an interview with Fox News.

He stressed that Bevin’s loss had “nothing to do with” his father.

By Igor Derysh

Igor Derysh is Salon's senior news editor. His work has also appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Boston Herald and Baltimore Sun.

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