Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin conceded his race for reelection on Thursday, clearing the way for Democrat Andy Beshear to be sworn into office next month after he defeated the incumbent by about 5,000 votes.
Appearing at a news conference, Bevin, a Republican who grew up in Shelburne, N.H., said the recanvass of the election results he requested last week was unlikely to change the outcome of the race.
“We’re gonna have a change in the governorship based on the vote of the people, and what I want is to see the absolute best for Kentucky,” Bevin said. “I am not going to contest these numbers that have come in.”
Bevin, who was seeking to become Kentucky’s first two-term Republican governor, lost to Beshear after a hard-fought election contest that in part hinged on allegations that the governor had an abrasive personality.
During his four years in office, Bevin repeatedly clashed with teachers and other public workers over efforts to revamp the state’s chronically under-funded pension system. Bevin had also campaigned as a staunch ally of President Donald Trump, who traveled to Lexington, Ky., on the eve of the election to campaign for him.
In the presidential race three years ago, Trump carried Kentucky by about 30 points. But Beshear, the state’s attorney general and the son of a former governor, racked up huge margins in Kentucky cities while also flipping two suburban counties outside of Cincinnati. Beshear also won several counties in rural, eastern Kentucky, including some Trump had won by nearly 50 points.
In hours after the Nov. 5 election, Bevin refused to concede while raising concerns about possible vote “irregularities.” Bevin demanded the state recanvass the results.
That recanvass began on Thursday morning, but did not uncover any major shifts in the vote totals, Bevin said.
In conceding, Bevin said he hoped to work closely with Beshear to assure a smooth transition before the Dec. 10 inauguration.
“I truly want the best for Andy Beshear as he moves forward,” Bevin said. “I genuinely want him to be successful. I want this state to be successful. I want this state to rise continuing on the trajectory that it is — above and beyond every stereotype, beyond every shortcoming we’ve had in the past.”
In a brief statement posted on Twitter after Bevin’s concession, Beshear said Bevin “and his team have already begun a smooth transition.”
“It’s official — thank you,” Beshear wrote. “It’s time to get to work.”
Beshear’s victory comes one year after Democrats picked up seven governorships in the 2018 midterm elections. In addition to Kentucky, governor’s races were also held this year in Mississippi and Louisiana.
In Mississippi, Republicans kept control of the governorship after the state’s lieutenant governor, Tate Reeves, was elected to replace Gov. Phil Byrant, a Republican, who was term-limited. Reeves defeated Democrat Jim Hood, the state’s attorney general, by about 5 points.
The outcome of the Louisiana governor’s race will not be known until at least Saturday when a runoff election is held.
In that race, incumbent John Bel Edwards, a Democrat, is fending off a challenge from Republican businessman Eddie Rispone, who has also campaigned as a strong ally of Trump.