Incumbent Republican governor of Kentucky Matt Bevin has proven himself a true acolyte of Trump, refusing to concede the election he lost to the state’s Democratic attorney general Andy Beshear by some 5,100 votes on Tuesday. Muddying one of the night’s most resounding Democratic victories, Bevin suggested baselessly on Wednesday night that there were “irregularities” in the voting process that led to his defeat. His insistence on an official recanvass and recount of the results, coupled with the GOP-controlled Kentucky legislature’s suggestion that they may be the ones to decide the election’s outcome, has prompted pushback from both sides of the aisle, with lawmakers condemning Bevin and his ilk’s transparent efforts to override the will of the people of their state.
Matt Bevin has declined to concede, keeping with a long tradition of men who refuse to take no for an answer.— The Volatile Mermaid (@OhNoSheTwitnt) November 6, 2019
Bevin’s claims of election interference are vague and ill-supported at best. Per Politico:
Without providing details, Bevin cited “thousands of absentee ballots that were illegally counted,” reports of voters being “incorrectly turned away” from polling places and “a number of machines that didn’t work properly.” He said his campaign would provide more information as it is gathered, and he did not take questions from reporters.
“We simply want to ensure that there is integrity in the process,” Bevin said at the close of his statement. “We owe this to the people of Kentucky.”
Soon after Bevin announced his intention to contest the election, Kentucky Senate President Robert Stivers told the Louisville Courier-Journal that, according to his staff’s research, the election may be decided (read: stolen) by the Republican legislature: “There’s less than one-half of 1%, as I understand, separating the governor and the attorney general. We will follow the letter of the law and what various processes determine.” He also called Bevin’s refusal to concede “appropriate,” which is certainly a word in the English language, though not one that applies here.
2020 presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, who campaigned for Beshear, didn’t mince words about Bevin and Stivers’ brazen attempts to manipulate the democratic process, calling them “outrageous”:
It is outrageous that Republicans are threatening to effectively overturn the Kentucky election. In a democracy, we cannot allow politicians to just overrule election results. The will of voters must be respected. https://t.co/pAicPF6VFt— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) November 6, 2019
A member of Bevin’s own legislature has also come out against his actions. Rep. Jason Nemes called for Bevin to put his evidence where his mouth is in a Facebook post, writing:
Loser’s consent is a core principle of democracy. The winning candidate is entitled to govern with the recognition of others who ran and lost, no matter how painful that may be.
This was a close election, and a recanvass may be appropriate. I am told that can be done within a week. Let’s get that done immediately. And if there is evidence of fraud or illegalities, as was alluded to last night, Governor Bevin should state his claim immediately and let the evidence be reviewed. But this is not an opportunity for a fishing expedition or a chance to overturn the election result.
Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes says the recanvass is scheduled for Nov. 14, per Politico. Once the recanvass and recount is complete, and the vote is certified by the state (scheduled to occur Nov. 25), Bevin has 30 days under Kentucky state law to formally contest the election, though at that time, he’ll need to provide some actual, specific grounds instead of crying “irregularities.”
Do those irregularities exist? Would it matter if they did? Does anything?
When asked about Bevin’s comments on “irregulations” in the election (which he wouldn’t specify on), Grimes told me:“We fielded calls and concerns up to and on Election Day, but I am unaware of any complaint that would alter a 5,000-vote margin.”— Ben Tobin (@TobinBen) November 6, 2019
Beshear, meanwhile, has already put his transition team into action. “Whatever process that the governor chooses to go down, it’s not going to change this overall number of votes,” Beshear told reporters Wednesday, per the AP. “We are going to take the steps to move forward to make sure that we are ready … on the day that we’re inaugurated.”