Democrats won the Kentucky governorship and a double victory in Virginia in Tuesdays election, sparking hopes for momentum going into 2020.
In Kentucky, Democrat Andy Beshear beat incumbent Republican Governor Matt Bevin in an upset by a margin of 49.2 percent to 48.8. So far, Gov. Bevin has refused to concede, although Kentucky’s Secretary of State has called it for Beshear, as well as the major broadcast networks. There is no provision for an automatic recount, though Bevin can ask for one, even though recounts rarely reverse official tallies. His smarter advisors may tell him that sour grapes is not a good look for his future, or his party.
Beshear likely got a big bump from voters who had good reason to be concerned about their health security. As Tara Golshan writes at Vox, “At the end of the day, in the eyes of Kentuckians, Bevin remained an extremely unpopular governor. He threatened to cut Medicaid expansion in the state, which would have likely pushed about 400,000 people off their health insurance.” Eric Bradner notes at CNN Politics that Beshear has pledged to “ease Medicaid access, overhaul the state’s education leadership and restore the voting rights of former felons who have done their time.” Bradner adds that Bevin pissed of Kentucky teachers, accusing them of “being “selfish” and having a “thug mentality” because they objected to Bevin’s plan to slash their pensions.
The White House is equally bitter about Beshear’s victory, since Trump, who won Kentucky by 30 percent in 2016, spent the day before Tuesday’s election promoting Bevin. “If you lose, they’re going to say Trump suffered the greatest defeat in the history of the world. This was the greatest. You can’t let that happen to me,” he told Bevin at their rally,” Bradner reports.
Bradner adds that Tuesday’s election provides a “bad sign for the party across the board. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, the most powerful Kentuckian in politics and a veteran of tough elections, is on the ballot next year. And while Tuesday’s results don’t necessarily forecast trouble for McConnell, they do likely mean Amy McGrath, a leading Democratic challenger, will likely see a fundraising boon.” Political analyst Ruy Teixeira cautions, however, “I wouldn’t read too much into this for 2020….but, it’s not a good sign for Trump’s effect on the GOP brand.”
“In Virginia, Democrats won majorities in both the House and Senate,” Bradner writes, “giving the party full control of the state’s government and solidifying what had once been a swing state as a stronghold for the party. Their wins open the door for new gun control laws, an increased minimum wage and other progressive measures that Republicans had previously blocked.”
In another CNN article, Bradner and Ryan Nobles report that “The victories put Gov. Ralph Northam and Democrats in the Legislature in position to pursue a progressive agenda — including gun control measures, which majority Republicans had blocked, and a higher minimum wage…With the “trifecta” of the House, Senate and governor’s office, Democrats will also control the redistricting process after the 2020 census, drawing the new maps for congressional and state legislative districts.”