AP news guide: Nov. 5 general election in Kentucky
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky Republican Gov. Matt Bevin narrowly trailed in his reelection bid Tuesday against Democratic Attorney General Andy Beshear in a race too close to call. Beshear declared victory, but Bevin did not concede the close contest. Despite strong backing from President Donald Trump, Bevin struggled while fellow Republicans had little trouble clinching down-ballot statewide wins in races for attorney general, secretary of state, agriculture commissioner, auditor and treasurer.
Here are some results from Tuesday’s election:
Democratic Attorney General Andy Beshear held a narrow lead over Republican Gov. Matt Bevin with all precincts reporting in the race for Kentucky governor and the race being too close to call. Beshear, the son of former Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear, had to overcome an 11th-hour endorsement for Bevin by President Donald Trump, who held a rally in Lexington, Kentucky, on Monday. Beshear maintained his focus throughout the race on “kitchen table” issues like health care and education to try to blunt Bevin’s efforts to hitch himself to Trump and nationalize the race. Bevin has enjoyed a strong economy and an electorate trending Republican in recent years. But he has feuded openly with teachers, dismissed fellow Republicans and made exaggerated claims that he later had to defend, giving Beshear openings to attack.
Republican Daniel Cameron was elected Kentucky attorney general, becoming the first African American in the state’s history to win the office. Cameron was backed by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and President Donald Trump. Cameron will also be the first Republican in 70 years to be the state’s top prosecutor when he takes office. Cameron defeated Democrat Greg Stumbo, who served as attorney general from 2004 to 2008 and is also a former speaker of the Kentucky House of Representatives. Cameron overcame challenges from Stumbo about his lack of experience and a lawsuit from a Louisville resident that said Cameron didn’t have enough years as a practicing attorney to run for the office. Cameron worked as McConnell’s general counsel and helped push through the nomination of Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch. He also played football at the University of Louisville.
SECRETARY OF STATE
Republican attorney and former elections board member Michael Adams won the race to become Kentucky’s next secretary of state. Adams played up his conservative connections and expertise in election law to overcome the more well-known candidate, former Miss America Heather French Henry. Although Henry ran on the Democratic ticket, she called herself a nonpartisan candidate. Adams called himself the only conservative and took a hard line on issues that included requiring photo identification to vote, cleaning up the voter rolls, keeping primaries closed and offering ballots in English only. He will succeed Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes, who is in her second term and could not run again due to term limits.
Republican Ryan Quarles won reelection as Kentucky commissioner of agriculture. Quarles defeated Democrat Robert Conway, a farmer from Scott County. Quarles said he has expanded the Kentucky Proud brand in his first term and touted the growth of the hemp industry in the state. He said about 1,000 Kentucky farmers are growing the crop. Quarles has said he supports legalizing marijuana for medical purposes but said it should be up to the General Assembly to make that decision. Conway was a strong supporter of medicinal marijuana for pain relief for cancer patients and others. Quarles has worked to expand markets available to farmers and said he is the first ag commissioner to have staff who focus on international trade.
Republican Mike Harmon won reelection as Kentucky auditor. Harmon defeated Democrat Sheri Donahue, a cybersecurity expert who audited weapons projects for the U.S. Navy. Harmon, a former state representative, said his job since getting elected in 2015 has been to “follow the data” wherever it leads. The auditor is in charge of overseeing audits of state agencies and county governments. Harmon’s office performed an audit of two of the state’s largest public pension systems and released the results in August. The audit reported the pension systems had not been properly disclosing information about how they invest money and pay investment managers. Harmon was a state legislator from central Kentucky before he was elected auditor.
Republican incumbent Allison Ball won a second term as Kentucky’s treasurer. Ball defeated Democrat Michael Bowman, a bank executive and former legislative aide on Louisville’s Metro Council. Ball, of Prestonsburg, said in her first term as treasurer she has been a watchdog of taxpayer dollars, has stopped fraud and embezzlement attempts and promoted financial literacy. Ball supported a recently passed state law that established the Kentucky Financial Empowerment Commission, which is charged with improving the financial literacy of Kentuckians. Ball was also named the chair of the National Association of State Treasurer’s Financial Education and Empowerment Committee.
Appellate judge Christopher Shea Nickell was elected to the Kentucky Supreme Court, defeating a prominent lawmaker. Nickell is currently a member of the state Court of Appeals. He defeated state Sen. Whitney Westerfield in Tuesday’s nonpartisan election to win a seat on Kentucky’s highest court. Both candidates said they follow the conservative judicial philosophy of the late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. Nickell will represent a 24-county district in western Kentucky. He’ll serve the remainder of retired Justice Bill Cunningham’s term that ends in 2022. Nickell was elected to the Court of Appeals in 2006 and reelected in 2014. Nickell said his appellate experience set up his “natural progression” to the Supreme Court. David Buckingham was appointed to fill Cunningham’s seat on the court until the election.
Two special elections for Kentucky House districts were decided Tuesday. In House District 18, Republican Samara Heavrin defeated Democrat Becky Miller. The district includes Grayson County and part of Hardin County. In House District 63, Republican Kim Banta defeated Democrat Josh Blair to represent parts of Kenton and Boone counties.