Republican Gov. Matt Bevin conceded to Democratic nemesis Andy Beshear on Thursday, putting an end to Kentucky’s bitterly fought governor’s race.
Bevin, an ally of President Trump’s, made the dramatic announcement outside his statehouse office on the same day election officials across Kentucky double-checked vote totals at his request.
“We’re going to have a change in the governorship based upon the vote of the people,” Bevin said at the news conference.
Members of Bevin’s administration watched solemnly as the pugnacious governor graciously wished Beshear — currently the state’s attorney general — well in his new role.
“I truly want the best for Andy Beshear as he moves forward. I genuinely want him to be successful, I genuinely want this state to be successful,” Bevin said.
Last week’s final election results showed Bevin trailing Beshear by more than 5,000 votes out of more than 1.4 million cast, a margin of less than four-tenths of one percentage point.
In the days after the election, Bevin had steadfastly refused to concede while asserting, without offering evidence, that there had been “irregularities” in the voting.
Bevin, however, faced a growing chorus of state Republicans urging him to accept the results of Thursday’s recanvass unless he could point to evidence of substantial voter fraud.
Beshear, the son of a former two-term Kentucky governor, already declared victory and has been preparing to become governor in December.
The Kentucky contest was watched closely for early signs of how the impeachment furor in Washington might affect Trump and other Republicans. Bevin railed against the inquiry and illegal immigration in trying to nationalize the race, while Beshear kept his focus on state issues such as education, healthcare and pensions.