A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Democrat Andy Beshear takes governor’s office; Republicans win all down-ticket constitutional offices

Kentucky Today and Staff Report

Republicans took all constitutional offices Tuesday, but Democrats took the prize — the Governor’s race.

Democrats Andy Besher and Jacqueline Coleman won the Governor/Lt. Governor race with 711,995 votes to Republicans Matt Bevin and Ralph Alvardo’s 707,297 votes and Libertarians John Hicks and Ann Cormican’s 28,475 votes.

“I will be a governor who listens more than I talk and solves more problems than I create,” said Beshear. “I ran on kitchen-table issues: pensions, health care, public education and creating good-paying jobs. That is how I will govern.”

Andy Beshear makes his victory speech.

Vote margins from Jefferson County (Louisville) and Fayette County (Lexington) were 135,253 in Beshear’s favor.

Beshear claimed victory but Bevin said he wouldn’t concede “by any stretch,” despite 100% of precincts reporting.

Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes called the race for Beshear, as her office does not believe the difference in vote can be made up by Bevin.

Under the law, Bevin has 30 days to formally contest the outcome once it is certified by the State Board of Elections.

Every one of the down-ticket races for constitutional offices went to Republicans, including Daniel Cameron for attorney general, Michael Adams for secretary of state, Mike Harmon for auditor, Ryan Quarles for agriculture commissioner and Allison Ball for treasurer.

Most of the races weren’t even that close.

Attorney General

-elect Cameron scored an impressive win over Democrat Greg Stumbo. He will replace Beshear in that office, becoming the first African-American to hold the office.

Secretary of State

 Adams defeated Heather French Henry in the closest of the down-ticket races in what some may have considered a mild upset.

 Henry had served as an executive in the state Department for Veterans Affairs in both Democratic and Republican administrations and was considered by many to be one Democrat who could win a statewide race, perhaps even a bigger favorite than Beshear.


 Harmon, the incumbent, was easily re-elected to office by cruising past Sheri Donahue.
 In his victory speech, he said, “There’s more work to be done, there’s more to do. We’re so excited, I’m so humbled.”

Agriculture Commissioner

 Quarles, also an incumbent, was one of the first to secure victory on election night. He won easy re-election over Democrat Robert Conway.

During his victory speech, Quarles said he would continue the policies of his first term, which included re-emergence of hemp and cutting down on credit card skimming at gas pumps.

“We hope to use agriculture for economic development to create jobs and opportunities for all of Kentucky.”

State Treasurer

 Ball had no trouble in being re-elected to her position, winning her second term by a 60-40 margin over Michael Bowman. She says she hopes to grow upon her first-term accomplishments, during her victory speech.

“I returned more unclaimed property than any other treasurer in a second term. So next time, I have to beat my own record.”

 She also vowed to keep expanding efforts on financial literacy, as well as the STABLE program she started, which is a savings plan for people with disabilities.

Other races

There were also some special elections held Tuesday.

In Western Kentucky, the 1st District Supreme Court race to fill the unexpired term of Bill Cunningham who retired earlier this year, Court of Appeals Judge Christopher Shea Nickell beat State Senator Whitney Westerfield.

A 3rd District Court of Appeals seat in southern Kentucky went to Jacqueline Caldwell, who defeated Michael Caperton.

Two special elections in State House races will remain in Republican hands. In Northern Kentucky’s 63rd District, Republican Kimberly Banta beat Democrat Josh Blair; while in the 18th District, Republican Samara Heavrin defeated Democrat Becky Miller.

Blue — counties in which Andy Beshear won the most votes. A total of margin of 135,253 came from Jefferson and Fayette counties; Red are the counties where Bevin took the most votes.

How Northern Kentucky voted in the Governor’s race:


Beshear: 16,947
Bevin: 23,000
Hicks: 970


Beshear: 16,352
Bevin: 14,587
John Hicks: 638


Beshear: 25,479
Bevin: 24,936
Hicks: 1,082

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  1. Aaron says:

    Great, back to the same ol’ status quo. Kentucky will go back down into the same old rut it’s been in for the last century. Stagnant everything, poverty will begin to grow again in the east, public employees will get some more fake promises that can never be fulfilled but they will “feel good”, most people will continue to be uneducated, businesses will go right past us to other states again, and in every national metric we will again creep into being in the last 10 percentile in everything staying a hair above Mississipi and Alabama in some things.
    On the bright site the general assembly, last night’s down ballot republicans, and local politicians are strongly republican. The house and senate are still super-majority republican, so all that happens now is mostly Nothing. For those that understand the legislative process.
    And for the teachers that see this as a “win”, just wait, the pension system will collapse as sure as the sun sets, it’s only a matter of time, and Kentucky is first in line out of all of the nations different pension systems, and instead of slowly being corrected now, it will implode like a black hole, and your union leaders that herd you like sheep will be long gone with their hoards of cash they made during the entire slow motion train wreck that you refused to see, congrats.

  2. Dean Knolls says:

    Bevin ticked off teachers when he made his famous repugnant statement while teachers were off work. Being a Republican, I found it impossible to vote for him as well. That one statement probably cost him a second term.

    • Aaron says:

      Dean, He was speaking on behalf of the the other 49% of people that voted for him, 700,000 some odd Kentuckians. Any normal person could care less if he sounded “mean” by it, but sure maybe that was his mistake by getting too emotional and outspoken about the giant problem that is a chain and ball (pension) on a state that barely has it’s nose above water.
      Trump speaks and spoke three times as brash as trump and got elected by the nation. Insensitive words don’t disqualify anyone from actually fixing problems or being a leader.
      If any private sector person took off work to protest their own employer or boss, they would be fired on the spot. Teachers work 8 months out of the year, can retire before their 50 years old with a guaranteed pension, don’t get fired when there’s a downturn in the economy, their retirement account doesn’t go down by 25% in a downturn, they get amazing health insurance for an extremely low cost, get tenured and can’t barely get fired, their principals handle all the parents, so on and so fourth. And when their pension system fails they get to go to the entire state and say hey we want you to pay us more taxes so we can continue to get practically free retirement and retire early because we voted for people that lied to us for decades
      . People that bust themselves at work all day long in the private world and have to pay for that through taxes and politicians can kicking don’t like it. That’s the 700,000 people he was talking for.
      I will bet every single dollar and possession I have that when our pension system tanks (in probably 8-10 years it will climax) the teachers will be up in arms again yelling “why is this happening, it’s not fair, it should have never gotten to this point, I was promised a pension and now it’s not there anymore” and they will be repeating the same exact words and policy as Bevin, and not even know it because they got all of their information from their fellow teacher’s facebook posts and their Union propaganda.
      It’s an honor to have such “responsible adults” teaching our own children.
      If it weren’t for the federal government bailing Kentucky out and supporting our horribly poor eastern Appalachia region, we probably wouldn’t even have any money for schools to begin with.
      The pension system is fundamentally flawed and we just blew our only chance of saving it. Here’s to the same old bottom of the list Kentucky that we were so close to finally getting away from. Cheers.
      It’s not “Bye-Bevin” it’s “Bye Pension System”. What a joke.

  3. Josh Burger says:

    Andy Beshear won’t be able to do diddly squat. Since all down ticket republican candidates won by a mile that’s a sure signal that the next house and senate races will ensure republicans keep a super majority in the general assembly.
    All he will do is talk about Andy Candy to keep public servants wishfully hoping unicorns will run the countryside & that Santa Claus is real, smile, maybe get a couple casinos built that will probably go bankrupt after he’s out of office, and he and his daddy can sit on chairs on their porch and talk about how cool they are.
    Bevin losing the election only means practically zero new policy will get passed. It will simply be an idle period in Kentucky politics.

  4. Marv Dunn says:

    Joe Gerth in his column today in the Louisville Journal summed it up nicely.
    “Matt Bevin didn’t lose because his policies are out of step with Kentucky voters.
    He didn’t lose because in his four years, he didn’t govern as he promised when
    elected in 2015. He didn’t lose because of scandal.
    Matt Bevin lost because he is a jerk.”

    I was happy to see that, in regards to the Governor’s race, Kenton and Campbell counties went blue. I had always felt that we in Northern Kentucky were out of the loop because we were dominated by Cincinnati media. We just might be “catching on.”

  5. T H Woodside says:

    November 5, 2019 most Kentuckians voted their emotions and ignored facts. Sad!

  6. Phil Charles says:

    As for the Northern Kentucky counties, I think that mentioning tolls for bridge in the final debate was a bad move, since the governor made a campaign promise to avoid tolls.

    As for the teacher business, he said a few bad things and I think it’s hard to dispute that. But actions speak louder than words. He was the only governor in many years to fully fund the pension, after Democrats had spent years not doing so. And if the state goes back to not fully funding the pension, disaster will follow.

    Considering that Republicans won all other races handily, I’d say that this doesn’t actually bode well for the Democrats moving forward.

  7. Emmy says:

    Bye By Pension System
    Bye By State Solvency
    Bye By local Economies
    Bye By any real life commitments with actual backing to public employees.

    Welcome Andy Candy Can Kicker 2.0 (for the fam) and like 18.0 for the State. yayyyyy

    The cheese is never “Free”. Great job teachers, you just threw not only a wrench but the entire toolbox into the the only engine that was bringing this state out of fiscal irresponsibility and chaos.

    Hopefully another businessman/woman steps up to the plate in 4 years instead of another CAREER POLITICIAN 🙁

  8. Mark Yaden says:

    Fast forward to 2025.
    “And in other news, Kentucky becomes the first state to go entirely bankrupt because they kept electing career politicians who decade after decade only funded their fake promises to public employees by tiny fraction and handed off a ticking time bomb to future Kentuckians.”
    If you’re a relatively newer teacher and voted for beshear, you just took a bulldozer to a bridge down the road that you have to cross; aka your pension.
    And no, you can’t raise taxes in the future to cover it. You raise taxes to pay out an enormous fake problem then employers begin to leave the state, current employers stop hiring, people stop buying things and the whole system sinks. It’s unfathomable that our educators cannot see this logic.
    And if we think the federal government will bail us out, we just hit i don’t know how many Trillion in national debt, and even if they do give us money there will be plenty of strings attached and the money won’t keep coming, we will have to fundamentally change the system: THE EXACT THING BEVIN WAS DOING AND WAS GOING TO CONTINUE DOING.
    Lastly, we’re due for a fairly sizable recession any day now, so that will only throw gasoline on the pension problem. Have fun dealing with 20% less tax revenue. AND the entire private market is going to large corporations that can pick up and move to a different state in a blink of an eye. Small business that stays local is already swallowed up and dead, medium businesses are being bought out or closing. It’s going to be a sight to see scratching for taxes to fund Andy Candy!
    Emotions-Feelings-attitude>Logic-real world-how things actually work

  9. Brenda Thorn says:

    Pretty sure half the republicans who diverted to beshear are looking out the sides of their eyes thinking Oops, should i have really of done that. Welcome to another 100 years of Kentucky being the broke loser of these 50 United States who has more public than private employees! That tax math works really well!

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