Democrats statewide are celebrating the apparent unseating of the Republican incumbent Gov. Matt Bevin in Tuesday's election. If there were only one race to win -- and it looks like that will be their only one -- that is the upset they would pick.
Bevin has not yet conceded. With Democrat Andy Beshear holding a lead of less than 5,200 votes, Bevin has requested a recanvass, scheduled for Thursday. Despite Bevin's claims of "a number of significant irregularities" and suggesting Secretary of State Alison Grimes might be part of some conspiracy to steal the election, past history indicates that the recanvass is not likely to change the results. When Bevin won the 2015 Republican primary by 86 votes, a recanvass changed nothing.
But despite the eventual final numbers, here are four (of many possible) takeaways from Tuesday's results.
A rebuke of Bevin
There is no way to read Tuesday's results besides as a rebuke of Bevin. We don't know whether it was his policies or his acerbic style that turned off Kentucky voters. But they had clearly had enough.
Turnout was surprisingly high throughout the state. A governor who seemed to go out of his way to insult vast swaths of the population could be a good explanation for voters' motivation. In 2015 there were fewer than a million votes cast. Last Tuesday more than 1.4 million voters turned out. Bevin actually got more votes than in 2015. In his first race, 511,374 votes were enough to put him over the top. This time around his unofficial election night totals stood at 704,388. But Beshear was able to get more of those additional voters to reach 709,577.
It's not necessarily that Beshear wooed former Bevin voters. It's that enough people decided after these last four years that they were not going to sit on the sidelines.
Trump's coattails only extend so far
Bevin clung -- sometimes literally physically -- to President Donald Trump in the race. Last summer one poll named him the most unpopular governor in the country, and Bevin sought to nationalize a state race by capitalizing on Trump's popularity with Kentucky voters.
Bevin actually thought the president's impeachment would help the governor by activating Republicans. Bevin brought Trump in for a Lexington rally the night before.
Maybe it helped. But it wasn't enough.
It only takes a few
Bevin has been a bully for four years. One of his favorite targets has been teachers.
He actually accused them of complicity in child molestation when they called in sick en masse to protest his proposals for changes to their pensions. He repeatedly bashed them.
You just can't treat teachers that way. They are a huge segment of voters, and their connections to the communities run deep. Think of it this way: Bevin lost by about 5,200 votes. There are 3,659 precincts in the state. That's fewer than two votes per precinct.
But it's not just teachers. It makes some sense to blame his loss on the Libertarian Candidate Jim Hicks siphoning 28,425 votes statewide. A good portion of those -- perhaps up to 5,200 -- might have gone to Bevin.
But Bevin dumped his lieutenant governor Jenean Hampton and fired her staff. He tossed the tea party darling out like garbage. Then he went and lost her home county of Warren by 1,131 votes. Coincidence? In every precinct there were at least one, two or three votes for Hicks that were probably influenced by Bevin's own actions. He has no one to blame but himself.
Democrats are in trouble
Look at the thumping that Democratic warhorse Greg Stumbo took, and it is easy to think that the time is long gone for the old guard of the Kentucky Democratic Party to step aside.
Even Heather French Henry, a former Miss America with widespread name recognition who is one of the most pleasant people to ever campaign, couldn't best Michael Adams for secretary of state. "Who?" you ask. Exactly.
The youth and energy are largely on the Republican side, and Democrats need to make way for new names, faces and ideas if they want to be competitive against anybody other than the most unpopular governor in the country.
It might be time for some Joe Biden supporters to take a hard look in the mirror.
-- Kentucky Standard (Bardstown)