ANALYSIS: Governor’s Race Shows Kentucky’s Large And Growing Urban Rural Divide  Thursday, Nov 7 2019 

In his successful 2007 gubernatorial run, Steve Beshear lost 28 counties, winning the state’s other 92. He also lost only 28 counties in his winning reelection bid in 2011.

His son Andy Beshear, running in a similar Democrat-but-not-that-left style, won just 23 counties on Tuesday, losing the other 97. Andy Beshear’s path to victory included huge margins in Jefferson and Fayette counties, which combined he won by about 36 percentage points (68-32). But the attorney general lost the rest of the 118 counties to Gov. Matt Bevin by a combined 12 percentage points (44-56).

The Father Beshear v. Son Beshear comparison illustrates something important that is happening in Kentucky politics: a growing divide along party and density lines, with people in rural areas increasingly favoring the GOP and urban voters preferring Democrats. This is not a particularly surprising divide, since it’s happening across the country. In 2016, Hillary Clinton won urban areas by 26 points (60-34), while Donald Trump won rural areas by a similar margin (34-61).

Electorally, this growing divide is bad for Democrats and good for Republicans in Kentucky, since the percentage of people who live in rural areas is higher here than in all but seven states. That divide helps explain why Democrats lost the other five constitutional offices and barely defeated the deeply unpopular Bevin.

But in terms of policy and governance, this divide is probably bad for Democrats, Republicans and most importantly, the state’s people. The state’s Republican Party is in many ways split from the cities that drive the state’s economy, Louisville and Lexington. Democrats, even if they really want to help the rural areas of the state, have some incentive to really focus on the two big cities, since they are heavily reliant on Democrats in Louisville and Lexington whenever an election comes up.

For the state’s residents, this urban/rural divide means that Republicans have a big electoral incentive to cast the Democrats as totally obsessed with Louisville and Lexington and demonize those city’s residents. Kentucky is one of the poorest states in the nation. But it has a totally different group of lawmakers working on urban poverty (Democrats) and rural poverty (Republicans) when a more collaborative approach might be more useful.

Perry Bacon Jr. is a national political writer based in Louisville. You can reach him via Twitter or e-mail.

Beshear’s Real Effect On 2020 Elections? A Potentially Expanded Kentucky Electorate Thursday, Nov 7 2019 

Talking heads across the country are asking: What does Democrat Andy Beshear’s apparent gubernatorial win over incumbent Gov. Matt Bevin mean for 2020, when both Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell will be on Kentucky voters’ ballots?

The real answer may be “not much,” considering Bevin’s low likeability rating, and the unique circumstances surrounding this race. But one factor that could change as a result of Tuesday’s election is the makeup of Kentucky’s electorate, which could have reverberations in 2020 and beyond.

Beshear garnered more votes than incumbent Republican Matt Bevin on Tuesday. Bevin requested a recanvass on Wednesday, given the narrow margin favoring Beshear.

But if Beshear is inaugurated on December 10 as planned, he has committed to signing an executive order “in week one” that would automatically restore voting rights to more than 140,000 Kentuckians who have completed sentences for non-violent felony convictions.

About 7 percent of Kentucky’s population, or 312,000 adults, is disenfranchised due to felony convictions, according to a report by the nonpartisan League of Women voters earlier this year. The Sentencing Project estimates that more than one in four African Americans in Kentucky is not able to vote because of past convictions.

Dewey Clayton, who teaches political science at the University of Louisville, said he thinks restoring voting rights to so many who could not previously cast votes could have a significant impact on turnout and policies.

“It could have an impact on our election if these individuals, you know, truly get out here, register to vote, want to be involved in the political process and actually vote,” Clayton said.

Plus, he said the issues that drive the election could be affected by new voters because they might have different interests than the current voter pool.

Currently, Kentucky is one of just two states that permanently bans those with criminal convictions from voting. In late 2015, then-governor Steve Beshear — Andy’s father — signed an executive order that made about 180,000 individuals eligible for restoration of voting rights. Bevin overturned that as one of his first acts as governor.

Kentucky’s next Secretary of State, Republican Michael Adams, said he supports restoration of voting rights to some people, and wants to allow some non-violent offenders to reclaim their voting rights without having to apply to the governor, as is currently required. He is also in favor of amending Kentucky’s Constitution to allow automatic restoration, something he thinks voters could weigh in on as soon as next year.

Adams said the current law disproportionately harms African Americans, and said it would be better for everyone if people who were disenfranchised “without a good reason” were able to vote. He compared what he called “automatic disenfranchisement” to apartheid.

“We can’t have a different version of the system for some of us and then a different one for the others of us. I think it’s important to welcome these people back,” Adams said. “It’s good for democracy, at least a higher turnout and greater cooperation.”

Voter ID Laws

But even as restoring voting rights to some people convicted of felonies could expand Kentucky’s voting population, Adams said he’s in favor of another measure that could restrict the pool: requiring photo identification to vote. Adams called it a “common sense reform” to secure elections. He said he believes election fraud is the greatest risk to Kentucky’s election.

Some groups criticize photo ID policies on the basis they could suppress votes by minorities and the elderly, who are less likely to have compliant identification, but a recent study suggested the effect may not be as significant as previously thought.

Currently, Kentucky voters can verify their identities by being known to an election official or producing identification, which could be a social security or credit card and doesn’t need to have a photo. A change to voter ID law would require legislative action.

Adams said he is not pushing for “draconian” voter ID laws, and said he wants to help people acquire identification. He said Indiana — which requires voter IDs to include a photo and name, and to be issued by the state of federal government — is his model.

“What I’m trying to do is have a moderate sensible position of ‘Hey, let’s require a photo ID but make it easy,’” said Adams.

Adams did not specify how he would like to do that in Kentucky, but said he had heard of programs where groups travel to facilities such as nursing homes and process people’s IDs on site. He did not respond to a request for comment on Wednesday.

He also supports cleaning up Kentucky’s voter rolls by removing those who have died, moved out of Kentucky or are registered somewhere else.

Clayton, from the University of Louisville, said photo ID requirements can suppress turnout for those who have trouble affording or accessing official distributors. But he said addressing those issues can lessen the effect of suppression.

The bigger issue, he said, is that voter fraud is so rare that he does not think it is a sufficient justification for stricter identification laws.

Clayton said it is sad that at the same time Kentucky may give some people the right to vote, it could end up restricting voting access to others by requiring a photo ID.

“It’s going to be an onerous burden on a lot of your citizens,” he said. “And your ultimate goal, in my opinion, should be to increase the actual number of voters.”

Down 5,000 Votes, Bevin Makes Vague Claims Of Voter Fraud Wednesday, Nov 6 2019 

Without providing specific details or evidence, Gov. Matt Bevin is claiming that during Tuesday’s gubernatorial election thousands of absentee ballots were improperly counted and that eligible voters were turned away from polls.

The announcement comes after Democratic Attorney General Andy Beshear garnered more than 5,000 more votes than Bevin during the election according to unofficial results.

Bevin made the assertions during a press conference on Wednesday evening at the governor’s mansion, shortly after announcing that he had requested a formal recanvass of the vote totals.

Without providing evidence or answering questions, Bevin said there were “a number of significant irregularities” during the election and that his campaign was still gathering information.

“Those will be forthcoming in the days ahead,” Bevin said. “But that’s the cart getting in front of the horse because none of this will really be followed through on until after the recanvassing process.”

Bevin has not said whether he will pursue an election contest — a process where Kentucky’s Republican-led legislature would determine the outcome of the election.

Republican Senate President Robert Stivers hinted that Bevin might officially contest the election during an interview on Tuesday night.

During his sprawling announcement late Wednesday afternoon, Bevin made vague claims and comparisons, bringing up Kentucky’s history of voter fraud. Bevin singled out Magoffin County as a place where voter fraud takes place, brought up a prominent North Carolina election fraud case and suggested that Democratic Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes might be involved in some wrongdoing.

“For her to jump the gun on this and interject herself into this, a little suspect as well,” Bevin said.

Earlier on Wednesday, Beshear began the process of assembling his administration, naming a chair of his transition team and laying out his “first week” priorities like undoing Bevin’s Medicaid waiver.

Bevin said Beshear was doing the right thing by moving forward, but said he wasn’t ready to end the race.

“He should be putting together a transition team and he should be having conversations with the expectation that if he is the person with the most votes at the end of this that in fact he should be ready to take the responsibility of being governor,” Bevin said.

Official Complaints On Par With Other Years

The attorney general’s office is charged with monitoring and reviewing claims of voter irregularities and fraud.

The number of official election complaints reported to the attorney general’s office on Tuesday was only slightly larger than those made during the 2015 governor election.

The office can’t provide details on specific cases, but said it had received 123 calls to its election law violations hotline as of Wednesday, compared to 79 complaints during the 2015 gubernatorial election — a year with lower voter turnout.

For comparison’s sake, the AG’s office recorded 216 calls to the election fraud hotline after the 2016 election, and more than 500 calls during the 2018 election when voter turnout was nearly 48 percent.

“The most common questions received through the hotline were procedural or general legal questions,” said Deputy Attorney General J. Michael Brown. “We have not received any information regarding the referenced irregularities.”

Brown is also leading Beshear’s gubernatorial transition team.

The attorney general’s office has a rule that prevents Beshear from participating in the complaint intake process. Beshear has also recused himself from complaints involving the governor or the attorney general race.

With 100 percent of counties reporting, Beshear holds the lead with 5,189 more votes than Bevin. The Associated Press has so far declined to call the race for Beshear even as the attorney general moves forward with his transition plan.

Most of the complaint calls came after polls opened Tuesday morning. Many of the complaints involved election fraud allegations, election officials and the residency of voters. Others complained of disruptions at the polls and issues with voting machines. At least one person called the hotline with an allegation of “dead people voting.”

However, the total number of complaints in Tuesday’s election represent only a small fraction of the 1,455,161 votes cast — about 42 percent of Kentucky voters.

University of Louisville Political Science Professor Dewey Clayton said there are always going to be a certain amount of complaints, but fears of widespread election fraud are overblown. Clayton doesn’t believe the complaints received over the last two days are enough to be a cause for concern.

“I don’t think those are significant enough to warrant a change in the outcome or to be honest with you, to really warrant a recount, or a recanvass as it were,” Clayton said.

It’s possible that at least one complaint came from a Jefferson County polling location that was on lockdown this afternoon after a report of a person with a firearm near the school, said Nore Ghibaudy, Jefferson County Clerk spokesman.

Residents who planned on voting at Bowen Elementary School in Moorland were turned away for about 45 minutes before reopening, he said. Voters at that polling place received extra time to vote to make up for the difference.

But even in Jefferson County — the state’s largest population center — elections officials didn’t see anything too far out of the ordinary.

“No, no, nothing that we would consider to be irregular in Jefferson County or throughout the state. I haven’t gathered that from anybody,” Ghibaudy said.

At the end of his press conference on Wednesday, Bevin said he would respect the outcome of the race “if I’m confident the process has been served.”

“I’m confident that in the end the right results will be delivered and I will be entirely comfortable with whichever way they go,” Bevin said.

Bevin Officially Requests Recanvass Of Election Results Wednesday, Nov 6 2019 

Governor Matt Bevin is formally asking for an official recanvass of Tuesday’s gubernatorial election, which vote totals showed Democrat Andy Beshear as winning by just over 5,000 votes. A recanvass is a double-checking of the vote totals and rarely produces different results.

In a statement, Bevin’s campaign manager Davis Paine said: “The people of Kentucky deserve a fair and honest election. With reports of irregularities, we are exercising the right to ensure that every lawful vote was counted.”

Bevin and his campaign have provided no details about election irregularities they say took place during the race.

As of Wednesday, the number of election law complaints reported to the attorney general’s office was on par with those made in 2015.

University of Kentucky election law professor Joshua Douglas said other than a recanvass, Bevin’s only other option is contesting the election, which would be settled by the Republican-led legislature. Kentucky law has no provision for a recount in gubernatorial races. But Douglas was skeptical a recanvass would make much difference for Bevin.

“Well I think the 5,000 vote differential out of 1.4 million cast, yeah although it sounds small is actually a pretty large amount when it comes to the likelihood of the vote totals changing in any of these post-election disputes,” Douglas said.

Bevin currently trails Beshear by 5,189 votes.

Recanvasses are commonly requested in close races in Kentucky, but they have never produced a different election outcome and rarely produce a different vote total.

In 2015, Bevin’s opponent in the Republican Primary James Comer requested a recanvass of the contest that Bevin won by 83 votes, producing no change in vote totals.

In 2016, Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders requested a recanvass in Kentucky’s Democratic primary. The process yielded 13 more votes for Sanders.

In a statement, Beshear campaign manager Sam Newton expressed hope the recanvass would be the last step in the process.

“Last night, the people of Kentucky elected Andy Beshear as their next governor. Today, Governor-Elect Beshear is already working on his transition so that he can best serve the people of Kentucky on day one,” Newton said.

“We hope that Matt Bevin honors the results of the recanvass, which will show he received fewer votes than Andy Beshear. As has been reported, a ‘recanvassing has never changed the result of a Kentucky election.’”

The recanvass will take place on November 14th at 9 a.m.

This post has been updated.


Bevin’s Final Options: Recanvass Or Election Contest But No Recount Wednesday, Nov 6 2019 

Kentucky has some sorting out to do before inaugurating its next governor.

Democrat Andy Beshear declared victory Tuesday night while Republican Gov. Matt Bevin refused to concede. Results show Bevin trails by more than five-thousand votes.

During a speech to supporters on Tuesday, Bevin claimed that there are “irregularities” to look into but didn’t offer specifics.

On Wednesday afternoon, Bevin formally requested a recanvass. University of Kentucky elections law professor Joshua Douglas said he’s doubtful that a recanvass would lead to a different result for Bevin.

“Well I think the 5,000 vote differential out of 1.4 million cast, yeah although sounds small is actually a pretty large amount when it comes to the likelihood of the vote totals changing in any of these post-election disputes,” Douglas said.

Besides the recanvass, Douglas said Bevin’s only other option is an election contest. He says there’s no recount procedure for gubernatorial races under Kentucky law.

Senate President Robert Stivers has floated the possibility of an election contest, which would be settled by the Republican-led legislature.

Douglas says many states have a process for deciding elections that involves the legislature, but it’s rarely used.

The deadline to request an election contest is a month after the State Board of the Elections certifies the results of the race on November 25th.

That means Bevin would be able to request a contest after Beshear’s Inauguration Day, which is December 10th.

Kentucky Public Radio’s Ryland Barton contributed to this story.

Update: This story has been updated to reflect Bevin’s formal request for a recanvass.

Beshear Begins Building Administration, Despite Lack Of Bevin Concession Wednesday, Nov 6 2019 

Attorney General Andy Beshear is turning his attention towards setting up a new administration after vote totals showed him winning yesterday’s race for governor by more than 5,000 votes.

Incumbent Gov. Matt Bevin still hasn’t conceded the race. Last night he claimed, without evidence, that there were “irregularities” in the election that needed to be looked into.

Beshear has claimed victory and on Wednesday said that he is moving forward with the process of hiring officials for his administration and writing a budget proposal.

“Last night the election ended. It ended and it’s time to move forward with a smooth transition that we are here to do. So that we can do the people’s business,” Beshear said at a press conference at the Muhammad Ali Center in Louisville.

Beshear tapped his top deputy in the attorney general’s office, J. Michael Brown, to head up his transition team as they begin the process of taking over Kentucky’s executive branch.

The Kentucky Constitution prescribes governors to be inaugurated on the fifth Tuesday after Election Day. Beshear’s inauguration should take place on December 10th.

But on Tuesday evening, Republican state Senate President Robert Stivers suggested that Bevin might formally contest the election, a process that would put the Republican-led legislature in charge of the final results.

Bevin has not responded to requests for comment or made any public statements since Tuesday night.

Beshear said he had no idea what “irregularities” Bevin was talking about and contrasted the vote totals with the 2015 Republican Primary election, which Bevin won by 83 votes.

“I don’t know what information he’s working off of, I know about 5,000 votes isn’t terribly close. Eighty-something votes was that primary four years ago. We’re confident in the outcome of the election, but today is about moving forward,” Beshear said.

Beshear gave some hints about what his administration might look like, saying that he would hire cabinet secretaries that are Democrats, Republicans and Independents.

Beshear also laid out his “day one” priorities, saying he would rescind Bevin’s proposal for Medicaid work requirements, replace members of the Kentucky Board of Education and issue an executive order restoring voting rights to about 140,000 people with non-violent felonies on their records.

One of Beshear’s first tasks in office would be to craft a budget proposal that would be considered by the Republican-led legislature.

“That budget’s going to be absolutely critical in its support of public education and health care,” Beshear said.

Throughout his campaign, Beshear made several costly proposals, including an across-the-board $2,000 raise for teachers. He said he would pay for it by legalizing and taxing casino gambling in the state, but Republican leaders of the legislature say they won’t consider the proposal.

Democrat Andy Beshear Garners Most Votes As Republicans Sweep Down Ballot Races Tuesday, Nov 5 2019 

Democrat Andy Beshear got about 4,500 more votes on Election Day than incumbent Gov. Matt Bevin. Several media outlets called the race for Beshear, but the Associated Press deemed it too close to call late Tuesday as Republicans swept all other statewide races.

Bevin called the race “a squeaker” when he spoke first Tuesday evening but he promised not to concede.

“This is a close, close race,” Bevin said at the Republican gathering at the Galt House Hotel in Louisville. “We are not conceding this race by any stretch. Not a chance.”

But Beshear, the current attorney general and son of former Gov. Steve Beshear, claimed victory.

“From now on, the doors of your state capitol will always be open,” Beshear said to cheers at the Democratic party at the C2 event venue in downtown Louisville.

The State Board of Elections reported voter turnout was around 41 percent; far higher than predicted.

It was a contentious campaign for the two front-runners, with Bevin and Beshear frequently at odds and trading words.

As Attorney General, Beshear challenged Bevin through a series of lawsuits. He pushed for expanding gaming in Kentucky to bring in revenue, rather than raising sales taxes.

The two disagree on abortion, with Bevin favoring policies that would restrict access.

“It wouldn’t bother me one lick if there wasn’t an abortion provider in this state. It wouldn’t. Our state wouldn’t be less well-served by that,” he said last month at a campaign event.

Beshear is opposed to late-term procedures.

“When you’re the attorney general, you work with victims of that trauma and they deserve options,” he said during a debate last week.

Incumbent Bevin received a burst of support from prominent Republicans in recent days, including President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson. That did not end up being enough to carry the governor to victory.

Bevin is known for his conservatism, including his attempts to change programs like Medicaid in Kentucky.

Some voters who support educators said that they opposed Bevin because they perceived him of being disrespectful of teachers. His administration also sought to investigate teachers who participated in sickouts earlier this year to protest legislation at the Capitol.

Republican Michael Adams Wins Kentucky Secretary Of State Tuesday, Nov 5 2019 

Kentucky’s next Secretary of State is Republican Michael Adams. Adams, an election lawyer with ties to prominent conservative politicians, defeated Democrat Heather French Henry, a former state government official and Miss America.

The Secretary of State is Kentucky’s top election official, and also oversees administrative functions such as maintaining business filings.

Adams is an election lawyer in Louisville and serves as counsel for the Great America Committee, a political action committee created by Vice President Mike Pence.

Gov. Matt Bevin appointed Adams to the State Board of Elections, a post he resigned earlier this year to run for secretary of state.

Adams told WFPL last month he is proud of his connections to federal politicians.

“I think it’s a good thing for me to have those relationships, it would help Kentucky to have me in this office and help me get the support that we need from from Washington to help fund our improvement of our infrastructure in Kentucky,” Adams said.

He also said he is able to work with individuals from both parties and would not serve as Secretary of State in a partisan manner.

Adams will succeed Alison Lundergan Grimes, a Democrat, who is term-limited and could not seek reelection. The Secretary of State’s office has been under scrutiny in the past year, following accusations that Grimes improperly accessed voter registration data. After that, the Republican-led legislature made the Secretary of State a non-voting member of the State Board of Elections.

Both Adams and Henry said they would support restoring voting rights to the Secretary of State on the State Board of Elections in the future.

Joe Marshall Successfully Defends Seat On JCPS School Board Tuesday, Nov 5 2019 

Voters in the southwest side of Louisville have elected Joe Marshall to retain his seat on the Jefferson County Board of Education. Marshall prevailed over six challengers, winning with 41 percent of the vote.

JCPS board members unanimously appointed Marshall in August to an open seat vacated by Benjamin Gies. Under a new state law passed this spring, board members were given the power to appoint a replacement, but Marshall also faced challengers in the November general election.

Marshall is one of 28 recently appointed school board members across the state who faced an election this year, according to the Kentucky School Boards Association

“Thanks to the voters of District 4. They saw the work that we started and they voted to allow us to finish out the term next year,” Marshall said. “The journey continues.”

Courtesy of Joe Marshall

Marshall is a 4th grade teacher at the West End School, a tuition-free private school in Louisville. He taught at JCPS for four years prior to that. Marshall said a few of his biggest priorities are maintaining honesty and transparency on the board and addressing a teacher shortage. He said he thinks he gives the board a better sense of teachers’ perspective on issues.

“This really is a win for teachers and the voice of teachers being heard in policymaking. This is a win for parents who want a strong environment for their students,” Marshall said.

“I think that a lot of times teacher voice gets lost, because teachers are busy working and grading papers, grading assessments, and preparing for the hard work that needs to be done,” Marshall told WFPL last month.

Marshall has taken a progressive stance on a number of issues. He has said that families of color have “bore the burden” of the JCPS student assignment plan and that the school board needs to be strategic in developing its own internal security force of school resource officers and “focus on the word ‘resource.’”

“We need to be a groundbreaking district. We’re not going to be able to look at a lot of places and just follow their lead,” Marshall said.

When Marshall was selected for the seat, board chair Diane Porter said the board also strongly considered Shameka Parrish-Wright, as reported by the Courier-Journal.

Parrish-Wright actively campaigned for the seat, and took second place in the election. In third place was Dave Whitlock, an ex-constable who is known for having shot a woman in a Walmart parking lot.

Marshall will represent JCPS District 4, which includes the communities of Cane Run, Pleasure Ridge Park, Shively and Valley Station.  

A number of voters at Doss High near the Parkwood neighborhood said they relied on name recognition and word-of-mouth advice to select their preferred school board candidate.

“I want someone that knows what they’re doing. I want them to have some kind of experience … working in a school board for one, but also having the best interest of students,” said voter Max St. John.  

Republican Daniel Cameron Elected As Kentucky Attorney General Tuesday, Nov 5 2019 

Daniel Cameron, a 33-year-old corporate attorney and former counselor for Mitch McConnell has won the election to become Kentucky’s Attorney General.

At less than half the age of his Democratic opponent, Daniel Cameron will become the state’s first African-American to win state office at the top of the ticket.

Cameron defeated Former Attorney General and House Speaker Greg Stumbo.

Throughout the campaign, David Cameron’s Democratic opponent attempted to paint the Republican as young and inexperienced. Cameron touted the D.C. connections he made in his time working with McConnell.

As attorney general, Cameron will defend the state in court, file lawsuits on behalf of the state and investigate potential criminal activity.

Cameron has said he will pursue litigation against opioid manufacturers and look at criminal justice reforms. He is opposed to legalizing marijuana, but is open to discussing medical pot, he said in a KET interview.

On abortion, Cameron has said he believes in the “sanctity of life” and will defend laws passed by the state’s Legislature, which legislation that is currently being challenged in court.

“I’m here to tell you that Daniel Cameron as attorney general is going to protect the sanctity of life,” he said.

Cameron touts his relationship with McConnell and President Donald Trump, and says he played a role in getting Justice Neil Gorsuch confirmed to the Supreme Court in 2016. Cameron also worked as a spokesman for the Kentucky Smart on Crime Coalition, a group that advocates for criminal justice reform measures in the state.

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