LOUISVILLE, Ky. – “Matt Bevin has won!” an ecstatic Matt Bevin supporter shouted to a crowd of Republicans at Gov. Matt Bevin's watch party. But her announcement was followed by an ominous silence as many realized she was drunk, and her statement had not yet been confirmed.
On Tuesday night, hundreds of Bevin supporters gathered in the Galt House in Louisville, Kentucky, to watch the results of the gubernatorial race. The room went between cheers and chatter as the results poured in over the course of over four hours.
The race between Democratic challenger, Attorney General Andy Beshear, and incumbent Gov. Bevin ended with close results, so much so Bevin has refused to concede, and told the crowd that no matter what, tonight was a “good night for republicans.”
At the C2 Event Venue—also in Louisville—Beshear and his running mate Jacqueline Coleman claimed victory before a swell of supporters.
“What unites us as Kentuckians is still stronger than any national divisions,” Beshear said surrounded by his wife and kids. “In this commonwealth, a commonwealth in which I love, we believe in lifting each other up instead of tearing each other down.
Beshear talked about his opponent Matt Bevin in respect. He called on the state to wish Bevin and his family the best throughout the remainder of the election season. He then thanked his own wife and kids, and his parents who had served Kentucky as governor and First Lady before Bevin.
There was less than a full percent margin keeping the two apart throughout the counting process. At one point, there was only a 0.6 percent gap between the two.
With every precinct reporting, Beshear succeeded with 49.2 percent of the votes and Bevin ended with 48.9 percent. Beshear’s victory was called by the Kernel, among other local news agencies, at 9:30 p.m. However, the Associated Press reported that the race was too close to call.
Bevin supporters such as Jonathan Kellogg, 26, who came from Lexington, Kentucky to the Republican watch party, showed their support for the incumbent governor. Kellogg, a University of Kentucky graduate, said he got involved with the Bevin campaign working as Bevin’s “body guy,” or assistant. Kellogg said he supports Bevin’s “strong family values.”
Of Bevin’s beliefs, Kellogg said the one that hits closest to home is Bevin’s Judeo-Christian values.
“Christian faith is really important to me and the values therein,” Kellogg said. “That’s a lot of the reason of why I got involved.”
Students in the audience at the Beshear watch party expressed how important it was for them to be able to attend this event in person.
“I think being here has made this whole election real for me,” said Amy Pedigo, a junior at the University of Louisville, at the Beshear watch party. “Now it’s like, I know what my vote meant.”
Gov. Bevin ran off previous policies he had set up with his administration, policies such as, according to his campaign website, “shrinking the size of government, preserving Kentucky’s energy sector and tax reform.”
His website states he and his administration have created over 57,000 new jobs in Kentucky since his term as governor began in 2016.
His website also claims the administration has had “record education funding per pupil.” However, Bevin has come under fire in recent years, mainly due to efforts by Bevin and Kentucky legislators to rapidly reform state teacher pension systems.
After his apparent loss, Bevin called it a “close, close race.”
“There is a process,” Bevin said of the close numbers and potential recount. Although, he also claimed not to fully know the laws regarding a recount during his speech, but said they are there.
“I did not run for this office because I want to be governor,” Beshear said. “I ran for this office because I want to govern well.”
Though right now the waters for governor are murky, many Republicans took victories home tonight. Republicans such as State Treasurer Allison Ball, Secretary of State Michael Adams, Attorney General Daniel Cameron, Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles and others won titles in Kentucky government. Republicans took home the attorney general title for the first time since World War II, and replaced Andy Beshear who has served since 2016.
“This is a great night for Kentucky,” Bevin said of a largely Republican win.