FRANKFORT, Ky. (FOX19/AP) - Current Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin conceded the governor’s race Thursday one week and two days after results showed him losing to Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear.
“I just want to be clear, we are going to have a change in the governorship based on the vote of the people, and what I want is to see the absolute best for Kentucky,” outgoing Gov. Bevin said during a press conference to discuss the results of the recanvass he requested Nov. 6.
Current Kentucky Attorney General, unofficial Democrat Governor-Elect Andy Beshear emerged from the Nov. 5 general election leading the Republican incumbent by a little more than 5,000 votes, a margin of less than 0.4 percentage points.
The recanvass began at county clerks offices at 9 a.m. Thursday across all 120 Kentucky counties.
The Secretary of State’s Office website showed the results compared to the original results and any differences in the two live as they came in.
With the exception of one county, which showed one vote difference from election night to Thursday’s recanvass — one vote for Blackii Whyte (a real, independent, write-in candidate) — no results changed from Nov. 5.
“As expected it did not alter the outcome of the 2019 general election, as I predicted last week,” current Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes said during a press conference of her own Thursday afternoon.
She says the results of the gubernatorial election will be certified Nov. 21 at 10 a.m.
“All of your county clerk’s websites, it will say unofficial results until one, the contest period is over and second of all, once they’ve been accepted by the Secretary of State’s Office, then they become official results,” Kenton County Clerk of Courts, Gabrielle Summe, said.
As of 3 p.m., all 120 Kentucky counties had reported their recanvass numbers, 119 of them with no change. The only difference in original numbers to recanvass numbers was Casey County’s new, lone vote for Whyte.
Once the majority of the recanvass results were in, Bevin announced he would not challenge them further.
“I’m not going to contest these numbers that have come in," he said. "It isn’t fair to throw that on our legislature to try to find something that there just isn’t. We know of somethings but not enough to cause us to think there is going to be meaningful change.
“I want to be clear on a couple of things, had things gone down differently with different timing we could have made the same comments earlier,” Bevin said. “I truly wish the Attorney General (Beshear) well as the next governor of this state as he assumes these responsibilities. I truly do. I love this state, I love this country, I love the fact that we are blessed to live in a nation where things to transition in a way that much of the world wishes they had.
“There’s not going to be people fighting in the streets. There’s a natural exchange of leadership and we will have that. We have already been working — our team with his team — conversations have been had and will continue to be had. Expect to have a smooth transition.”
Bevin even took time to touch on hot-button issues that arose during his time in the governor’s office: like teacher pensions and rhetoric.
“I hope there’s never a discussion again in the history of Kentucky over whether we should fund the pensions," the New Hampshire-native said. "The pensions are still in dire, dire trouble and they need a tremendous amount of resources allocated to them and tremendous levels of attention paid to them as we move forward or they will fail and none of us want to see that happen. It’s going to cost billions and billions every single year. I hope we don’t go back to pretending it’s not a problem.”
His outgoing statements on teacher pensions come after Bevin vetoed pension reform bills and state budget bills that affected the state education system in April.
Bevin’s issues with Kentucky teachers also reached a boiling point in April when he made controversial comments claiming that teachers who called in sick to protest the vetoed pension and budget put children’s lives in danger.
“You know how many hundreds of thousands of children today were left home alone?” Bevin asked in April. “I guarantee you somewhere in Kentucky today a child was sexually assaulted that was left at home because there was nobody there to watch them.”
Bevin continued on a positive note as he prepared to leave office Thursday, touching on rhetoric.
“I hope rhetoric gets checked and I hope people actually start to work collectively for the good of the people of Kentucky,” Bevin said. “One thing you will not see, I’m not going to be publicly undermining or second-guessing anything that is done. I’m sure there will be things I’m excited by and in complete agreement with and things I will be on the other side of the equation with and this is the way things are.”
Bevin was often accused of having a negative rhetoric as he sparred with his opponents throughout his one term in office.
He wished incoming governor Andy Beshear well multiple times Thursday saying, “again, I want to wish Attorney General Beshear well as he transitions to his next role in this state. It’s a big responsibility.”
Though Bevin insisted this was the end of the road for his fight to stay in office, Nov. 6 when announcing his recanvass request Bevin said he believed voter fraud was an issue that led to his loss.
“There’s a history of voter fraud in our state. We know there have been thousands of absentee ballots that have been illegally counted, reports of people incorrectly turned away,” he said.
Lundergan Grimes said neither she nor her office has been informed of any fraud or any suspicious activity at any polling location.
The Secretary of State’s Office says Kentucky law doesn’t allow for a recount in a gubernatorial general election, but says there is no threshold or margin requirement for a recanvass.
The Secretary of State’s Office released a statement explaining the recanvass and how it works:
"A recanvass is a reprint of the receipts from voting machines to check for reporting or clerical errors. After ballots are scanned, the machine tabulates those votes and prints out a receipt with the total.
During a recanvass, those receipts will be reprinted and checked again to make sure they were reported properly. It's not uncommon for some clerical errors to occur during the initial vote tabulation.
All 120 counties would then fill out and submit the same certification forms again with the recanvass results.
What happens after the recanvass?
Once the recanvass is complete, the state board of elections has until Nov. 25 to certify the election results.
A candidate can contest the results only after the election board has completed certification.
Should a candidate pursue a contest after certification, they must file a written notice citing specific grounds for the contest within 30 days of the election board's final action.
Once that notice is given, the Kentucky General Assembly would then be authorized to constitute a board to review the evidence and hear depositions. This board must consist of three state senators and eight state House representatives.
Board members are chosen by lottery — names are written on separate slips of paper and drawn at random. The board is then tasked with reviewing the evidence and discussing the allegations. Afterward, the board would file a recommendation to the full General Assembly for further action if necessary, which could include a vote.
Republicans control both chambers of the General Assembly — 61-39 in the House, including two special election contests the GOP won last night, and 29-9 in the Senate."
Beshear unveiled a website Tuesday for the transition, and people can go there to apply to work in the administration.
He announced Deputy Attorney General J. Michael Brown would lead the transition team last week.
Beshear and his Lt. Gov. Jacqueline Coleman held a press conference Thursday at 3:30 p.m. where they discussed their excitement to move forward in their new roles. Beshear said he had been in contact with Bevin’s office to discuss the transition. He also says he is beginning to gather plans for getting the state’s new budget together.
The Republican Party of Kentucky Chairman Mac Brown released a statement about Thursday’s recanvass:
“Kentuckians can be proud of all Gov. Matt Bevin accomplished for our state in bringing jobs and opportunity to Kentucky in record-breaking fashion. Thanks to Gov. Matt Bevin’s leadership, Kentucky’s future is brighter than ever before. On behalf of the Republican Party of Kentucky, I’d like to personally thank Gov. Bevin for all he has done to make Kentucky a better place.
“Kentucky Republicans are also justly proud of all that our candidates accomplished in this year’s elections. With our historic victories of 2019, for the first time in decades, Republicans will hold the offices of agriculture commissioner, attorney general, auditor, secretary of state and treasurer simultaneously. We’re excited to carry this momentum into 2020 as we work to grow our legislative supermajorities and reelect Senator McConnell and President Trump in 2020.”
– Republican Party of Kentucky Chairman Mac Brown