Democrat Appears to Win Kentucky Governor Race After Republican Incumbent Doubles Down on Abortion

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Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear appears to have won the Kentucky gubernatorial election, besting Republican incumbent Matt Bevin. Bevin, who’d initially hinged his campaign on fighting the Affordable Care Act, pivoted to attacking Beshear’s support of abortion rights shortly before the election, with the virulently anti-abortion Susan B. Anthony List group door-knocking for the governor.

According to local CBS affiliate WLKY, Beshear has 711,955 votes to Bevin’s 707,297, with 100 percent of precincts reporting. Bevin has thus far refused to concede; Beshear declared victory Tuesday night, promising to rescind the Medicaid waiver and restore voting rights to 140,000 Kentuckians.

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“Tonight, voters in Kentucky sent a message for everyone to hear loud and clear. It’s a message that says our elections don’t have to be about right versus left; they are about right versus wrong,” Beshear said, according to local station WKRC.

On Monday, Politico ran a headline claiming that “Abortion could decide Kentucky’s close governor’s race,” noting that “[t]he unpopular incumbent’s harsh attacks on Democratic challenger Attorney General Andy Beshear’s backing of abortion rights, rare for a Southern gubernatorial candidate, has Democrats worried about their chances slipping away in a race that has grown unexpectedly close.”

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According to NPR, anti-abortion activists began canvassing hard for Bevin in the weeks leading up to the election, with the governor doubling down on his attacks on reproductive rights and claiming Beshear’s support from abortion rights groups constituted “blood money.” In March, Bevin signed a so-called “heartbeat bill” making it a felony to perform an abortion when a fetal heartbeat—i.e., after around six weeks, before many women discover they’re pregnant. The law is currently blocked from going into effect; if Beshear is inaugurated, its fate is even more up in the air.

Beshear’s apparent election is a much-welcomed blow to President Trump, who won Kentucky in 2016 and campaigned with Bevin. Another blow to Trump: Virginia, where Democrats flipped both chambers of the state legislature. Meanwhile, in Arizona, Regina Romero made history by winning the Tucson mayoral election—she will be Tucson’s first Latina mayor, and the only Latina mayor in one of the country’s top 50 largest cities.

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