Updated: Nov 21, 2020
With the recent upset victory of ̶S̶t̶e̶v̶e̶ Andy Beshear in the governor race, we wanted to take an in depth look into the nail-biter of a race that was decided by 5000 votes. We will have a Democratic governor staring down a Republican super-majority in both houses in the legislature, as well as an entire slate of elected officials from the other party.
This is Kentucky politics at its finest. And by that I mean, absolutely wild and reckless.
Andy Beshear, the only Democratic candidate who won their race, will need a LOT of cross-aisle cooperation to get the things he wants accomplished. Both branches of the legislature, an attorney general , secretary of state, auditor , and agricultural commissioner are from the opposite party and could make for a very tricky situation.
An event 227 years in the making, Cameron will be the first black attorney general in the history of Kentucky.
A lot of new ideas are going to be coming out of Frankfort. Medical cannabis and expanded gambling (and all that tax $$$) could soon become a real , debatable issue in our state!
Bevin isn't conceding the race, meaning we could be in for weeks of posturing, lawsuits, recounts, recanvassing, and a whole lot of other specialized vocabulary.
This governor dispute isn't entirely unprecedented in the Bluegrass State, with the 1899 election between Republicans and Democrats causing a series of chain reactions. They include the Democratic state legislature invalidating the Republican candidate , William S. Taylor after more than 60 days in office only for the Democratic candidate, William Goebel , to be assassinated. Their lives would be a great Netflix mini-series.
It's not just Louisville vs the Rest Anymore
It would be too easy to write off any Democratic win as a case of large urban population centers turning out more than rural areas. That didn't happen. Instead, smaller cities all across central, western, and especially across Eastern Kentucky voted for Beshear as a candidate.
Democrats still outnumber Republicans by around 200,000 voters, according to the Kentucky Board of Elections. In a poor state where many people still benefit from the TVA hydroelectricity and dam projects led by FDR in the 1940s, it was only within the last four decades that Kentucky has been viewed a Republican stronghold.
Take a look at the New York Times electoral maps from the 2019 governor race.
The suburbs are becoming increasingly Democratic.
Smaller cities and rural towns across Kentucky also voted for Beshear!
Republicans swept the down ballot races, but soured on Bevin.
Take a look at the data from the Attorney General race won by Mitch McConnell protege Daniel Cameron.
825,814 (Cameron votes) - 707,297 (Bevin votes) = 118,517 Republicans who voted against the GOP candidate for governor.
Could the libertarian candidate have caused an upset for Beshear?
Beshear : 711,955
Bevin [incumbent] : 707,297
John Hicks: 28,475
Apparently , yes. The Libertarian Party of Kentucky actually tweeted celebrating the "delicious tears of Bevin supporters".
A third party in politics isn't a bad thing to have.
It is all too easy in American politics to think of these races as an us-or-them kind of mentality. To be perfectly frank, we don't need parties, we need people. It is interesting to see that an INDEPENDENT candidate for New Albany city council actually won in his district!
So what can I do to get more involved with politics?
Contact your local legislator by phone or email! Ask them out to your local business or for coffee!
It isn't as scary as it sounds, and they are literally elected --and paid with your tax dollars--to interact with the general public. That means YOU!
The more accountability and interaction we have with our city leadership, the more ideas we can have as a city and state.
About the Author
Jody Dahmer was raised between Louisville and Cumberland County, KY all his life.
Graduating from WKU, he wants to be a voice of change in the commonwealth, an advocate for a new generation of farmers in urban areas, and bring creative skills to the next generations of Kentucky students regardless of background or geographic location in the state.