Andy Beshear will be sworn in next month.
Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin conceded defeat on Thursday, ceding to Democrat Andy Beshear after a recanvass of last week’s election showed Bevin trailing Beshear by 5,136 votes.
Bevin, a Republican, told reporters inside the state capitol in Frankfort that the recanvass did not “significantly” change the outcome of the race, and he wouldn’t contest the results with the state legislature.
“We’re going to have a change in the governorship based on the vote of the people,” Bevin told reporters. “And what I want is to see the absolute best for Kentucky. I’m not going to contest these numbers that have come in. It isn’t fair to throw that on our legislature.”
Beshear, the state attorney general and son of former Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear, will be sworn in on Dec. 10. At a press conference of his own later Thursday, Beshear thanked Bevin for conceding, though the two men hadn’t spoken personally.
“This was a tough race, but it is now over,” Beshear said. “And I appreciate the fact that his administration was already moving forward in a smooth transition.”
But Beshear will take office after a campaign that focused on state and local issues: increasing investments in public education, expanding access to health care and protecting state pensions. Beshear also focused on Bevin’s at-times abrasive personality, which contributed to his low poll numbers, even in a state Trump carried by 30 points.
“People are ready for a governor that listens more than he talks,” Beshear told reporters in Kentucky over the final weekend of the campaign. “One that solves more problems than he creates. And one that would never engage in the type of bullying and name-calling we see from Matt Bevin.”
Beshear led Bevin in the vote count after election night by a little more than 5,000 votes — a margin that stayed relatively constant as all the ballots were tabulated and the numbers were double-checked in Thursday’s recanvass.
But Bevin refused to concede until Thursday, citing the closeness of the margin and what he called “irregularities” in the election.
As late as Wednesday, Bevin was promoting an outside group that was casting doubt on the election, though the Louisville Courier-Journal wrote the group “did not appear to provide any solid evidence” of voter fraud, as it alleged.
On Thursday, Bevin said he was still concerned about the election but said he didn’t think any improprieties or irregularities cost him his job.
“We know of some things — but not enough to cause us to think there’s going to be meaningful change” in the outcome, he said.
Bevin said Thursday he “expects to have a smooth transition” and suggested he wouldn’t be a vocal critic of Beshear’s administration from the sidelines.
“One thing you will not see: I’m not going to be publicly undermining or second-guessing anything that is done,” said Bevin. “I am sure there will be things I’m excited by and have complete agreement with. And there will be things that I will probably be on the other side of the equation with. And this is the way things are.”