Politics & Government

Trump claims ‘massive impact’ on Kentucky election despite results in Gov. Bevin’s race

President Donald Trump said his pre-Election Day rally in Lexington had a “massive impact” on all of the Kentucky races despite Gov. Matt Bevin earning fewer votes than Attorney General Andy Beshear.

Tweeting late Tuesday night, Trump said Bevin “picked up at least 15 points,” presumably referring to internal polls, in the last days of the election. The president said, “Fake News will blame Trump!”

The race was tight. Unofficial results show Beshear beating Bevin by about 5,100 votes. But Bevin would not concede.

“There were a lot of polls out there; I’m not sure I saw that one,” Beshear said Wednesday morning regarding a poll showing Beshear with a 15-point lead.

CNN’s Daniel Dale said a little-known firm, Targoz Market Research, found Bevin down last month by 19 with likely voters and 18 with registered voters.

Many other polls showed Bevin and Beshear in a dead heat in the weeks and days leading to the election. For example, FiveThirtyEight.com had the two candidates even at 46 percent.

Trump “just about dragged” Gov. Matt Bevin across the finish line of the Kentucky governor election, Trump’s campaign said in a statement released Tuesday night.

Trump’s campaign manager, Brad Parscale, said Bevin ran stronger than expected in the race, in which Attorney General Andy Beshear has declared victory. After the election results were in, Bevin said he wanted every vote to be counted and for the “process to be followed.”

At the pre-Election Day rally Monday night in Lexington, Trump told a Rupp Arena audience how important the Kentucky gubernatorial election was for him.

“You’re sending that big message to the rest of the country; it’s so important, you got to get your friends, you got to vote. Because if you lose, it sends a really bad message.” Trump said. “You can’t let that happen to me.”

He further said, “Beshear is too liberal, too extreme and too dangerous for the state of Kentucky.”

The president boasted Tuesday night about Republicans winning five of the six statewide elections on the ballot, “including 5 great candidates that I spoke for and introduced” at the rally, he said. One of those was Attorney General-elect Daniel Cameron, who became Kentucky’s first independently elected statewide official who is black.

Trump singled out Cameron in a tweet, saying “Great going Daniel, proud of you!” Cameron touted his alliance with Trump throughout the election process.

Michael Adams put the secretary of state’s office in the Republican column. Winning re-election were Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles, Treasurer Allison Ball and Auditor Mike Harmon.

Former Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele told The Washington Post Bevin losing is “a definite shot across the bow” despite Cameron winning his race.

“But losing the governorship is a smack at both Mitch McConnell and the president, sending up a cautionary note,” Steele told the Post. He also said Trump showing up “doesn’t mean an automatic win anymore.”

Trump returned to Twitter Wednesday and said that based on the Kentucky results, “Mitch McConnell will win BIG next year.”

Bevin has 30 days after the results are certified by the State Board of Elections to decide whether to formally contest the results.

Mike Stunson covers breaking news and real-time news for the Lexington Herald-Leader and Kentucky.com. He is a 2011 Western Kentucky University graduate who has previously worked at the Paducah Sun and Madisonville Messenger as a sports reporter.
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