Politics & Government

Matt Bevin holds lead over James Comer after recanvass in GOP race for governor

Matt Bevin, left, and James Comer.
Matt Bevin, left, and James Comer.

FRANKFORT — After Thursday's recanvass of votes cast in the Republican primary for governor, Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes said that there were "no substantial changes" and that she thought Matt Bevin would be the GOP nominee when the vote is certified June 8.

Agriculture Commissioner James Comer, who requested the recanvass after election night tallies showed him losing to Bevin by 83 votes, did not concede the race Thursday.

Comer, who is vacationing in Florida with his family, has not indicated whether he will seek a costly, time-consuming recount, but the deadline to file a petition for one in Franklin Circuit Court is 4 p.m. Friday.

Comer aide Edwin King said the commissioner would make a statement Friday afternoon "about the next steps he will take in this race."

Bevin issued a statement Thursday afternoon saying "it is an honor to be the Republican nominee for governor."

"I have tremendous respect for Commissioner Comer and am glad that we went through the recanvass process so that the integrity of our election was validated," Bevin said.

Each county's board of elections joined county clerks for the recanvass that began at 9 a.m. Thursday. Grimes said she got no reports showing a change in vote totals for Bevin or Comer.

In Lexington, the recanvass "found no change," Fayette County Clerk Don Blevins Jr. said.

As reporters and representatives from the Comer and Bevin campaigns looked on, Blevins and a team from the clerk's office and the board of elections went through the results from each precinct, making sure the numbers matched what they had reported.

After about an hour of comparing the numbers, Blevins' team found only one discrepancy, but he said he thought it was "an interpretation problem and has nothing to do with the election results at all."

"It's more of a boring event for us," Blevins told reporters after the recanvass. "Back in the day when we had mechanical machines, a recanvass made a lot of sense and could've changed the results. Today, with a computerized system, it really is a perfunctory thing to do."

A number of counties, including Fayette, were given extensions to certify their vote totals after a discrepancy resulted in 12 overseas military voters not receiving their absentee ballots on time.

Because one of those voters lives in Fayette County, Blevins said the county board of elections didn't count on election night an additional five absentee ballots to ensure the anonymity of the one outstanding voter.

Blevins said his office has not received the expected absentee ballot, but because of the recanvass, the five ballots that had remained uncounted were checked on Thursday.

One was not submitted properly and was thrown out, three were votes for third-place finisher Hal Heiner, and Blevins did not disclose the vote on the fifth ballot.

Blevins said his office wouldn't certify the county's vote totals until Monday morning. The one outstanding absentee voter has until 6 p.m. Friday to submit his or her vote.

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