Sam Youngman

Sam Youngman: A few thoughts about the race for governor on 'now-what?' Wednesday

A few thoughts from a weird Wednesday and an election so ugly, it just won't end:

■ Call it limbo, purgatory or a holding pattern, but the Republican Party of Kentucky is in a strange and uncomfortable position, and the coming week will be among the longest in the history of the party.

The fall election started Wednesday, but the GOP still doesn't have a nominee for governor.

Things certainly seem to favor Matt Bevin, who holds an 83-vote lead over James Comer, but given the dark and bizarre twists and turns this race has taken, why would we assume anything at this point?

Of course, optics are important, and Bevin struck the posture of a winner Tuesday night, while Comer, though necessarily gracious and understandably asking for a recanvass, looked and sounded as if he was giving a concession speech.

It might not be over, but it probably looks that way to a large segment of the electorate.

■ For his part, Democratic nominee Jack Conway is off and running, and his troops are operating under the assumption that they're facing off against Bevin.

Democrats appeared excited by the prospect of Bevin as an opponent, believing his positions to be too extreme for him to win a general election.

But Conway must be fearing deja vu more than Neo in The Matrix. Remember the last time he faced off against a Tea Party candidate whom Democrats thought was too outside the mainstream to win a general election?

Underestimating Bevin would be a bad mistake.

Comer and Hal Heiner can attest to that.

■ Conway got some mixed news Tuesday night when he lost only 21 percent of Democrats to a protest vote for Lexington activist Geoff Young. Conway performed better than Alison Lundergan Grimes did in her primary last year, when she lost 23.5 percent of Democrats, but not by much.

■ Then he came out of the gate Wednesday afternoon with a Web video that could charitably be called uninspired. Despite having a year in the race to come up with a Day One plan, the mix-tape of news anchors talking about Conway and jobs that his campaign released had the feel of a term paper that got written five minutes before it was due.

■ Barring a surprise in the recanvass or a win by would-be independent candidate Drew Curtis, the next governor of Kentucky will be from Louisville.

■ The final reports aren't in, but we know that Heiner spent at least $4.2 million of his own money and came in third place. That has to hurt — unless you're former GOP gubernatorial candidate Billy Harper, who now has company when political reporters write about big-time self-funders who came up short.

■ Congratulations, everybody, we're no longer dead to conservative radio host Glenn Beck.

Beck, who has been a Bevin supporter since last year's primary, said earlier this year that Kentucky was dead to him and that the voters must have been drunk to have nominated McConnell over Bevin last year.

On Wednesday, Beck posted on social media that the commonwealth is no longer dead to him, unless a recanvass reveals Comer as the winner, in which case, the Bluegrass is "double dead" to him.

We're bound to hear a lot from Bevin about standing up to President Obama. If he wants to prove that he's more than just an extreme candidate, maybe he should start by standing up to Beck and defending Kentuckians.

■ Heiner running mate KC Crosbie wins the award for the oddest shout-out of the night, thanking Louisville Democratic strategist Danny Briscoe from the stage at Heiner's party. What's up with that?

■ If Bevin is named the winner, McConnell will endorse him. Bet on it.

The $64,000 question (it's worth way more than that) is how much the Senate majority leader will do beyond the endorsement.

■ Despite the hard feelings between McConnell and Bevin supporters, Bevin might be the candidate who brings the least amount of baggage to any unity rallies.

Comer supporters, although understandably upset Wednesday, seemed somewhat relieved that they probably got beat by Bevin instead of Heiner. Heiner supporters seemed to find similar solace in knowing that Comer probably won't win.

■ Will T. Scott came in a distant fourth, but he made a lot of fans, including Curtis, who offered the judge a spot in his administration — should he win — in an open letter Wednesday.

■ At one point Tuesday night, election results from the Associated Press showed Spencer County Republicans choosing Scott and Democrats picking Geoff Young. The AP took it off the board before Herald-Leader staff could alert law enforcement to the possibility that any remaining stolen barrels of bourbon would likely be found in Spencer County.

■ Grimes' office said Wednesday that since January 2011, there have been five recanvass requests, and none of the outcomes changed.

■ If this one follows that trend, Comer won't have lost just an election. The state agriculture commissioner told the Herald-Leader that when he announced his candidacy in September, he weighed 188 pounds. On Wednesday, he weighed 155 pounds.

This has been a nightmare of a race, and like any truly terrifying nightmare, it is taking longer than it should to wake up.

For now, we have at least a week to go until the general election is set, and surely that race can't be any stranger or more sordid than what we just witnessed.

Let's hope not, anyway.

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