May 22, 2019

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What They’re Saying: Matt Bevin’s History Making Primary Performance

Matt Bevin made history last night. While he’s never shied from touting himself, this time we’ll do the bragging for him. According to FiveThirtyEight’s Geoffrey Skelley, Bevin had the narrowest margin for a primary win by an incumbent governor ever in Kentucky.

More than 47 percent of Republicans rejected Bevin because of his record of sabotaging Kentuckians’ health care, attacking public education funding, and criticizing teachers. His dismal performance means Bevin can’t count on his own party to support his failing re-election bid. Bevin’s in for a long and bruising campaign.

Here’s a roundup of what news outlets said about Bevin’s pitiful performance:

Courier-Journal: “Gov. Matt Bevin ekes out a hard-fought win in the Kentucky Republican primary.”

Incumbent Matt Bevin survived an unexpectedly tough primary challenge Tuesday to win the Republican Party nomination and seek a second term as governor.

But the relatively narrow margin indicated that Bevin’s support among Republicans is strained, particularly in Eastern Kentucky.

With all counties reporting, Bevin and running mate Ralph Alvarado won 52% of the vote compared with 39% for state Rep. Robert Goforth and his running mate, Michael Hogan.

Many political observers were expecting a much wider margin for an incumbent governor seeking reelection in a good economy against a little-known opponent.

[…]

“The governor obviously has some work to do within his party and in some regions of the state,” said Scott Jennings, a conservative political commentator and columnist for the Courier Journal.

[…]

Scott Lasley, a professor of political science at Western Kentucky University, said the election results showed “the governor has made some enemies. Comments he’s made about teachers have had some impact — particularly in rural areas, I think.”

Herald Leader: “Bevin limps to victory in Republican primary for Kentucky Governor”

Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin limped to victory in his Republican primary Tuesday.

Bevin’s habit of harshly criticizing those who disagree with him has made him one of the most unpopular governors in the country, attracting three opponents in the GOP primary, including State Rep. Robert Goforth of East Bernstadt. Goforth spent $750,000 of his own money in the race and was on track to collect more than one third of the primary vote.

Insider Louisville: Beshear wins Democratic primary for governor; Bevin wins closer-than-expected race

Bevin also won his party’s nomination in the Republican primary Tuesday night, though he struggled to gain a majority of the votes in a race that was much closer than expected.

[…]

The Associated Press called the race for Bevin just before 8 p.m. when 53% of precinct returns were in statewide, showing him with only 50.8% of the vote in the Republican primary for governor, trailed by state Rep. Robert Goforth with 40.8%.

Despite Goforth’s minimal campaign and low name recognition as a freshman member of the state House, he beat Bevin in 31 counties in the mountain region of eastern Kentucky and the south, some by blowout margins. His success against Bevin perhaps lends credence to recent polling in the state showing that roughly one third of Republicans have an unfavorable view of the governor’s performance.

The Hill: “Trump-backed Kentucky governor narrowly survives primary”

Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin (R) took just over half the vote to win the Republican nomination for his current job, in spite of an Election Day endorsement from President Trump and early spending from national Republican groups on his behalf.

With more than two-thirds of precincts reporting, Bevin led state Rep. Robert Goforth (R) by a margin of 51 percent to 40 percent. Two other candidates split almost 9 percent of the vote.

The result is an embarrassment for Bevin, one of the least popular governors in America. Several Kentucky Republican strategists told The Hill on Tuesday they expected Bevin to claim between 60 and 80 percent of the vote in the Republican primary. He fell well short of those expectations.

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The Republican Governors Association ran ads boosting Bevin during the primary, an unusual step for a group that ordinarily saves its money for beating up on Democrats in the sprint to a general election.