Generally speaking, the Republican Party had a “good night” on Nov. 5, but clearly lacking in their “good night” was the plumb of all the races – the Governor’s Mansion. So everyone must ask, “If the Republicans ran so strongly as a whole in this ‘Reddish State,’ why did they lose the most important race of all?”
Different people will have different answers. Here are a few factors to consider:
1) Gov. Bevin’s negatives were deliberately driven up for all four years of his term by Attorney General Andy Beshear, his competitor for Governor. It seems no one can count the number of times Beshear was quoted in the news saying that Gov. Bevin had done “outrageous this” or “outrageous that.”
2) Like the first reason, Gov. Bevin’s negatives were driven up by the media. It is not hard to recall how Attorney General Greg Stumbo used the media all four years of Gov. Ernie Fletcher’s term to paint him as “a crook.” (Having succeeded in Kentucky, most can see how the same tactics have been moved more recently to Washington, D.C.)
3) Gov. Bevin raised his own negatives. Whether it was the handling of the teachers in the pension fight, his primary with Rep. Robert Goforth (R-East Bernstadt), or his in-house skirmish with Lt. Gov. Jenean Hampton, he could have done much better. But he didn’t. It is particularly perplexing when one considers: that Gov. Bevin is the only governor who fully funded the pensions during each of the four years he was in office; that he and Goforth could have worked together in the Fall election; and that Lt. Gov. Hampton served him well and was his friend all through their term.
Slot Gambling Devices
Deeper, there were those who were greatly concerned about the wild expansion of gambling via the “Historical Horse Racing “ slot-like devices. On one hand, Gov. Bevin articulated how strongly he was against casinos. But on the other hand, gambling expanded more under Bevin than under any other Governor, through his Horse Racing Commission’s unrestrained awarding of licenses to Horse Racing Tracks. This was done even though the court case dealing with the devices’ legality is still before the Kentucky Supreme Court.
Kentucky Candidate Information Survey
One last factor is hard to calculate: Gov. Bevin chose not to answer the prolific Kentucky Candidate Information Survey, which reached some 300,000 Kentuckians. Gov. Bevin was the only Republican candidate who chose not to answer the Survey, and was the only one not to win. Had he answered the Survey, would he have “flipped” 2,500 votes that went to Beshear and won? (That’s the 5,000 vote shift that he needed.) Who knows? But, it is true that getting your message out is generally the way you excite your base.