Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear has declared victory following a close and highly contested race against incumbent Gov. Matt Bevin on Tuesday. However, Bevin has still refused to concede.
Kentucky Secretary of State Allison Lundergan Grimes said her team has called the race in favor of Beshear, according to The Louisville Courier Journal.
Beshear's running mate Jacqueline Coleman introduced the governor-elect shortly after all precincts reported Beshear led the race by 4,658 votes.
"It's official," Coleman said. "The war on public education is over."
In his victory speech Beshear said public education will be his top priority, and a pension is a "promise."
"To our educators, this is your victory," Beshear said. "From now on, the doors of your state's capitol will always be open."
The two gubernatorial candidates seemed to have different focus during the campaign, with Bevin — who was endorsed by President Donald Trump in Lexington Monday night — speaking on national issues while Beshear kept focus on Kentucky.
"Tonight voters in Kentucky sent a message loud and clear for everyone to hear," Beshear said in his victory speech. "It's a message that says our elections don't have to be about right versus left, they are still about right versus wrong."
Beshear wanted to be governor “for every Kentuckian,” he said during a Bowling Green campaign stop Monday. During his victory speech Tuesday Beshear referenced "Kentucky values," including faith and hard work, which he said went beyond party lines.
“Are you ready to fight?” Beshear asked supporters during the stop. “Are you ready to fight for teachers? Are you ready to fight for healthcare?”
Beshear’s “fight” for healthcare, education and public employees is the reason Kentucky State Rep. Patti Minter gave for her support of the attorney general.
“I think Andy Beshear is the best person to lead Kentucky forward,” Minter said at Beshear’s Election Night Watch Party. “...He’s going to stand up and show up for Kentuckians who need a good governor.”
“This race has never been about me it’s been about us,” Beshear said during a campaign stop in Franklin, Kentucky on Monday.
When results were still undecided, an attendee at the Bevin watch party jumped on stage, took the microphone and declared Bevin the victor, a statement that drew massive applause from the audience, which quickly turned to angry boos as the intruder left the stage.
Following a victory speech from Attorney General-elect Daniel Cameron, Bevin took to the stage, with the race already having been called in favor of Beshear by MSNBC.
“Would it be a Bevin race if it wasn’t a squeaker?” Bevin asked.
He then refused to concede.
“We know for a fact that there have been more than a few irregularities,” Bevin said. “They are very well corroborated and that’s alright. What they are exactly, how many, which ones and what effect they have will be determined according to law that's well established.”
Kentucky’s race gained national attention, with eyes on the state’s results to gain a sense of voter enthusiasm and party organization during impeachment proceedings and the search for a democratic contender to face Trump, according to an Associated Press report for the Washington Post.
Print Managing Editor Laurel Deppen can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @laurel_deppen.
Digital Managing Editor Rebekah Alvey contributed to this story.