FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Republican Gov. Matt Bevin conceded to Democratic archnemesis Andy Beshear on Thursday, putting an end to Kentucky’s bitterly fought governor’s race and setting the stage for divided government.
Bevin, an ally of President Donald Trump, made the dramatic announcement outside his statehouse office on the same day election officials across Kentucky double-checked vote totals at his request. Bevin, who trailed by several thousand votes, acknowledged that the recanvass wouldn’t change the outcome.
“We’re going to have a change in the governorship based upon the vote of the people,” Bevin said at the news conference.
Members of Bevin’s administration watched solemnly as the pugnacious governor graciously wished Beshear — the state’s attorney general — well in his new role. It capped a nearly four-year rivalry that overshadowed Kentucky politics. Beshear, wielding his authority as the state’s top lawyer, challenged a series of Bevin’s executive actions during their terms. Their feud spread to the campaign trail and a series of bare-knuckled debates this year.
“I truly want the best for Andy Beshear as he moves forward. I genuinely want him to be successful, I genuinely want this state to be successful,” Bevin said in his concession Thursday.
The new governor-elect was scheduled to meet with reporters later in the day.
Last week’s election results showed Bevin trailing Beshear by more than 5,000 votes out of more than 1.4 million cast, for a lead of less than 0.4 percentage points.
Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes said in a statement that Thursday’s recanvass of vote counts left the final margin at 5,136 votes. The final state Board of Elections is scheduled to meet Nov. 21 to certify the vote totals.
Bevin promised a smooth transition leading up to Beshear’s inauguration.