By Greg Bird
It will be a showdown of bitter rivals this coming November as embattled Governor Matt Bevin will face off against Andy Beshear in the General Election as both candidates weathered strong challenges in the Primary Tuesday. Despite their Primary wins, neither candidate seemed to gain a clear mandate from voters, meaning the fall race is sure to be highly contested and probably controversial as the two candidates certainly do not like each other.
With higher than expected voter turnouts at the polls, 19.25 percent across Kentucky and 13.96 in McCreary, only four races were particularly close – decided by less than 14 percent of the vote total.
Despite a strong wave of opposition from teachers and state employees upset over the Republican Governor’s handling of the pension crisis, Bevin held off a strong challenge from Robert Goforth to hang on to his party’s nomination. The Governor finished the night with 52 percent of total votes, while Goforth could claim only 39 percent. The challenger did well in many counties across the state, but could not gather enough support outside of his home region. Goforth won the vote in 31 of 120 counties, mostly in southern and eastern Kentucky.
Locally Goforth actually dominated Bevin in votes, pulling 60 percent to the Governor’s 36 percent.
On the Democrat side Beshear edged out a narrow victory over two strong challengers. Beshear won 37.8 percent of the total vote, with Rocky Adkins on his heels with 31.9 percent and Adam Edelen with 27.9 percent. The 5.9 percentage point difference was the closest race decided Tuesday. Beshear won 45 percent of the vote in McCreary County to Adkins’ 29 percent and Edelen’s 21.
Eastern Kentucky proved to be Adkins’ base as he took most of the votes in that part of the state, but Beshear prevailed in the western part of the state, as well as Lexington and Louisville to cement his nomination.
The Governor battle will certainly be interesting this fall as the two candidates have a clear disdain for each other, stemming from several legal challenges filed by Beshear against Bevin over the past four years. Bevin, who was endorsed by President Donald Trump in the race is hoping that the popular Republican President will carry him through to a second term in Frankfort.
The Secretary of State race will be interesting in the fall as well with Former Miss America Heather French Henry crushing her opposition in the Democrat Primary, with nearly 71 percent of the total vote. Partially winning on name recognition, Henry is no stranger to politics, as the wife of former Lieutenant Governor Steve Henry and served as Commissioner of the Kentucky Department of Veteran’s Affairs. She will face off against Republican Michael Adams, who bested three other challengers with 41.2 percent of the total vote.
Republican Daniel Cameron held off Wil Schroder to gain the nomination for the soon-to-be vacant Attorney General post (Andy Beshear currently serves, but is running for Governor). Cameron pulled 55.3 percent of the state-wide vote and will face off against Democrat Greg Stumbo, who had no opposition in the Primary.
Auditor of Public Accounts Mike Harman did not appear on the ballot Tuesday as no other Republicans filed to challenge the incumbent, but three Democrats contested to run against him in the fall. Sheri Donahue pulled 46.1 percent of the total vote to win the nomination over Kelsey Coots (33 percent) and Chris Tobe (20 percent). Locally Coots pulled just five more votes than Donahue, the closest local race Tuesday.
Incumbent Republican Treasurer Allison Ball was also unopposed in the Primary, but will square off against Democrat Michael Bowman in the November General Election. Bowman beat opponent Josh Mers with 66.4 percent of the total vote.
Incumbent Commissioner of Agriculture Ryan Quarles easily held off his Republican opponent Bill Polyniak, wining 82.2 percent of the overall vote. He will face off against Democrat Robert Conway, who won his party’s nomination with 60.22 percent of the vote state-wide.
The 2019 Kentucky General Election will take place on Tuesday, November 5.