Continuing what has been an unfortunate pattern for Republicans for nearly a decade, Kentucky's GOP Gov. Matt Bevin was apparently edged out of re-election Tuesday night in large part because of the candidacy of Libertarian Party nominee John Hicks.
In near-final results that may be recounted, Democratic State Attorney General Andy Beshear drew 709, 345 votes (49.2%) to the stalwart conservative Bevin's 704, 012 votes (48.8 percent).
"We are not conceding this race by any stretch," a defiant Bevin told supporters Wednesday morning as he vowed to pursue a recount.
But he almost surely would have been claiming victory had it not been for the Libertarian nominee, since the razor-thin, 5,333-vote difference between the major party candidates was more than made up for by Hicks' 28,436.
A Vietnam veteran and IT specialist, Hicks ran on a platform calling for reforming and downsizing government and stronger restrictions on abortion — positions that would have appealed more to Republicans than Democrats.
"Hicks ran no campaign and isn't really a libertarian, at least on abortion, which he wants to restrict," Al Cross, former political editor of the Louisville Courier Journal, told Newsmax. "I'd guess 90% of his votes came from people who would have voted Republican but couldn't bring themselves to vote for [the outspoken and often caustic] Bevin."
The pattern of Democrats winning races with pluralities and Libertarians making the differences is a familiar one. In 2012, according to a chart prepared by the left-of-center news outlet Daily Kos, there were no fewer than nine contests for the U.S. Senate, House, and governor in which the Libertarian nominee received more votes than the difference between the winning Democrat and losing Republican.
In 2013 and 2014 in Virginia, Republicans Ken Cuccinelli and Ed Gillespie lost tight races for governor and U.S. senator in which the Libertarian made the difference between their loss and the victories of Democrats Terry McAuliffe and Mark Warner.
Many Libertarians — notably 2012 and 2016 presidential nominee Gary Johnson — argue that Libertarians draw equally from both sides. Republicans in virtually every state appear to do their utmost to discourage a Libertarian from entering contests. But it is difficult — if not impossible — to find Democrats who wish the Libertarian candidate were not on the ballot or included in debates.
John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.
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