Tags: Kentucky Governor | Recanvass

Kentucky's GOP Primary for Governor Could Head to Recount

Friday, 29 May 2015 06:28 AM

Matt Bevin claimed the Republican nomination for governor with the help of a clunky fax machine in a crowded corner office of the state Capitol. But his opponent, James Comer, quickly moved to block him with an email from Florida.

Kentucky election officials reviewed results from the state's 120 counties via fax Thursday, confirming Bevin leads Comer by 83 votes in one of the closest elections in state history. But Comer, while vacationing in Florida, did not concede and in an email to reporters said he would announce his next steps Friday.

The next step available to Comer, aside from conceding, is asking a judge for a statewide recount. It's risky because he did not gain a single vote from Thursday's recanvassing, which involves reviewing vote totals from absentee ballots and machines. A recount would examine every individual ballot, and in Kentucky most of them are paper.

"There have been no substantial changes after a review of the totals on the machines that would indicate a manual recount could possibly change the vote totals," Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes said.

But historically, recounts are more likely to change election results than recanvasses, said University of Kentucky law professor Joshua Douglas.

"It's a much more intensive process. ... It will take several weeks, probably," Douglas said. "You are actually physically recounting all the ballots."

The last major recount in Kentucky was in 1994, when former Democratic U.S. Rep. Mike Ward defeated Susan Stokes by about 500 votes.

Bevin declined to speak to a reporter at his campaign headquarters in Middletown on Thursday, but a spokesman said he plans to hold a news conference Friday. In a news release, Bevin declared victory, saying "it is an honor to be the Republican nominee."

"I have tremendous respect for Commissioner Comer and am glad that we went through the recanvass process so that the integrity of our election was validated," Bevin said.

If the results hold, it would resurrect Bevin's political career, which once appeared doomed after losing to U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell in last year's primary. While Comer and Hal Heiner scooped up endorsements and TV time, Bevin waited until the last day to file for the race and start another campaign that seemed destined to become another footnote in Republican politics.

But with few endorsements, more than $1 million of his own money and a mostly volunteer staff, Bevin attacked the county Lincoln Day dinner circuit that mostly shunned him last year and found a niche for himself as an alternative to the mudslinging that enveloped the candidacies of Comer and Heiner in the campaign's final days.

Bevin will now set his sights on Democratic nominee Jack Conway, a two-time statewide election winner as Kentucky's attorney general who stockpiled more than $1 million in campaign donations during a primary of minimal opposition. Bevin, meanwhile, mostly self-financed his race with money earned from his career as an investment banker.

Assuming Bevin is certified as the winner, he and Conway will face off in a rare off-year election in which Republicans see an opportunity to retake state government after making gains in the Legislature last year due in part to Democratic President Barack Obama's unpopularity here.

First, Bevin will have to rally the party following a divisive primary. The state's leading elected officials have embraced him, and McConnell has vowed to endorse him. But Bevin still has to prove he can win over Republican donors that have mostly avoided him.

"If I were Matt Bevin and his campaign, I'd be calling as many of those (donors) as I can right now," veteran Republican strategist Scott Jennings said. "He's run two elections in Kentucky and in neither case did he have much success raising money from donors in the state."

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Matt Bevin claimed the Republican nomination for governor with the help of a clunky fax machine in a crowded corner office of the state Capitol. But his opponent, James Comer, quickly moved to block him with an email from Florida.Kentucky election officials reviewed results...
Kentucky Governor, Recanvass
Friday, 29 May 2015 06:28 AM
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