Businessman Matt Bevin won the Governor’s race in Kentucky Tuesday, becoming just the second Republican Governor in the Commonwealth in the last 40 years.
The election went down to the wire, with the New York Times giving Bevin’s Democrat opponent, Jack Conway, the edge just two days ago.
Although Kentucky has been a reliable Republican state in Presidential elections, Democrats have had something of a lock on the Governor’s mansion. Republicans have only held the state’s highest office for four of the last 44 years. Bevin’s win also completes a Republican sweep of Governor’s races in Southern states.
Bevin’s victory is something of a comeback for the Republican. An outsider to politics, Bevin was a Tea Party favorite who challenged Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in a primary in 2014. Bevin lost that race but won a contested primary for the Governor’s office earlier this year. In that primary, Bevin overcame two well-funded opponents with deep ties to the state’s Republican establishment.
The early call in the race by the Associated Press indicates that the election was not as close as polls had suggested. The last poll in the race, the Herald-Leader Bluegrass Poll, put Conway up by 5 points. Bevin’s solid win was powered by a strong Republican turnout in the state.
In the closing days of the campaign, the debate over ObamaCare took center stage again. The state’s co-op providing health insurance to ObamaCare recipients went bankrupt, throwing 500,000 individuals off their insurance plans. The state’s co-op had been propped up by federal ObamaCare grants.
The implosion of a critical piece of ObamaCare in the state no doubt had an impact on the Governor’s race. With co-ops in other states teetering on the edge of insolvency, it could impact races even more in 2016.