The #RedforEd teachers movement flexed its political muscle in the Kentucky gubernatorial race on Tuesday, powering the campaign of Democrat Attorney General Andy Beshear against incumbent Republican Gov. Matt Bevin.
With 100 percent of precincts reporting as of 9:55 p.m. EST, Beshear had a narrow 0.3 point lead, with 49.2 percent of the vote to Bevin’s 48.9 percent. Libertarian candidate John Hicks had two percent of the vote.
In raw votes, Bevin trailed Beshear by a little more than 4,000 votes out of more than 1.4 million cast.
NBC called the race for Beshear at 9:20 pm.
The Associated Press has refused to declare a winner late Tuesday saying the race was too close to call, and Bevin refused to concede on Tuesday night telling supporters the same.
Due to the narrowness of the margin, Bevin may decide to ask for a recount. If he does, the election results will not be certified until the recount is completed.
Ballotpedia reports, in Kentucky, a gubernatorial candidate
who has won at least 25 percent of the votes cast for the successful candidate for the office in question can contest the election, which entails a recount. Candidates are liable for the costs associated with a recount.
Regardless of the outcome, the closeness of this race–Bevin is an incumbent Republican in a state President Donald Trump won by nearly 30 percent in 2016–has been fueled by an infusion of some interesting local factors and national leftist movements.
Bevin’s handling of a series of unauthorized teachers strikes organized by the local Kentucky #RedforEd teachers group this past spring created great anger among many of the state’s teachers, and they vowed to defeat him in November, as Breitbart News reported:
In February, “the local #RedforEd affiliate in the state, Kentucky 120 United, launched a protest of legislation under consideration at the state legislature that shut down public schools in several counties,” Breitbart News reported.
These wildcat strikes resulted in the shutdown of a significant number of public schools around the state, and subsequent action by the State Department of Labor, as Breitbart News reported in August.
More than 1,000 Kentucky teachers broke the state’s labor laws when they called in sick to participate in #RedforEd promoted protests over their pension funds at the state capitol this spring, Kentucky’s Secretary of Labor said on Friday.
But none of the 1,074 teachers who broke the law will be fired or prosecuted, Secretary of Labor David Dickerson said. Instead, they were given a one-time warning, with the promise of future consequences should they break the labor law again.
Bitterness against Bevin on the part of the state’s teachers could play a big role in the outcome, one local professor says.
“Who is going to win depends heavily on, heavily on how angry the teachers remain,” Dr. Tom Matijasic, Professor of History at Big Sandy Community and Technical College told WHCS TV in Prestonburg, Kentucky.
Former Obama campaign adviser David Axelrod, speaking on CNN Tuesday night, highlighted Bevin’s “controversies with the teachers” as key to Bevin’s poor election results.
Antipathy towards Bevin from the #RedforEd movement and its supporters was palpable, as this election night tweet from Jeff Bryant, education reporter for the Independent Media Institute shows:
Glad to read Democrat Andy Beshear has won the governor's race in Kentucky defeating incumbent Republican Gov. Matt Bevin. Anything I did to help bring this reprobate down I hope played a part. https://t.co/18tIPxoIuH #Red4Ed
— Jeff Bryant (@jeffbcdm) November 6, 2019
Bevin was elected governor in 2015, a remarkable political resurrection after he was crushed in his 2014 GOP primary challenge to Senate Majority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), when he lost by 25 points.
Undaunted, Bevin quickly launched a campaign for governor, scoring a narrow primary victory, then easily defeated his Democrat opponent in November 2015 by a 52 percent to 39 percent margin.
But a series of early missteps and controversies left him with low approval ratings. He unceremoniously dumped his Lieutenant Governor and 2015 running mate, Tea Party favorite and Air Force veteran Jenean Hampton, from his 2019 ticket. She in turn sued him for firing her chief of staff.
On Monday, President Trump held a boisterous rally in Lexington, attended by Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), Sen. McConnell, and Gov. Bevin, to help get-out-the-vote for Bevin’s re-election.
In contrast to Bevin, all other Republicans running for statewide office won. Republican Daniel Cameron, for instance, was easily elected Attorney General by a 57 percent to 43 percent margin. Republicans won every other state wide office, including Secretary of State, State Treasurer, Auditor, and Commissioner of Agriculture.