While there was a Republican loss in the state’s highest seat, Tuesday’s election offered down-ballot, across-the-board wins for Republican candidates both across the state and in Floyd County.
Floyd County voted against the grain in two races — the governor and attorney general races — but voters fell in line with the statewide push toward Republican-elects in all other races
Republican candidates won all but the governor’s race in Kentucky, with the majority of voters selecting Republicans Michael G. Adams for secretary of state, Daniel Cameron for attorney general, Mike Harmon for state auditor, Allison Ball as treasurer and Ryan F. Quarles as agriculture commissioner.
In Floyd County, voters picked Adams by 117-vote majority, Harmon by a 653-vote margin, Ball by a 2,975-vote margin and Quarles by a 594-vote margin.
According to unofficial election results released by the Secretary of State, Attorney General Andy Beshear won the race by a lead of 5,189 votes. Gov. Matt Bevin received 704,388 votes, while Beshear received 709,577 votes, the agency reported online. Bevin, however, has called for a recanvass — something that Floyd County Democrats and Republicans responded to this week.
The governor’s race made national headlines with some major news networks tying Bevin’s loss to President Donald Trump, who campaigned with him in Lexington on the eve of the election.
Floyd County Democratic Party Chairman Keith Bartley believes Trump’s visit helped Bevin, as the Republican Party of Kentucky asserted.
“If I were the governor of the state of Kentucky and I had the support of the president of the United States and the vice president of the United States and the majority leader of the United States senate, and I had the entire state budget to play with and to dole out and all the money I had to spend in the election, and I couldn’t get myself re-elected — then that’s clearly a referendum on the governor himself, not Trump,” he said. “And, quite frankly, if I were that governor, I’d be ashamed to ask for a recanvass or a recount ... and I’d go back to where I came from.”
He said the race would not have been so close if Trump had not supported Bevin.
“Floyd County has historically been one of the strongest Democratic counties in Kentucky,” Bartley said. “For many years, I would have said it was the strongest Democratic county in Kentucky. But a lot of things have happened on the national level in the last decade that has changed that. I believe with everything in me, that if it had not been for the support of the president, we’d have beat Matt Bevin 10 times more.”
Floyd County Republican Party Vice Chairman James Alan Williams believes his party lost the governor’s race because of statements Bevin made about teachers.
“I’m disappointed in the governor’s race, but I think what it shows was that statewide, the state is leaning Republican,” he said. “I think Bevin has some issues, mainly with teachers, which caused — they caused his loss, in a large part. Other than that, though, really, it’s encouraging to see that all the other candidates won their races. I think probably if we had chosen another Republican candidate for governor in the primary, I think they probably would have won.”
The State Board of Elections reports that there are 4,928 Republicans and 23,704 Democrats registered in Floyd County — reflecting a voting pool that is about 16.5 percent Republican and about 79.4 percent Democrat.
Floyd Countians overwhelmingly supported republican President Donald Trump in 2016, giving him 73 percent of all votes cast. The year prior, however, Floyd County frowned on the opportunity to put Bevin in office, voting, instead, by a 1,000-vote margin, to give that seat to a Democrat who did not prevail in the race. At the time, local officials credited Republican election wins to a “Trump wave” that swept the country.
Williams believes that sentiment is still strong today in Floyd County, as Democrats were chosen in only two races on Tuesday.
“I think a lot of the Democrats here are tired of the Democrats and they realize the Democratic Party does not represent them nationally any longer and they’re changing to Republican in droves, really,” Williams said. “Obviously, in the attorney general’s race, there was a native Floyd countian running for that on the Democrat side, and that surely helped swing votes in his way. And also, I think the teacher’s union has been strong here in Floyd County and I think that really swayed a lot of people who were concerned about their retirement to vote for the Democratic candidate. And that’s really what happened across the state, as far as the governor’s race goes. But generally, what we are seeing is a strong swing of people changing to Republicans here in Floyd County. And, especially the sentiment, even if they haven’t changed their registration yet.”
Bartley said he was a “little surprised” about the results in attorney general’s race, where Prestonsburg resident Greg Stumbo lost the race to Cameron by a statewide margin of nearly 221,000 votes.
“I knew it was going to be difficult for any Democrat running for any office in Kentucky right now, or any statewide office,” Bartley said. “But I was a little surprised by the margin, to be honest ... It’s been a long and prosperous career for Greg and he’s done an excellent job for the state of Kentucky. But every political career does have a life expectancy, mine included.”
He praised Beshear as a “fine young man” who will “treat everybody, from one end of Kentucky to the other, with respect and dignity and humility.”
“And I expect him to be able to bring Kentuckians back together,” he said.
In calling for a recount on Wednesday, Bevin alleged that Kentucky has “more than a little bit of history with vote fraud,” that “thousands of absentee ballots” were “illegally counted,” that people were turned away at polls and other issues.
After he made those accusations, the Floyd County Republican Party posted a Facebook post entitled “Election Fraud Costs Gov. Bevin Election.”
Williams believes those allegations are true.
“That absolutely played a part in it. We’ve seen that nationally. It always seems to be the Democratic side, where there’s voter fraud. You have precincts that have 100 percent Democrat and precincts where, like 100 percent voted, there’s something going on,” Williams said. “That’s absolutely an issue that needs to be addressed. It’s not right. Somebody needs to go to jail and it’s whoever is cheating and doing this fraud, voting people who aren’t really voting.”
Republicans have offered no evidence to prove those claims.
The Kentucky Attorney General’s office reported there was one complaint about electioneering near the polls and one voting machine complaint in the county in Floyd County. The office received 82 calls on Election Day, with complaints ranging from legal questions and voting machine issues to allegations of election fraud and electioneering.
Bartley said, “I think regardless of whether Gov. Bevin wants to concede or not, I think it’s obvious that the voters have spoken and Andy Beshear will be your next governor. ‘I’m absolutely elated that he did win. We needed a change in the governor’s office. We need our state to get away from bullying people and to get back to treating people with humility.”
Bartley was “a little” surprised that the Wheelwright precinct voted for Beshear and not Bevin, who visited the city to announce recently that the state is working on a lease to reopen the former prison there.
“There was a lot of work that went into that area in the last couple of days, I promise you,” Bartley said. “A lot of work.”
He accused Bevin about lying about the state’s efforts to reopen the prison.
“I think that and obviously that, and a million other issues, Beshear has to get immediately to trying to figure out. ... The truth of the matter is Matt Bevin came there and announced those jobs when he doesn’t even have a lease on the facility itself. There is no possibility of a prison going to Wheelwright, Kentucky, right now. Their only hope is that Andy Beshear makes it happen. Remember, Bevin is announcing jobs at a facility where they don’t even have a lease. It is so clear that all Bevin did was try to buy votes with the promise of jobs. It’s as plain as the noise on your face.”
Floyd County voters favored Democrats in only two state races, the governor’s race and the attorney general’s race, on Tuesday, and county precinct reports also show Floyd County voters who sided with Governor-elect Andy Beshear were more likely to vote for Prestonsburg native Greg Stumbo in the attorney general’s race.
According to reports provided by County Clerk Chris Waugh, Beshear carried 27 precincts, whereas incumbent Bevin carried 17 in the governor’s race in Floyd County. In the attorney general’s race, Stumbo carried 30 Floyd County precincts, while Cameron carried 13.
Beshear beat Bevin in Floyd County by 855 votes, and Stumbo defeated Cameron in Floyd County by 762 votes.
Stumbo lost statewide, but he won his home county, carrying 53.37 percent of votes over Cameron, who won 46.56 percent of votes in Floyd County.
Of the 27 precincts in Floyd County that leaned for Beshear on on Election Day, the biggest vote leads for Beshear came from Tickey (110 votes), Antioch (83 votes), John Ant (143 votes) and, among others, Drift (67 votes). In each of those precincts, Stumbo also won by wide margins.
In Floyd County, Bevin got the most votes from Cliff, Abbott and Betsy Layne voting precincts, and he won by the smallest majorities in Endicott/Buffalo (three votes), Richmond (three votes), Porter (one vote), Little Mud (eight votes), Ivel (eight votes) and Mouth of Mud (four votes).
The majority of votes went to Bevin in all but one of those precincts (Mouth of Mud), and in those precincts where Bevin barely defeated Beshear in Floyd County, voters favored Stumbo.
Of the 30 precincts that Stumbo carried in Floyd County, voters in six of them (Ivel, Little Mud, Porter, Richmond, Endicott/Buffalo and Courthouse/Trimble Branch) chose Bevin in the governor’s race. Stumbo lost 11 Floyd County precincts that went to Bevin.
Stumbo won all but three precincts that were carried by Beshear: Bosco, Beech Grove and Arkansas Creek — the only three precincts in Floyd County that voted for both Beshear and Cameron.
According to the precinct reports, nearly 53 percent of voters in Floyd County voted for Beshear, and 53 percent of voters selected Stumbo.
The percentage of Floyd County voters who selected Republicans total nearly 51 percent in the secretary of state’s race, 52 percent in the auditor’s race, 51 percent in the agriculture commissioner race and a whopping 64 percent in the treasurer’s race in favor of Prestonsburg resident Allison Ball.