Incumbent Republican Gov. Matt Bevin has won a closer-than-expected primary election and will face Attorney General Andy Beshear during this year’s race to be Kentucky’s next governor.
The two men have been political rivals since taking office more than three years ago with Beshear, a Democrat, filing a series of lawsuits against Bevin over executive orders and a controversial pension bill.
During a press conference after the election results, Bevin immediately went after Beshear, saying that this year’s election will be a decision between “conservative versus liberal, black and white.”
“The contrast with Ralph and myself, who are strongly pro-life, who are supported by President Trump and supportive of the values of the people of Kentucky…it will be a binary choice,” Bevin said.
Bevin’s running mate is state Sen. Ralph Alvarado, a Republican from Winchester.
State Rep. Robert Goforth, a relative political newcomer, mounted a significant challenge against Bevin in the Republican Primary, taking much of eastern and southern Kentucky with 39 percent of the vote according to initial returns. Bevin won 52.4 percent.
Recent polls have shown Bevin with the lowest approval rating in the country after a series of controversial policy proposals and inflammatory remarks about teachers that helped spark massive protests in Frankfort.
The Democratic primary was hotly contested between Beshear, longtime state Rep. Rocky Adkins, former Auditor Adam Edelen and perennial candidate Geoff Young.
Beshear easily won Kentucky’s two most populous counties — Fayette and Jefferson — as well as much of western Kentucky. But Adkins made the race close, sweeping all of eastern Kentucky.
During his victory speech, Beshear accused Bevin of being a “bully.”
“We were raised better than the bullying than we’re seeing in Frankfort, we were raised better than the name-calling we’re seeing in Frankfort and when we win on November 5th we’re going to start acting better than we’ve seen too,” Beshear said.
Beshear’s running mate is Jacqueline Coleman, a school administrator from Nelson County.
Initial returns showed Beshear winning 37.9 percent of the Democratic vote, Adkins with 32.5 percent, Edelen with 27.4 percent and Young with 2.3 percent.