3 takeaways from Tuesday's elections in Kentucky, Virginia and Mississippi

Democrats were celebrating Tuesday night, while President...

Posted: Nov 6, 2019 10:03 AM
Updated: Nov 6, 2019 2:00 PM

Democrats were celebrating Tuesday night, while President Donald Trump and Republicans were left to explain why they were behind in one of the reddest states in the nation.

In Kentucky, Democratic Attorney General Andy Beshear was poised to defeat Republican Gov. Matt Bevin, holding onto a 0.4-percentage-point lead with all precincts reporting even as Bevin said he would not concede. Trump had tried to bolster Bevin, holding a rally with him Monday night in Kentucky and telling the state's GOP voters that the race's outcome would be seen as a reflection on him.

If Beshear hangs on, he has said he would ease Medicaid access, overhaul the state's education leadership and restore the voting rights of former felons who have done their time.

In Virginia, Democrats won majorities in both the House and Senate, giving the party full control of the state's government and solidifying what had once been a swing state as a stronghold for the party. Their wins open the door for new gun control laws, an increased minimum wage and other progressive measures that Republicans had previously blocked.

And in Mississippi, Republicans had held onto the governor's office, beating back a veteran Democrat's bid for another potential election-night stunner. The GOP's win there means the state is likely to continue pursuing tax cuts and opposing an expansion of Medicaid.

Here are three takeaways from Tuesday's elections:

Kentucky governor's race spells trouble for Republicans

It's true that Bevin was a troubled candidate. He worked to roll back Kentucky's Medicaid expansion. His brash style was on display when he accused protesting teachers of being 'selfish' and having a 'thug mentality' when they objected to his efforts to slash their pensions. Polls showed he was among the nation's least popular governors.

But make no mistake: National Republicans were all-in on Bevin.

Trump spent Monday night rallying with Bevin in Kentucky. Vice President Mike Pence last week went on a bus tour with the first-term governor. And the Republican Governors Association spent millions of dollars attempting to bolster him on the airwaves.

Republicans sought to explain away Tuesday's result -- trailing in the governor's race in a state Trump won by 30 percentage points -- by pointing to their victories in five down-ballot statewide races and throwing Bevin under the bus.

'The President just about dragged Gov. Matt Bevin across the finish line, helping him run stronger than expected in what turned into a very close race at the end,' Trump 2020 campaign manager Brad Parscale said in a statement.

But the causes for criticism of Bevin -- his combative personality, penchant for controversy and pursuit of controversial policies -- could also apply to Trump.

And Trump himself, just a night earlier, had said the outcome of Bevin's reelection bid would be a reflection on him.

'If you lose, they're going to say Trump suffered the greatest defeat in the history of the world. This was the greatest. You can't let that happen to me,' he told Bevin at their rally.

That the GOP trails in the governor's race in a state Trump won by 30 percentage points is a bad sign for the party across the board. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, the most powerful Kentuckian in politics and a veteran of tough elections, is on the ballot next year. And while Tuesday's results don't necessarily forecast trouble for McConnell, they do likely mean Amy McGrath, a leading Democratic challenger, will likely see a fundraising boon.

If Beshear is ultimately certified the winner, he has said he would pursue an agenda of making Medicaid more accessible -- restoring the policies of his father, popular former Gov. Steve Beshear, who expanded the program before leaving office four years ago. He has also said he would replace Bevin's state board of education and allowing 140,000 former felons who have served their time to vote.

A Democratic trifecta in Virginia

Democrats cemented a new reality in Virginia on Tuesday: For decades a Republican stronghold, and then a swing state, the commonwealth is now controlled by Democrats.

The party won majorities in Virginia's House and Senate, gaining full control of the state government for the first time in two decades.

The victories put Gov. Ralph Northam and Democrats in the legislature in position to pursue a progressive agenda -- including gun control measures, which a majority of Republicans had blocked, and a higher minimum wage.

With the 'trifecta' of the House, Senate and governor's office, Democrats will also control the redistricting process after the 2020 Census, drawing the new maps for congressional and state legislative districts.

That was a key focus for the party in the wake of state-level losses during former President Barack Obama's administration. Each trifecta represents a foothold that can be used to bolster the party's ranks in Congress and to cement their status as the majority party in statehouses for another decade.

Tuesday's results were a continuation of the years-long collapse of the GOP in what until recently had been a swing state. Virginia voted for George W. Bush in the 2004 presidential election and elected Republican Bob McDonnell governor in 2009, but has backed Democratic presidential and gubernatorial candidates since those elections.

The victories completed a Democratic comeback in the state legislature that began in 2017, when Democrats made major gains in the legislature, largely through suburban districts, and Northam won handily in an early sign of backlash over Trump's presidency.

That election left the GOP with a 51-49 House majority and a 21-19 advantage in the Senate, and Democrats immediately began targeting legislative seats in hopes of winning control this year.

But that comeback was threatened this year when Northam was accused of appearing in a yearbook photo dressed in blackface, and Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax was accused of sexually assaulting two women.

GOP wins in Mississippi

The best news of the night for Republicans came in Mississippi, where they won the race to replace outgoing Gov. Phil Bryant.

The governor's race in such a solidly red state would ordinarily be no cause for suspense.

But Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves faced a serious challenge from Democratic Attorney General Jim Hood, a moderate candidate who had already won statewide four times.

The race was in part a referendum on expanding Medicaid: Reeves, an anti-spending conservative, said he would continue the state's rejection of an expansion under Obamacare, while Hood said he would expand Medicaid to cover an additional 100,000 people.

Reeves was also bolstered by campaign appearance from Trump, his son Donald Trump Jr. and Pence.

Trump congratulated Reeves Tuesday night.

'Our big Rally on Friday night moved the numbers from a tie to a big WIN. Great reaction under pressure Tate,' Trump tweeted.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 766351

Reported Deaths: 13965
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1052671804
Lake568691028
Allen42858698
St. Joseph37286568
Hamilton37260426
Elkhart29729470
Tippecanoe23441230
Vanderburgh23153404
Porter19568327
Johnson18807391
Hendricks18059321
Madison13518345
Clark13502198
Vigo12817255
LaPorte12558224
Monroe12529178
Delaware11124198
Howard10654237
Kosciusko9751123
Hancock8734149
Bartholomew8256157
Warrick8053157
Floyd8005181
Grant7349181
Wayne7234201
Boone7173105
Morgan6904142
Marshall6329116
Dubois6270118
Cass6085111
Dearborn600078
Noble597890
Henry5944111
Jackson515677
Shelby509897
Lawrence4914127
Gibson461596
Montgomery457592
Clinton454555
DeKalb453685
Harrison452476
Whitley415345
Huntington414081
Steuben410260
Miami405073
Jasper400455
Knox388091
Putnam384662
Wabash368783
Adams352256
Ripley351071
Jefferson341586
White339354
Daviess3089100
Wells302781
Greene292985
Decatur291693
Fayette285864
Posey280935
Scott278758
LaGrange277172
Clay273148
Washington253537
Randolph247583
Jennings238649
Spencer237931
Fountain234850
Starke229959
Owen222259
Sullivan219543
Fulton207845
Jay202832
Carroll197122
Orange190956
Perry189739
Vermillion180044
Rush177327
Tipton172347
Franklin171935
Parke154816
Pike141434
Blackford137832
Pulaski123648
Newton123036
Benton109615
Brown105943
Crawford105516
Martin92515
Warren87715
Switzerland8328
Union73510
Ohio58311
Unassigned0428

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1122647

Reported Deaths: 20467
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1302911493
Cuyahoga1171502259
Hamilton823481259
Montgomery534491059
Summit488581014
Lucas43734832
Butler39936614
Stark33800937
Lorain25996509
Warren24896312
Mahoning22685612
Lake21457396
Clermont20368260
Delaware19120138
Licking16842227
Trumbull16786491
Fairfield16762207
Medina15832276
Greene15499254
Clark14339308
Portage13417218
Wood13338201
Allen12043245
Richland11726213
Miami10998228
Wayne9251227
Columbiana9196236
Muskingum9119137
Pickaway8738123
Tuscarawas8714254
Marion8703140
Erie8126166
Ashtabula7272179
Hancock7044134
Ross7012165
Geauga6948153
Scioto6679108
Belmont6210179
Lawrence5917104
Union590449
Jefferson5723162
Huron5630122
Sandusky5482130
Darke5436130
Seneca5376128
Washington5362111
Athens526560
Auglaize507087
Mercer490685
Shelby481297
Knox4609112
Madison447266
Ashland443198
Defiance438499
Fulton435775
Putnam4351104
Crawford4110111
Brown409662
Preble3946107
Logan391679
Clinton389266
Ottawa375581
Highland365068
Williams356478
Champaign348360
Guernsey330254
Jackson321254
Perry298350
Morrow294643
Fayette288250
Hardin279165
Henry276967
Coshocton272561
Holmes2725102
Van Wert251665
Adams249258
Gallia249250
Pike244637
Wyandot235257
Hocking222663
Carroll201249
Paulding179442
Meigs151040
Noble137739
Monroe137545
Harrison115238
Morgan111524
Vinton87217
Unassigned03
Fort Wayne
Partly Cloudy
84° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 64°
Feels Like: 87°
Angola
Clear
84° wxIcon
Hi: 85° Lo: 64°
Feels Like: 87°
Huntington
Clear
83° wxIcon
Hi: 85° Lo: 62°
Feels Like: 85°
Decatur
Partly Cloudy
84° wxIcon
Hi: 86° Lo: 63°
Feels Like: 87°
Van Wert
Clear
82° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 63°
Feels Like: 84°
It's a steamy Wednesday with scattered showers and thunderstorms arriving Wednesday night.
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