"Last night the election ended. It ended, and it’s time to move forward,” Kentucky Governor-Elect Andy Beshear said. #KentuckyGovernorsRace #AndyBeshear #MattBevin
Republicans suffered setbacks in two states in off-year elections Tuesday, despite President Donald Trump’s efforts to rally supporters to the defense of GOP candidates down the ballot as the 2020 race heats up.
A staunchly pro-Trump Republican governor in Kentucky faced what could be an upset loss in his re-election bid. And in Virginia, Democrats seized both houses of the Legislature from Republicans, gaining full control of state government for the first time in 26 years.
The losses were largely attributable to local forces. Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin was deeply unpopular and other GOP officeholders did fairly well in the state, home to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Virginia Republicans entered the election with only a one-seat margin in each chamber in a state that has become more closely contested in presidential elections.
Even so, those races -- and other contests in Mississippi and New Jersey that saw no changes in power Tuesday -- were embraced by Trump and the Republican Party as key tests of the president’s popularity.
With one year until the presidential election, impeachment proceedings in Congress and the Democratic nomination battle just beginning, experts say Tuesday’s results have little predictive value for the 2020 election.
“It’s just too far out, and we don’t know what the circumstances will be next year,” said Kyle Kondik of the University of Virginia Center for Politics.
Earlier: Trump Says Kentucky Vote Will Send Message on Impeachment
With just four states conducting statewide elections on Tuesday, the sample was too small to extrapolate national trends. “These races tend to get a lot of attention, but I don’t think any of the states that we’re watching tonight are going to be any of the most competitive states that are going to be determining the presidency,” Kondik said on Tuesday night.
Trump campaigned aggressively for the Republican gubernatorial candidates, flying to Tupelo, Mississippi, last Friday to campaign for Lieutenant Governor Tate Reeves, who won the governorship, and led a rally in Lexington, Kentucky, on Monday for Bevin.
“If they lose they’re going to say Trump suffered the greatest defeat in the history of the world. You can’t let that happen to me,” Trump told the audience in Kentucky.
He clearly had an eye on election results Tuesday night, tweeting his congratulations to Kentucky Attorney General candidate Daniel Cameron, a Republican who became the first African-American elected as the state’s chief law enforcement officer. “Great going Daniel, proud of you!” Trump wrote.
Trump also boasted on Twitter of winning “5 out of 6 elections in Kentucky, including five great candidates that I spoke for and introduced last night.”
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