Trump suffers blow as Democrats make surprise gains over Republicans in key state elections

GOP loses Kentucky governor’s race and Virginia legislature in stunning electoral upset

Zamira Rahim
Wednesday 06 November 2019 09:45
Donald Trump says Matt Bevin losing 'sends a really bad message, you can’t let that happen to me!' at Kentucky rally

Democrats have declared victory in key elections in Kentucky and Virginia, gaining control of the latter state’s government for the first time since 1993.

The upsets in the traditionally conservative states are a significant blow for the Republican Party and Donald Trump, ahead of the 2020 presidential election.

Andy Beshear, the Democratic challenger in Kentucky, declared victory in the governor’s race over Matt Bevin, the Republican incumbent, on Tuesday night.

“Tonight, voters in Kentucky sent a message, loud and clear, for everyone to hear,” Mr Beshear said.

“It’s a message that says our elections don’t have to be about right versus left, they are still about right versus wrong.”

Despite Mr Beshear’s victory speech, Matt Bevin is yet to concede defeat.

The governor is one of the most unpopular in the country, following clashes with teachers in Kentucky.

His apparent loss came a day after Donald Trump appeared at a rally and encouraged residents to vote for him.

“He’s such a pain in the ass, but that’s what you want!” Mr Trump said of the controversial governor during his speech.

He added that if Mr Bevin lost, the media would say “Trump suffered the greatest defeat in the history of the world.”

“This would be the greatest [loss],” Mr Trump said on Monday, appealing to the crowd to vote.

“You can’t let that happen to me!”

In Virginia, Democrats won majorities in both houses of the state legislature. Ralph Northam, the state’s Democratic governor, has held office since January 2018.

“I’m here to officially declare today, 5 November 2019, that Virginia is officially blue,” Mr Northam told a crowd of supporters in the state capital, Richmond.

The party’s gains in Virginia came in suburban areas, which have become increasingly pro-Democrat in recent years.

Republicans did manage to secure victory in Mississippi, where the president campaigned for Tate Reeves, a Republican candidate for governor.

Mr Reeves will succeed the term-limited GOP governor Phil Bryant.

All the results were closely watched for indications of how the 2020 presidential contest could unfold, though pollsters warned against reading too much into individual races.

Brad Parscale, Mr Trump’s 2020 campaign manager, tried to reframe the Kentucky result in a positive manner for the president.

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“The president just about dragged Matt Bevin across the finish line, helping him run stronger than expected in what turned into a very close race at the end.” Mr Parscale claimed.

Elsewhere, the US Justice Department confirmed Tuesday’s state and local elections showed no evidence of successful tampering by any foreign government.

“While at this time we have no evidence of a compromise or disruption to election infrastructure that would enable adversaries to prevent voting, change vote counts or disrupt the ability to tally votes, we continue to vigilantly monitor any threats to U.S. elections,” a joint statement from the department and US security agencies said.

Additional reporting by agencies

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