The outcome will be a test of the political power of the #RedforEd teachers movement, which has aggressively pursued a political agenda in Kentucky over the past year, against the popularity of President Trump and the depth of the impeachment inquiry backlash among his supporters.
In Kentucky, turnout was up by almost 50% from 2015, when the state last held a governor's race. "You still hear that from people in their 80s who are still very much tied to the Democratic Party of yesterday, including my family". In two other Philadelphia-area suburbs, they captured Chester County's board of commissioners for the first time in history and seized control of Bucks County's board of commissioners for the first time since the 1980s. Monday night, Donald Trump held a rally and one of his themes was begging Kentucky voters to re-elect Bevin. The general election is set for Tuesday, November 3 2020.
While Katz's victory may be a win for Democrats, the Queens for DA Accountability Coalition, a coalition of grassroots organizations and advocates centering on Black and Brown immigrant, migrant and other communities impacted by incarceration, said that they will keep pressure on Katz to follow their agenda and abide by Democratic ideals.
"There are some troubling signs amongst some of the areas that are going to matter most in 2020: suburban areas in major metro areas in battleground states", said Kevin Madden, a Republican strategist who was a senior adviser on Mitt Romney's 2012 presidential campaign. Trump won the state by 20 percentage points in 2016. Still, it was hard for Republicans not to note the warning signs for the party next year and beyond.
Turnout was heavy by the standards of off-year elections, but still quite low, just over 40 percent of registered voters. "And I'll tell you what, we will be ready for that first day in office, and I look forward to it".
The Republicans brought in their big gun. Costa also reported, fairly, that many Trump allies tried to explain away Bevin's poor performance as an "anomaly". "I think they're looking at the voter irregularities in some places", White House counselor Kellyanne Conway told Fox News Wednesday. "He'll dominate next year". But any illusions teachers may hold, likely based on the conviction that no governor could be more hostile to them than Bevin, will be quickly dispelled by the experience of an equally right-wing Democratic administration. In Virginia, where Medicaid expansion passed a year ago, voters gave control of the legislature to Democrats, which could result in Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam withdrawing or freezing a pending request to impose work requirements on beneficiaries. But Beshear, the state's attorney general and son of Bevin's predecessor, came out ahead in a race that drew more than 1.4 million residents to the polls.
"Won 5 out of 6 elections in Kentucky, including 5 great candidates that I spoke for and introduced last night", he tweeted.
The results raised the question of why the president embraced an unpopular governor so late in the campaign. The Democrats flipped both the house and senate in a state seen as a bellwether of the national political mood.
Beshear, the attorney general of Kentucky, was able to drive up turnout in the commonwealth's urban and suburban centers and received stronger-than-expected numbers in some rural areas.
Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., who faces a tight reelection race next year in a swing state, said that he didn't "see a wave there".
Democrats' surging strength in the suburbs reflects the anxiety Trump provokes among moderates, particularly women, who have rejected his scorched-earth politics and uncompromising conservative policies on health care, education and gun violence.
The rally was attended by well over 10,000 Kentuckians, many wearing t-shirts that said "Read the Transcript", all of whom showed their boisterous support for both the president and Gov. Bevin.