Gov. Matt Bevin (R), state Attorney General Andy Beshear (D), and John Hicks (L) are running in Kentucky’s gubernatorial election on November 5. This election follows nearly four years of conflict between Bevin and Beshear, which began when each was elected to his current position.
Between Bevin, Beshear, and groups affiliated with the Republican Governors Association and Democratic Governors Association, radio and television ad spending has broken $20 million. In the past week, those four groups have accounted for $5 million in spending.
Bevin has received endorsements from several elected officials, including President Donald Trump (R), Vice President Mike Pence (R), and Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee (R). Beshear’s endorsers include 2019 gubernatorial primary candidates state Rep. Rocky Adkins (D) and state Rep. William Woods (R), in addition to Republican state Sen. Dan Seum. The Lexington Herald-Leader was the only major newspaper in the state to make an endorsement, and they endorsed Beshear.
Bevin and Beshear met in a series of five debates in October. The candidates discussed issues including education, job creation, healthcare, and casino gaming. Local sources described several of the debates as combative. In addition to the October debates, the candidates both participated in the Fancy Farm Picnic in August and a July forum held by the Kentucky Farm Bureau.
Both The Cook Political Report and Inside Elections rate the race a Toss-Up, while Larry J. Sabato’s Crystal Ball rates it as Lean Republican. Inside Elections changed their rating from Lean Republican to Toss-Up in July. Poll results have varied, showing either Bevin or Beshear ahead or both in a tie.
This race will decide the state’s trifecta status until at least the 2020 state legislative elections. Kentucky is currently a Republican trifecta. If Bevin wins, Republicans will maintain their trifecta control of the state, while a Beshear or Hicks victory would result in neither party having trifecta control. Before Bevin’s 2015 victory, Democrats held the governorship for 16 of the previous 20 years.