President Donald Trump’s allies are downplaying his failed effort to boost Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin to a clear win Tuesday night, with White House counselor Kellyanne Conway offering evidence-free claims of voting “irregularities” and other Republican leaders claiming Bevin was much further behind than polls showed.
The GOP incumbent was unable to capture a second term in the immediate aftermath of the state’s closely watched gubernatorial election, but he has refused to concede the race and referenced unspecified “irregularities” in the voting process during his remarks Tuesday.
“What they are exactly, how many, which ones, and what effect, if any, they have will be determined according to law,” Bevin said, without offering examples or elaborating on his allegations.
Conway parroted those talking points Wednesday during an appearance on Fox News. “It’s too close to call. I think they’re looking at the voter irregularities in some places,” she told the hosts of “Fox & Friends.”
Bevin trails his Democratic opponent, state Attorney General Andy Beshear, by roughly 5,000 votes with all precincts reporting, and Conway credited the tight nature of the race to Trump’s campaign rally Monday in Lexington on Bevin’s behalf.
“I think the president made this race competitive, as did the vice president,” Conway said, predicting Trump would “dominate the state again” in the 2020 election cycle.
“We’ll see what happens. Gov. Bevin is trailing by less than half a percentage point,” she added.
The White House and Republican operatives have sought to spin the disappointing showing by Bevin, regarded as perhaps the country’s most unpopular governor, as significantly bolstered by the president’s intervention in the race — even though public polling ahead of Election Day showed Bevin and Beshear locked in a single-digit contest.
“Our big Kentucky Rally on Monday night had a massive impact on all of the races. The increase in Governors race was at least 15 points, and maybe 20!” Trump wrote on Twitter early Wednesday morning.
“No one energizes our base like @realDonaldTrump,” Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel wrote Tuesday night in a message retweeted by the president. “In Kentucky, the governor was down 17 points. President Trump helped lift the entire ticket, winning 5 of 6 statewide races so far!”
Although the Associated Press has declined to project a winner in the gubernatorial election, Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes called the race in favor of Beshear, who has declared victory.
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