Photo via Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 2.0

Election Night Recap: GOP, Dems Split Victories as Ky. Gov. Race Too Close to Call


The 2019 elections are just about in the books. Below are some of the biggest story lines after last night.

Kentucky Governor’s Race Still Too Close to Call as GOP Sweeps Other Statewide Races

The Kentucky governor’s race is too close to call after a wild finish that may get wilder.

Shortly after midnight on election night with all precincts reporting, Democrat challenger Andy Beshear held a 5,100 vote lead over incumbent Republican Gov. Matt Bevin, a margin of 0.4 percent.

Beshear was quick to declare victory, and Democrat Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes — who herself lost a high-profile challenge to Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell in 2014 — called the race for Beshear.

But Bevin acknowledged that it was “a close, close race” and said, “We are not conceding this race by any stretch.” A recount seems likely.

Kentucky is a reliably red state in presidential elections, but it has continued to favor Democrats in state elections. Bevin was only the second Republican since 1967 to win the governorship. The dynamics were also shaken up by the fact that Beshear is the son of former Governor Steve Beshear, who served two terms as governor, one term as lieutenant governor, one term as attorney general, and three terms in the state House. (Bevin succeeded Beshear in 2015.)

While the governor’s race appears far from over, Republicans swept the five other statewide races.

Daniel Cameron was elected Attorney General of Kentucky by a 15-point margin, and will become Kentucky’s first black attorney general and the first Republican to take the office in over 70 years.

Republican Michael Adams won Secretary of State with 52 percent of the vote, succeeding Grimes, who was term-limited. Adams will be the second Republican since 1972 to hold the office. Incumbent Republicans won re-election as state Treasurer, Agriculture Commissioner, and state Auditor by margins of at least 15 points. Republican candidates also won two special elections for state House seats.

Republicans Sweep Statewide Races in Mississippi

Republican Tate Reeves won the governorship in Mississippi on Tuesday and the GOP swept the statewide ballot overall.

Reeves, the current lieutenant governor, defeated Attorney General Jim Hood by about six points in a race that was ultimately not as close as anticipated. Hood is a popular, conservative, pro-life Democrat who had been elected attorney general four times in the otherwise ruby-red state. Hood was also the most well-funded Democrat to run statewide in many years. Democrats hoped a victory in the deep South would be a sign of things to come in 2020.

While Hood took every county on the state’s western border, known as the Delta region, it was not enough to overcome Reeves’ strong performance in the rest of the state. Reeves has been in statewide office since 2003, when he was elected state treasurer at the age of 29. He was re-elected once before being elected lieutenant governor in 2011 and 2015.

Republican Delbert Hosemann, the current Secretary of State, soundly defeated Democrat state Rep. Jay Hughes 60 percent to 40 percent in the Lieutenant Governor election. 

And Republican Lynn Fitch, currently the state treasurer, was elected the first female Attorney General of Mississippi, winning 58 percent of the vote over Democrat retired army colonel Jennifer Riley Collins.

Republicans also picked up three seats in the state Senate, increasing their majority to 36-16. Republicans also appeared to pick up three seats in the state House of Representatives and expand their majority to 75 out of 122 seats, but a handful of races are too close to call.

Republicans won every other statewide race, including Secretary of State, Treasurer, Agriculture Commissioner and Auditor, all with margins of at least 15 points.

Democrat Takeover of Virginia Devastates Republicans

Virginia Democrats had another a breathtaking blue wave in Tuesday’s statewide elections, completing a takeover of the state legislature and wiping out many of the last remaining Republicans in the Northern Virginia suburbs of Washington, D.C.

Democrats gained two seats in the state Senate and are projected to take a 21-19 majority in the upper chamber. (That majority could expand to 22-18 if Republicans cannot hold a Richmond-area seat where they led by 0.17 percent on election night.) Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax, who was publicly accused of rape and sexual assault by two women earlier this year, would break any ties in the closely divided Senate.

Democrats gained six seats in the House of Delegates and are projected to take a 55-45 majority in the lower chamber. (They could add another seat in another Richmond-area nailbiter, where Republicans held a 0.1 percent lead on election night.)

This is the first time Democrats have controlled the governorship and both houses of the General Assembly since 1993, and the first time they have controlled the House since 2000. The takeover also means Democrats will control the redistricting process after the 2020 census, and will seek to solidify their reign.

Democrats were helped by a 2-1 federal court ruling in June 2018 ordering that 25 General Assembly district lines be redrawn, claiming the existing districts were gerrymandered based on race. The U.S. Supreme Court upheld that ruling in a 5-4 decision this year, allowing a new, more Democrat-friendly map to be implemented. The ruling had a major effect on the Democrat takeover: Of the 8 Republican legislative seats taken over by Democrats on Tuesday, 4 were from the court-ordered districts. (The most noteworthy example is the 94th House District, which was literally tied in 2017 and the winner drawn from a hat — it went to the Democrats by 17 points.) Republicans had no pickups from redrawn districts, or anywhere in the state for that matter.

Northern Virginia was one of two epicenters for the blue wave. Perhaps the most dire news for Republicans was that the two sole remaining Republicans from Northern Virginia in the legislature were knocked out by Democrats. Del. Tim Hugo, who has served the southwestern suburbs since 2003, was defeated 53-46 percent. Democrats also won a Senate seat in the western suburbs that was vacated by a retiring Republican. There are now effectively zero Republicans from Northern Virginia in the General Assembly, save for Del. Dave LaRock, who serves an exurban district so far from D.C. that it borders West Virginia.

Democrats also wiped out remaining pockets of Republican resistance in Northern Virginia in county races. In the D.C.-area Fairfax County, Virginia’s largest county with 1.1 million residents — more than double the residents of the next largest county — Democrats took 12-0 control of the Fairfax County School Board after eliminating the board’s only two Republicans, including Elizabeth Schultz, who has often stood alone against the board’s attempts to impose transgender ideology on students. Democrats also picked up one seat on the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors to take a 9-1 majority. Also in Fairfax, George Soros-backed Commonwealth’s Attorney prosecutor candidate Steve Descano defeated independent Jonathan Fahey 61-39 percent. Democrats took command of the boards of supervisors in Virginia’s second and fourth-largest counties, Prince William and Loudoun: Prince William’s 6-2 GOP majority is now 5-3 Democrat, and Loudoun’s 6-3 GOP majority is now 6-3 Democrat. 

The other epicenter was the Virginia Beach-Norfolk area, the location of most of the redrawn districts. Democrats made four of their pickups in the densely populated, traditionally-Republican region. Most counties in the area did not have more than one or two local elections, limiting the damage there.

A full analysis is forthcoming once the dust settles. But a few initial takeaways are clear:

First, national politics continue to dominate Northern Virginia. There is one issue affecting elections in Northern Virginia: Donald Trump. Democrat campaigns did little more than seek to tie their Republican opponents to Trump. Local issues and the relative strength of candidates did not appear to factor in to the decisions of Northern Virginia voters. The unstoppable growth of power in Washington, D.C. continues to blue-ify Northern Virginia.

Second, Republicans should not be so sure that the push for impeachment will hurt Democrats and motivate Republicans in 2020. That might happen, but unimpressive turnout in Republican strongholds in Virginia show that it certainly isn’t happening yet.

Third, Republicans are continuing to see Virginia slip further out of reach. Republicans have not won a presidential election since 2004 or a statewide election since 2009, despite tantalizingly close elections in 2013 and 2014. A lack of attention and money from national Republican organizations mean Virginia is looking more like Maryland or Connecticut every day.

Keep checking for more analysis of all the 2019 elections.

Photo via Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 2.0

Thomas Valentine

Thomas Valentine is a columnist for

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