Online Poker Supporter Wins Kentucky Governor Spot
Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear won a hard-fought election this week for the governorship of the Commonwealth of Kentucky.
As a supporter of gambling expansion in his state, Beshear has vowed to continue pushing lawmakers to legalize casinos, sports betting, fantasy sports, and online poker. With his victory in the November 5 election, it means that these issues not only remain on the table but become priorities for the governor of Kentucky moving forward.
Beshear won’t take office until December, but he will need to settle in before pushing legislation.
State lawmakers are mostly done with proposals and bills in the final 2019 session anyway, so it is likely that gambling expansion won’t be addressed until the new year.
But if Beshear’s campaign promises were sincere, it will be a priority in 2020.
The race for the governor’s seat was going to be close. Beshear was a Democrat with a strong following as Kentucky’s Attorney General and a fondness carried over from his father’s time in office as Governor Steve Beshear. And Andy Beshear had carved out a position as a moderate Democrat.
Incumbent Governor Matt Bevin had been a staunch Republican but also a controversial one. By most accounts, he was mean-spirited, angry, spiteful, and vengeful to anyone who dared cross or oppose him. He berated teachers, sued Medicare recipients, and was the subject of several ethics investigations.
When the votes were counted and all precincts reported, the numbers were:
Democrat Andy Beshear = 709,846 votes (49.2%)
Republican Matt Bevin = 704,760 votes (48.8%)
Libertarian John Hicks = 28,442 votes (2%)
Thank you, Kentucky! pic.twitter.com/mmMb7ekyK5
— Andy Beshear (@AndyBeshearKY) November 6, 2019
But that was not the end of the story.
Bevin refused to concede. In fact, on November 6, he officially called for a recanvass of vote totals.
“The people of Kentucky deserve a fair and honest election,” Bevin’s statement read. “With reports of irregularities, we are exercising the right to ensure that every lawful vote was counted.” As for the irregularities, Bevin alleged that absentee ballots were not counted property and people were turned away from polling sites.
Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes will give the recanvass request to the State Board of Elections. Should that recanvass take place, it will happen on Thursday, November 14.
For now, Grimes did call the race for Beshear, but Bevin will not concede.
Campaign Promises to Keep
One of the major issues that Beshear discussed during his campaign was gambling expansion.
Beshear touted the lack of casinos and sports betting in Kentucky as a boon for other states, as Kentuckians crossed over into neighboring states to spend their dollars. Not only did he want the money to stay in Kentucky, he felt that casinos and more gambling options would attract more tourists.
There was a much bigger goal for Beshear, though.
An ever-growing public pension funding gap was out of control. It was the highest of any of the 50 states, hitting $64.9 billion in 2017. Moreover, the pensions of Kentucky teachers and first responders were in jeopardy, Beshear wants the revenue from expanded gambling to plug that gap.
Beshear estimated that $1 billion in Kentuckians’ entertainment dollars went to other states. His proposals would put at least $500 million of revenue each year into the pension fund and in other much-needed taxes for the state.
Bevin attacked Beshear’s ideas with strong words and wild accusations. He called the gambling proposal a “sucker’s bet” and “fool’s gold” and claimed that a person commits suicide somewhere in America “every night.”
Look for 2020 Action
According to the Kentucky Constitution, a new governor shall be sworn into office on the fifth Tuesday after he or she is elected. That puts the swearing-in date on December 10, 2019.
Look for legislation from some lawmakers, at the direction of Beshear, very early in 2020.