In Kentucky, an outsider Republican who has been likened to leading presidential candidate Donald Trump, won the hotly contested gubernatorial race on November 3. Millionaire Matt Bevin defeated a Democrat, Attorney General Jack Conway, by a decisive 52.5 percent to 44 percent, with 99 percent of voting precincts reporting. The election has been called for Bevin. A political newcomer, Bevin was defeated in a 2014 primary challenge by Sen. Mitch McConnell. He self-funded his campaign and travelled the Blue Grass State in his gold Cadillac Escalade, touting himself as a man who cannot be bought.
 
Bevin told the Washington Post, “I have no favors to pay back. There’s not one person in this state who believes they are going to have a job in my administration. . . . There’s not one person who I’ve promised anything to.” Speaking at a diner, Bevin said also, “Donald Trump is an interesting fellow. . . . Part of what people appreciate about him is the very same thing. He doesn’t owe anybody anything.”
 
Republicans appeared to tie Conway to the national Democratic Party and President Obama. Kentucky is heavily for the GOP for federal elections, even while Democrat Gov. Steve Beshear had won two elections in recent years.
 
The political football in Kentucky was the Medicaid expansion under Obamacare, a.k.a. the Affordable Care Act. On the campaign trail, Bevin said that he would have rejected federal funds, which Republican governors have done. However, polls indicate this remains unpopular with voters. Democrats thus took him to task, with the hope of beating him.
 
Democrat Conway gained national attention when he ran unsuccessfully against now-Senator Rand Paul (R) in 2010. Some analysts saw him as a favorite. In a statement, Democratic Governors Association exec Elizabeth Pearson declared, “Unfortunately, [Conway] ran into the unexpected head winds of Trump-mania, losing to an outsider candidate in the Year of the Outsider.”
 
Governor-elect Bevin's running mate, Jenean Hampton, a Republican, will be the first African-American lieutenant governor of Kentucky. That is not her only distinction: she is a Tea Party favorite, too. She is one of very few black women who identify with the movement. 
 
Elsewhere, Republicans had victories. In Mississippi, for instance, Gov. Phil Bryant (R) beat Democrat Robert Gray. 
 
The results in Kentucky and Mississippi means that Republicans will keep at least 31 governor’s chairs throughout the Union. Democrats have 17, while Alaska has an Independent.
 
Republicans might still win in Louisiana, where former Republican Sen. David Vitter will face a November 21 runoff against Democrat John Bel Edwards. Louisiana is generally considered a Red State. 
 
Elsewhere in the South, the Virginia state Senate remained under Republican tutelage, thus denying Democrat Gov. Terry McAuliffe a friendly base for his progressive initiatives. 
 
In Houston TX, voters came out against a contentious LGBT nondiscrimination law that would have allowed individuals with gender-identity issues to use restrooms designated for the opposite sex.
 
And in Ohio, voters came out squarely against legalizing marijuana.

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Spero News editor Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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