President Donald Trump traveled to Kentucky Monday night to rally support for Republican Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin, who is trying to win a second term in office on Tuesday. Democrats and the impeachment inquiry occupied some of Trump’s speech. (Nov. 5)
WASHINGTON — Election Day Tuesday features key governor’s races in Kentucky and Mississippi, where Republicans are trying to hold onto the governor’s mansion, and a state legislative contest in Virginia that could flip the statehouse from Republican to Democrat for the first time in a generation.
The races could provide a sense of voter attitudes heading into the 2020 elections.
In Kentucky, Republican Gov. Matt Bevin is running for a second term in a tight race with Democrat Attorney General Andy Beshear. And in Mississippi, State Attorney General Jim Hood, the only Democrat holding a statewide office, is running against GOP Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves for the open gubernatorial seat.
USA TODAY will be providing live updates on developments as they happen.
9:06 p.m. ET
Virginia Democrats poised to retake Senate
Democrats had won or were winning 22 of the 40 Virginia state Senate races, according to the state election site.
One of those winners is John J. Bell who beat Republican Geary M. Higgins in a fight to represent a key Washington, D.C., suburb of Loudoun and Prince William counties.
Bell’s win has helped Virginia Democrats gain control of the upper chamber in a state that is increasingly blue.
8:50 p.m. ET
Website issue slows Virginia results
There was already plenty of drama surrounding the Virginia state legislative races before the state encountered trouble posting live results on its website.
The Virginia Department of Elections tweeted that it was aware of the problem “and are working to fix it.”
Democrats are expected to retake both the House and the Senate in time for congressional redistricting.
8:30 p.m. ET
Bevin earlier says media shouldn’t ‘seem shocked’ over ‘competitive race’
Earlier Tuesday, Bevin tried to downplay a possible loss by slamming “historically challenged” national media outlets for being “shocked” over the tightness of the Kentucky gubernatorial election.
Using Twitter to tag mainstream media outlets such as CNN and NBC News, the governor said Kentucky has “far more” registered Democrats than Republicans and that he is only the fourth Republican governor elected in Kentucky since the 1920s.
“Never in history has Kentucky elected a Republican Governor to a consecutive term or to follow another Republican Gov…” Bevin wrote in a tweet on Tuesday afternoon. “The reason we will make history and win re-election tonight is not because we are a ‘red state’, because we have always been a ‘blue state’ by registration…”
More: Follow results from the Kentucky elections.
8:05 p.m. ET
Polls close in Mississippi where GOP expected to keep governor’s mansion
The polls have closed in Mississippi and Reeves is the favorite to win the election over Hood in ruby-red Mississippi, though analysts say it won’t be a cakewalk.
But even if Reeves wins the popular vote he might not be elected governor, according to the Jackson Clarion Ledger.
Under state law, statewide candidates must clear two hurdles to win office: a majority of the popular vote and a majority of the state’s 122 House districts.
If a candidate can’t clear both, the race is decided by the House. A federal judge last week declined to block the law after it was challenged in court.
The good news for Reeves: the Mississippi House is controlled by Republicans.
7:25 p.m. ET
Early results show Beshear outperforming 2015 Democrat
Polls have now closed in all of Kentucky, including Louisville’s delayed precincts and Western Kentucky, which is an hour behind Louisville.
Voting has ended in Virginia as well. (Mississippi polls close at 8 p.m.).
Preliminary results have started trickling in and suggest Beshear is outperforming Democrat Jack Conway, who ran against Bevin in 2015 and lost by around 100,000 votes, according to the Louisville Courier Journal.
With that, #ByeByeBevin started trending in Kentucky and across the U.S.
6 p.m. ET
Trump rallied Monday to boost Bevin in Kentucky
At a rally Monday in Lexington, Kentucky, President Donald Trump said a loss by Bevin would send “a really bad message.”
Bevin is the best example of a Trump proxy on the ballot today.
Besides sharing Trump’s pugilistic style, Bevin has also tied himself closely to Trump. But the governor’s unpopularity in the state has made the race a toss-up. A Mason-Dixon poll released Oct. 16 showed the race tied at 46% apiece.
Polls will close at 8 p.m. EST in Mississippi, where Hood is running against Reeves for the open gubernatorial seat.
“I bait my own hook, carry my own gun and drive my own truck,” Hood boasts in an ad highlighting the culturally conservative persona that used to allow some Democrats to win Republican states.
Also on the ballot Tuesday are state legislative races in Mississippi, Louisiana, New Jersey and Virginia, where Democrats have a legitimate shot to wrest away power from the GOP for the first time in two decades.
There are also a bevy of municipal races across the country, including mayoral contests in Chicago, Denver and Houston.
Analysts caution not to read too much into the results given there are far fewer races than the mid-terms of 2018 where a blue wave propelled Democrats back into control of the U.S. House.
David Wasserman, a political handicapper with the non-partisan Cook Political Report, said it would be a “bad/terrible” night if Democrat lose both governor races and fail to capture the Virginia legislature, and a “weaker-than-expected” night if they lose both gubernatorial races and only capture a slim margin in the Virginia State House.
In Virginia, Democrats are trying to build on their huge gains in 2017 when they came tantalizingly close to winning the legislature in a state that has become increasingly blue.
Most of the major Democratic presidential candidates have traveled to Virginia to keep the momentum going. Republicans, however, sent Vice President Mike Pence – and not Trump – across the river for a pre-election push.
Contributing: Maureen Groppe
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