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Kentucky Election Headed for Recount   05/29 06:15

   Matt Bevin claimed the Republican nomination for governor with the help of a 
clunky fax machine in a crowded corner office of the state Capitol. But his 
opponent, James Comer, quickly moved to block him with an email from Florida.

   FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) -- Matt Bevin claimed the Republican nomination for 
governor with the help of a clunky fax machine in a crowded corner office of 
the state Capitol. But his opponent, James Comer, quickly moved to block him 
with an email from Florida.

   Kentucky election officials reviewed results from the state's 120 counties 
via fax Thursday, confirming Bevin leads Comer by 83 votes in one of the 
closest elections in state history. But Comer, while vacationing in Florida, 
did not concede and in an email to reporters said he would announce his next 
steps Friday.

   The next step available to Comer, aside from conceding, is asking a judge 
for a statewide recount. It's risky because he did not gain a single vote from 
Thursday's recanvassing, which involves reviewing vote totals from absentee 
ballots and machines. A recount would examine every individual ballot, and in 
Kentucky most of them are paper.

   "There have been no substantial changes after a review of the totals on the 
machines that would indicate a manual recount could possibly change the vote 
totals," Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes said.

   But historically, recounts are more likely to change election results than 
recanvasses, said University of Kentucky law professor Joshua Douglas.

   "It's a much more intensive process. ... It will take several weeks, 
probably," Douglas said. "You are actually physically recounting all the 
ballots."

   The last major recount in Kentucky was in 1994, when former Democratic U.S. 
Rep. Mike Ward defeated Susan Stokes by about 500 votes.

   Bevin declined to speak to a reporter at his campaign headquarters in 
Middletown on Thursday, but a spokesman said he plans to hold a news conference 
Friday. In a news release, Bevin declared victory, saying "it is an honor to be 
the Republican nominee."

   "I have tremendous respect for Commissioner Comer and am glad that we went 
through the recanvass process so that the integrity of our election was 
validated," Bevin said.

   If the results hold, it would resurrect Bevin's political career, which once 
appeared doomed after losing to U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell in last year's 
primary. While Comer and Hal Heiner scooped up endorsements and TV time, Bevin 
waited until the last day to file for the race and start another campaign that 
seemed destined to become another footnote in Republican politics.

   But with few endorsements, more than $1 million of his own money and a 
mostly volunteer staff, Bevin attacked the county Lincoln Day dinner circuit 
that mostly shunned him last year and found a niche for himself as an 
alternative to the mudslinging that enveloped the candidacies of Comer and 
Heiner in the campaign's final days.

   Bevin will now set his sights on Democratic nominee Jack Conway, a two-time 
statewide election winner as Kentucky's attorney general who stockpiled more 
than $1 million in campaign donations during a primary of minimal opposition. 
Bevin, meanwhile, mostly self-financed his race with money earned from his 
career as an investment banker.

   Assuming Bevin is certified as the winner, he and Conway will face off in a 
rare off-year election in which Republicans see an opportunity to retake state 
government after making gains in the Legislature last year due in part to 
Democratic President Barack Obama's unpopularity here.

   First, Bevin will have to rally the party following a divisive primary. The 
state's leading elected officials have embraced him, and McConnell has vowed to 
endorse him. But Bevin still has to prove he can win over Republican donors 
that have mostly avoided him.

   "If I were Matt Bevin and his campaign, I'd be calling as many of those 
(donors) as I can right now," veteran Republican strategist Scott Jennings 
said. "He's run two elections in Kentucky and in neither case did he have much 
success raising money from donors in the state."


(KA)


 
 
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