Governor’s Elections In Mississippi, Kentucky At Top Of Mostly Quiet 2019 Election Day

It's mostly a quiet Election Day around the country, but there are some races for Governor worth watching.

Today is Election Day across the country and it’s mostly quiet since this is considered an off-off-year in which there are neither mid-term nor Presidential elections and only a handful of state elections of potential interests. That being said, there are several contests that could give us a clue as to where the nation might be headed in 2020.

Among those places where there are contests are Mississippi where voters will choose a successor to current Governor Phil Bryant, who is term-limited after serving eight years in office. In that race, Republican Tate Reeves, currently serving as Lt. Governor, is facing off against Democratic nominee Jim Hood, who is currently Mississippi Attorney General and one of the few Democrats who has been elected statewide. There has been some indication in the polling that Hood is doing better than a Democrat might be expected to do in a state that Donald Trump won by 17 percent of the vote in 2016, and some recent polling and speculation have suggested that this could be a close race. It was partly because of this speculation, no doubt, that the President chose to hold a rally in the state for Reed to pump up the base. In part because of this, and in part, because Mississippi has not elected a Democratic Governor since Ronnie Musgrove in 2000, I tend to think that Reed will win in the end and keep Mississippi firmly in the Republican column.

In addition to Mississippi, there is also a Governor’s race in Kentucky between current Governor Matt Bevin and Andy Beshear, who currently serves as Attorney General of Kentucky and is the son of popular former Governor Steve Beshear. The polling in this race has been all over the place, with many polls showing Beshear with a strong lead over Bevin, other polls showing the reverse, and still others showing a razor-thin race between the two. As he did in Mississippi last week, President Trump appeared in the state last night for a last-minute rally for Bevin, which seems like a rather obvious sign that Republicans are worried about the state both for what it means about control of the Governor’s mansion and what it could mean for 2020.

While President Trump won the Bluegrass State by 30 percent in 2016, Kentucky has traditionally been an oddity among typically red states. In Federal elections, such as races for President, where the state last went for a Democrat in 1996, and Senate elections, where voters last elected a Democrat in 1992, Kentucky voters tend to vote Republican. In statewide elections, though, the results have been far more mixed, with Democrats being about to win several statewide elections for positions in statewide elections for positions such as Secretary of State, Attorney General, and Governor consistently. Additionally, unlike many southern states it is still the case in Kentucky that there are more registered Democrats than registered Republicans, Given this and the fact that Bevin has had popularity problems throughout his first term, this race appears to be something of a toss-up.

If Beshear does manage to pull out a win in Kentucky it will, of course, bolster hopes that Democrats could somehow pull off wins in the one or more of the statewide Federal races next year. The obvious target is Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who is facing a challenge from likely Democratic nominee Amy McGrath, While there has been some polling that indicates that McConnell may be vulnerable, we’ve seen those numbers before and McConnell has always managed to pull off the win in the end. Given that he will be facing re-election in a Presidential election year where the Republican nominee is likely to easily win in 2020, I doubt that McConnell will be in trouble absent an atypical mistake on McConnell’s part.

In addition to these races, there are also a handful of other races of interest, New Jersey voters head to the polls for legislative elections that are likely to do much of anything to challenge Democratic control of the Senate and State Assembly. There will also be state legislative elections in Mississippi and Louisiana that are unlikely to change the Republican majority in those states. The one state that will be worth watching tonight will be Virginia, where Republicans hold on to razor-thin majorities in the State Senate and the House of Delegates and Democrats are hoping that the combined incompetence of the Republican Party of Virginia and the unpopularity of President Trump will be sufficient to give Democrats control of the Virginia legislature for the first time in nearly two decades. I’ll have a separate post about the Old Dominion up later this morning. Beyond that, it’s mostly a quiet day around the country unless you’ve got local races of interest.

FILED UNDER: 2019 Election, US Politics, , , , , , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Michael Cain says:

    My (currently) non-numeric geography-based prediction is that the Dems win the Virginia legislature, and the Repubs win the governors’ races in Kentucky, Louisiana, and Mississippi.

  2. MarkedMan says:

    Just to add to the entries for “Normal People Don’t Act This Way: Trump Edition”, according to Talking Points Memo when Trump was at a rally for Bevin yesterday in Kentucky he mostly talked about himself, as usual. But in his one brief mention of Bevin he said

    “We work together. Now he is difficult, I have to say. You know. Maybe it’ll cost him the election,” Trump said of Bevin. “He’s such a pain in the ass. But that’s what you want.”

  3. CSK says:

    @MarkedMan: What was Bevin’s reaction?

  4. mattbernius says:

    This is definitely a more quiet election from a national politics perspective. From a Criminal Justice Reform perspective — in particular Prosecutors — there’s a lot of interesting races going on in the North East.

  5. Jax says:

    If there is a God….please let Bevin lose!

  6. Teve says:

    Looks like Bevin lost. Deity figure still unaccounted for.

  7. Jax says:

    @Teve: LMAO!!!

  8. Jax says:

    I’d like to see what’s going on with McConnell’s team right now. Who’s running against him? Amy McGrath? I think anybody who puts country over party should donate what they can to voting out the mold that is Mitch McConnell out of office.