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Republican Matt Bevin Wins Kentucky Governorship; Health Care Was Major Campaign Issue

The Republican candidate opposed Medicaid expansion. The GOP also won the governor's race in Mississippi and maintained control of the Virginia Senate.

The New York Times: Matt Bevin, Republican, Wins Governor’s Race In Kentucky
Heading into Election Day, Republicans fretted that Mr. Bevin was frittering away an opportunity. But Bill Stone, a former chairman of the Republican Party in Jefferson County, which includes Louisville, said many analysts had underestimated “how reviled” Mr. Obama and the Democrats are in Kentucky. Mr. Obama’s health care law was an especially contentious issue in the race, and some see the Bevin victory as a rebuke to Gov. Steve Beshear, a Democrat, who expanded Medicaid under the measure. An estimated 420,000 Kentuckians, nearly 10 percent of the state’s population, now have coverage as a result. Mr. Bevin, a fierce opponent of the health care law, at first said he would reverse it, but has since softened his position and said he would stop enrolling new people but would not take coverage from those who had it. (Stolberg and Binder, 11/3)

The Washington Post: Businessman Who Campaigned As Outsider Wins Kentucky Governor's Race
Republicans made every effort to nationalize the race, tying Conway to the national Democratic Party and, more specifically, to President Obama. The state is heavily Republican at the federal level, but Gov. Steve Beshear (D) has won two elections in recent years and enjoyed relatively strong approval ratings. Also at issue was the Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. Bevin said that he would have rejected the federal funds, which many GOP governors have done but which polls show is an unpopular stance. Democrats pilloried him for it, hoping it would be their ticket to victory. (Blake, 11/3)

Reuters: Republicans Win Kentucky Governor's Race, Second Time In 44 Years
Bevin, who rode Tea Party support to a narrow victory in a four-way Republican primary, defeated State Attorney General Jack Conway, who quickly conceded on Tuesday night after his late October lead in the polls evaporated on election day. ... Bevin had pledged to roll back the expansion of Medicaid to provide health coverage to the poor under Obama's health plan as started by the current governor, which Conway had supported. (11/3)

The Wall Street Journal: Republican Matt Bevin Wins Kentucky Governor’s Race
The race between Mr. Bevin, a 48-year-old businessman, and Democrat Jack Conway, the 46-year-old state attorney general, was the most high-profile of three gubernatorial contests this year. ... His win also suggests that arguments against the health law, also known as Obamacare, remain a potent line of attack, analysts say. Elsewhere, Republican Gov. Phil Bryant of Mississippi easily won re-election against Democrat Robert Gray, a little-known truck driver. The third gubernatorial race, in Louisiana, between Republican U.S. Sen. David Vitter and Democratic state Rep. John Bel Edwards, will be decided in a runoff on Nov. 21, after the two garnered the most votes in a first round of balloting last month. (Campo-Flores, 11/3)

Politico: Republican Bevin Wins Kentucky Governor's Race
The general election was ugly, with both candidates repeatedly impugning the other’s integrity and Conway repeatedly blitzing Bevin with negative ads branding the eventual victor as a hypocrite and a liar. Bevin was outspent for most of the contest and had his tactics consistently questioned by his fellow Republicans. But a late $2.5 million spending blitz from the Republican Governors Association helped Bevin close the gap in television advertising in the final weeks. (Robillard, 11/3)

The Washington Post: GOP Win In Kentucky Sets Up Unprecedented Affordable Care Act Fight
The disconnect between Obamacare and KYnect was one of the great paradoxes of American politics. In polls, Kentucky voters rejected Obamacare at roughly the rate they rejected the president, 2-1. But they were fond of KYnect, which Beshear created by executive order, bypassing a gridlocked Kentucky legislature. Month by month, Kentuckians took advantage of the state's Medicaid expansion or the plans offered on the exchange, and the state's uninsured rate plummeted from 20.4 percent to 9 percent. Beshear predicted that "the Democratic nominee will make this a major issue and will pound the Republicans into the dust with it.” On Tuesday night, it was the Democrats eating dust. (Weigel, 11/3)

Reuters: Republicans Win Governor's Races In Mississippi, Kentucky
Bevin, who rode Tea Party support to a narrow victory in a four-way Republican primary, soundly defeated State Attorney General Jack Conway, whose late October lead in the polls evaporated on election day. ... Bevin had pledged to roll back the expansion of Medicaid to provide health coverage to the poor under Obama's health plan as started by the current governor, which Conway had supported. (Bittenbender, 11/4)

The Washington Post: McAuliffe’s Hopes For Senate Majority Dashed
Republicans held onto the Virginia Senate in fiercely contested elections Tuesday, leaving Gov. Terry McAuliffe without legislative leverage or political momentum as he works to deliver Virginia for his friend and ally Hillary Rodham Clinton in 2016. ... "Having said that, he’s a person of remarkable resilience,” Holsworth added. “He’s not the kind of guy who gets depressed by some defeat. He’ll move on to some Plan B to carve out a legacy on economic development and some agreement with Republicans on education, while he knows he will not get the Medicaid expansion that he so wants.” (Vozzella and Portnoy, 11/3)

Richmond Times-Dispatch: Republicans Retain Control Of Virginia Senate In Blow To McAuliffe
Republicans retained their 21-19 majority in the Virginia Senate on Tuesday, prevailing in a more than $43 million off-year election battle with Democrats for control of the General Assembly. ... Over the past two years, Republicans have delighted in frustrating McAuliffe’s highest legislative priorities — tapping federal dollars to expand Medicaid and passing gun control measures. Despite Republican control, Democrats still wield considerable influence in Richmond through control of all three executive branch offices. (Nolan, 11/3)

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