Maps show Beshear won half of state house. What does this mean?
Published 2:55 pm Friday, November 17, 2023
If you overlay the election results on a map of Kentucky’s state house, Gov. Andy Beshear would have won half the seats – 50 out of 100.
Currently, Democrats hold 19 of those seats.
The Kentucky State Senate is a similar story. Beshear won 18 of 38 seats. Democrats hold seven of those.
The discrepancy has caught the attention of Kentucky political watchers. They wondered aloud on social media whether the Kentucky Democratic Party should make note of these results in their funding and recruitment efforts in areas Beshear won.
In addition to the typically Democratic urban areas like Louisville and Lexington, Beshear captured a broad swath of eastern Kentucky.
Rep. Cherlynn Stevenson, D-Lexington, said that she wasn’t surprised by Beshear’s win.
She represents a red district, she said, and knocks on a lot of Republican doors.
“I was getting so much positive feedback on his leadership through the pandemic, through the tornado disaster, the eastern Kentucky flood disaster – people were just really impressed with him and his leadership,” Stevenson said.
Stevenson originally hails from Knott County, where Beshear won by a few hundred votes and nearly nine percentage points. She said she feels like she has a pulse on what’s going on there still.
She credits Beshear’s wins in eastern Kentucky to his leadership during the pandemic and natural disasters, the fact that he won some eastern Kentucky counties in 2019, the long-awaited expansion of the Mountain Parkway and the salience of public education issues during the campaign.
Stevenson said she thinks that will carry over to next year’s election, which will include many state House and Senate seats.
“It is not someplace that we are ready to give up on,” she said.
“… We’ve heard the Republicans talk a lot about potentially having a constitutional amendment on the ballot next year about public schools. Public schools are the largest employer in a lot of those counties, and the public schools play such an important role in the community.”
Beshear’s win doesn’t hold much weight for state House and Senate elections, said Sean Southard, Republican Party of Kentucky spokesperson.
He said Democrats have been frustrated for years by an inability to build a strong group of down-ballot candidates.
“I don’t think that that’s going to change in 2024,” he said. “I mean, we’ve got congressional races on the ballot, we’ve got a presidential election that’s going to provide additional energy, and I think that we’re going to see Republicans continue to do well.”
In 2022, the Republican Party recruited high-quality candidates and raised “serious dollars” to support them and a field operation to get voters out, and consequently made inroads around Louisville and other areas, Southard said.
They expect to be competitive again in 2024, in even more areas of the state.
The Kentucky Democratic Party didn’t recruit candidates for some seats.
“I think that their brand is so toxic in these races that they’re not going to be able to recruit serious, well-qualified candidates that represent the values of these House districts,” Southard said.
Beshear credited his win to a rejection of “anger politics.”
He said that future elections will depend on the quality of candidates, as opposed to their party affiliation.
“I think that means moving forward that voters are going to be more open in elections to looking at the ideas of individual candidates,” he said at his weekly press conference.
“We get caught up a lot in parties. Every campaign is driven by a candidate, their personal ideology. They will be a part of a party and share certain views with maybe the state or national platform, for that, but every individual is different.”
Beshear added that the presidential candidates on the ballot in 2024 could change things, though.
“That’s obviously going to have major impacts because that nationalizes what should be community-level campaigns,” he said.