Comer requests recanvass, outcome will be May 28

Published: May. 21, 2015 at 3:36 AM EDT|Updated: Jul. 5, 2015 at 3:50 AM EDT
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Matt Bevin (Source: WAVE 3 News)
Matt Bevin (Source: WAVE 3 News)
James Comer (Source: WAVE 3 News)
James Comer (Source: WAVE 3 News)

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Republican candidate for governor James Comer, trailing rival Matt Bevin by 83 votes, requested a "full and complete" recanvass of Tuesday's election results.

Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes said county boards of election would meet at 9 a.m. May 28 to check reported vote totals against the tallies on voting machines. They will then report back to the state whether the numbers have changed.

Bevin, in an interview from his Middletown campaign headquarters, said he agreed with Comer's request but expected it to confirm him as the winner. Bevin and Comer both received 32.9 percent of the vote in a nasty primary that included allegations of domestic abuse against Comer.

[RELATED STORY: Bevin leads by 83 votes, Comer to ask for recanvass]

"As excited as our people were on our side, how disappointed must his people be on his side?" Bevin said. "You almost owe it to people (to request a recanvass)."

Bevin said he and Comer sent text messages back and forth on Election Night, agreeing to respect each other through the process.

Comer has said he would throw his support behind Bevin if the recanvass didn't change the vote totals. Yet he left open the possibility of filing for a costly, time-consuming recount.

"If we start gaining votes, then we may do a full-fledged recount," Comer told reporters Tuesday night. "If it doesn't change anything, then I will gladly concede to Matt Bevin."

Bill Stone, the former Jefferson County Republican Party chairman, said Comer should ask for a recount if the margin remains close after a recanvass.

"I would take every opportunity to establish the validity of that number," Stone said. "I think we have plenty of time (to unite). If we get this done by July 4, it gives us several months to get our message out."

Comer would have to file in Franklin County Circuit Court by May 29 to begin a recount. Unlike a recanvass, candidates must pay for the costs of a recount, which could be hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Edwin King, a Comer spokesman, did not return two phone calls Wednesday seeking comment about the process.

If the results hold, it almost guarantees the next governor will be from Louisville. Attorney General Jack Conway easily advanced in the Democratic primary.

Kentucky has never had a governor from inside Louisville's city limits. Lawrence Wetherby, who served in the 1950s, is the only previous governor from Jefferson County.

Democrats view Bevin as the weakest of the Republican contenders, behind Comer and Hal Heiner, who finished third in the primary. Yet another Tea Party-supported candidate, U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, was the underdog before beating Conway in 2010.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, whom Bevin refused to publicly endorse after losing to him in last year's U.S. Senate primary, looms large.

McConnell will endorse the GOP nominee "once it's official," said Robert Steurer, a McConnell spokesman.

Given their recent battles, it remains unclear whether McConnell will go beyond an endorsement, or stop there.

"That would be crazy," Bevin said. "Why would you stay out of it? Because someone ran against you in a primary? Primaries are good. Look at this one -- this has been good for our party."

Bevin said he had received dozens of phone calls and text messages after the results came in Tuesday night. He said he'd begun reaching out to key Republicans, including what he described as a "terrific conversation" with state Senate President Robert Stivers.

Stone said Bevin will need to work hard to convince many Republicans to wholeheartedly support him in the fall.

"We all want to elect a Republican governor, but I do believe Matt Bevin has a harder hill to climb because of his conduct in the general election last year for U.S. Senate."

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