GOP Primary for Kentucky Governor Too Close to Call

by | May 21, 2015

By Sam Youngman and Jack Brammer

Republican James Comer asked Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes late Wednesday for "a full and complete check and recanvass" of Tuesday's vote in the GOP primary election for governor.

Unofficial results in the race showed Comer, the state's agriculture commissioner, trailing Louisville businessman Matt Bevin by 83 votes out of 214,187 cast.

Comer and his running mate, state Sen. Chris McDaniel, asked Grimes for a complete check of every voting machine and absentee ballots from all precincts in the state's 120 counties. Grimes immediately scheduled the recanvass for 9 a.m. May 28.

Comer told the Herald-Leader that he had heard from several counties about "issues that we need to examine." He said he had been in contact with Bevin on Wednesday, and there were no hard feelings about pressing ahead with the recanvass. "He told me last night he would have done the same thing," Comer said.

In a recanvass, printed vote totals are checked against figures sent to the state Board of Elections. No individual votes are recounted.

Each county elections board across the state will conduct its own recanvass of votes cast and report any changes to the secretary of state's office.

Grimes' office said that since January 2011, there have been five recanvass requests. The outcome changed in none of those races.

The last statewide recanvass was that same year in the Republican primary for secretary of state between Bill Johnson and Hilda Legg. The recanvass found six votes in favor of Legg but didn't change the outcome.

If Comer thinks there is an error or problem with the vote totals after the recanvass, he can petition Franklin Circuit Court for a recount, a more in-depth process that involves recounting individual paper ballots and rechecking the tallies on electronic voting machines. Comer's campaign would have to pay for the recount.

Senate President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, said that a recount could be time-consuming and that he hopes Republicans will be able to show unity at the state Lincoln Day Dinner on May 30 in Lexington.

Stivers declined to say whom he voted for in Tuesday's election.

Earlier Wednesday, an aide to U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the senator plans to endorse the Republican nominee for Kentucky governor, but he's waiting to see who wins before making a statement.

"Once it's official, Senator McConnell plans to endorse the GOP nominee," McConnell spokesman Robert Steurer said in a statement to the Herald-Leader.

Bevin refused to endorse McConnell after losing to the senator in last year's Republican U.S. Senate primary.

(c)2015 the Lexington Herald-Leader (Lexington, Ky.)