FRANKFORT, Ky.–Matt Bevin has been elected governor of Kentucky.
The Republican, who hails from Connecticut, defeated Democrat Jack Conway to become only the second Republican governor in the state in four decades.
Independent Drew Curtis was a distant third in Tuesday’s election.
Bevin owns Bevin Brothers Manufacturing Co., a bell manufacturer located in East Hampton, Connecticut. The factory burned down Memorial Day Weekend 2012 after a lightning strike caused a major fire
Republicans have dominated federal elections in Kentucky, but moderate Democrats have maintained control of state government. Bevin’s election gives Republicans control of the executive branch along with a commanding majority in the state Senate. Democrats still have an eight-seat majority in the state House of Representatives.
Focus will almost immediately shift to the state House elections in 2016, where U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell has vowed to flex his powerful fundraising muscle to help Republicans to take over the only Southern state legislative body controlled by Democrats.
Bevin first ran for Senate in 2014, but lost the primary to the then-Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. McConnell is now the Senate majority leader.
When running, McConnell’s camp released an advertisement attacking Bevin for taxes his bell company had owed to the town of East Hampton in recent years. A 33-second television commercial branded Bevin as “Bailout Bevin” because the bell company had received $200,000 from the state of Connecticut to rebuild after the fire. The ad calls calls that state aid a “taxpayer bailout.”
It also attacked Bevin for the company’s failure to pay local taxes and citeed a 2011 article from the Middletown Press that identified Bevin Brothers Manufacturing Co. as the biggest tax delinquent in East Hampton.
Internet ads that ran dubbed Bevin as an “East Coast con man” because of the company’s tax problems.
But Bevin appears to have paid off the outstanding amounts before jumping he jumped into the Senate race. Town records available online show that the company doesn’t have any outstanding taxes going back to 2010. And Collector of Revenue Nancy Hasselman confirmed at the time the ad was released that the company doesn’t owe the town any money from previous years.
Bevin’s Senate campaign website said he became president of the bell company when it was “besieged by high taxes and foreign competition.” It says he paid off the company’s taxes and “modernized the company’s business model” to save it from potential bankruptcy.