U.S. voters handed President Donald Trump mixed results in Tuesday’s scattered elections.
His Republican allies won a governor’s race in Mississippi, trailed in another close contest in Kentucky and lost political control of the Virginia state legislature to Democrats for the first time in 25 years.
Trump campaigned last week for Mississippi Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves, a staunch supporter, ahead of Reeves’ victory over the state’s Democratic attorney general, Jim Hood. But another Trump favorite, Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin, narrowly trailed Democrat Andy Beshear, also a state attorney general, even though Trump campaigned for Bevin at a raucous election eve rally.
In the mid-Atlantic state of Virginia, Trump, via Twitter, urged voters to keep Republicans in control of the state General Assembly. But Democrats, with Gov. Ralph Northam in office for another two years, picked up enough seats to take control of both the state Senate and the House of Delegates, to give the party its first complete control of the state government since the mid-1990s.
The results could signal trouble for Trump ahead of his 2020 re-election bid. While he was not on Tuesday’s ballots, his policies and three-year performance in the White House effectively were.
While his favored candidate won in the Republican stronghold of Mississippi in the southern part of the country, Bevin trailed Beshear by 5,150 votes out of more than 1.4 million votes counted in Kentucky, a state Trump won in the 2016 national election by 30 percentage points.
Bevin refused to concede on Wednesday, saying, “This is a close, close race. We are not conceding this race by any stretch.” The Associated Press said the race was too close to call, but Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes said, “We have called it for Attorney General Beshear to be the Kentucky governor-elect.”
Beshear claimed victory, telling reporters, “This outcome isn’t going to change. It’s over. I’m done with running for office. It’s now time to govern.”
In Virginia, the change in political power gives Democrats a chance to enact wide changes that have been blocked in recent years by Republican lawmakers, including a higher minimum wage, new protections for abortion rights and stricter gun control laws.
A year before Trump himself is on the ballot for re-election against a Democratic opponent that won’t be picked for months yet, the president promoted himself Tuesday night as having had an effect on both gubernatorial races.
Trump said his Monday rally in Kentucky had a “massive impact” on all of the races in the state, as Republicans running for offices other than governor did well.
“The increase in Governors race was at least 15 points, and maybe 20!” Trump tweeted, although most polling ahead of the election showed Bevin and Beshear running about even or one slightly ahead of the other.
For the Mississippi race, Trump wrote, “Great going Tate!” as the president shared a tweet from Ronna McDaniel, the chair of the Republican National Committee. It also claimed an unsubstantiated “double-digit” boost after the president held his rally even though polls showed a much closer contest with some even favoring the Republican Reeves.
Trump returns to campaigning Wednesday in the southern state of Louisiana, where Republican Eddie Rispone is trying to unseat incumbent Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards in a runoff election Nov. 16.
The November 2020 election will give voters the opportunity to choose the U.S. president, 35 of the 100 seats in the Senate, and all 435 members of the House of Representatives.