Republican Matt Bevin concedes to Democrat Andy Beshear, ending bitter governor race

Andy Beshear and GOP Gov. Matt Bevin were locked in a tight contest.

A week after Kentucky's gubernatorial contest ended with GOP incumbent Gov. Matt Bevin trailing Democrat Andy Beshear, the Republican conceded to the state's attorney general Thursday from the governor's office in the Kentucky State Capitol.

"I'm not even sure [the recanvass] is entirely done but it's largely done and what we're seeing is about what we had expected," Bevin told reporters before the recanvassing of vote totals was complete. "It's still going to be the same end result ... we’re going to have a change in the governorship based on the vote of the people and what I want is to see the absolute best for Kentucky. I'm not going to contest."

Bevin said he hopes for Beshear's success as he takes the reins from the governor's mansion and urged there would be a "smooth transition."

"I truly want the best for Andy Beshear as he moves forward," he said. "I genuinely want him to be successful. I want this state to be successful. I want this state to rise, continuing on the trajectory that it is above and beyond every stereotype."

Shortly after Bevin's press conference, Secretary of State Alison Grimes confirmed the recanvass across the state's 120 counties did not change the outcome of the election.

Bevin requested the secretary of state's office recanvass the vote totals last week, two days after Tuesday's bitter contest ended with the Associated Press announcing that the race was too close to call.

Ahead of the repeat tallying of vote totals, Bevin's campaign pushed claims that there were "irregularities" in the election, before adding that they are being "looked into."

"The people of Kentucky deserve a fair and honest election. With reports of irregularities, we are exercising the right to ensure that every lawful vote was counted," Paine said in a statement, accompanied by a letter requesting the recanvass.

Bevin later detailed those "irregularities" at a press conference last Wednesday from the governor's mansion as, "thousands of absentee ballots that were illegally counted," "reports of people having been turned away incorrectly" from voting booths and voting machines "that did not work properly" in Jefferson County.

"The reason we're doing this is we want the people of Kentucky to have absolute confidence that their votes were counted as they should've been counted, that the law was followed," he said. "It applies to this race and to more than simply this race or simply to Kentucky. This is critical. ... This is an American issue."

ABC News reached out to the secretary of state's office about Bevin's claims, but did not receive a response.

Grimes responded to the request on Twitter, announcing a recanvass would be conducted Nov. 14 at 9 a.m.

In response to the request for a recanvass, Beshear's campaign manager Eric Hyers said, "Last night, the people of Kentucky elected Andy Beshear as their next governor. Today, Gov.-Elect Beshear is already working on his transition so that he can best serve the people of Kentucky on day one. We hope that Matt Bevin honors the results of the recanvass, which will show he received fewer votes than Andy Beshear. As has been reported, a 'recanvassing has never changed the result of a Kentucky election.'"

Before the closely watched governor's race ended with Bevin's concession, Beshear declared victory last week before supporters in Louisville, "Last night the election ended. It ended and it's time to move forward with a smooth transition that we are here to do so that we can do the people's business."

The margin was about 5,000 votes out of over 1.4 million cast with 100% of precincts reporting.

Beshear told reporters that he had not spoken with Bevin and did not know "what information he's working off of" when the incumbent governor claimed irregularities interfered with the election.

"We're confident in the outcome of the election but today is about moving forward," he said. "The election is over. No one else is going to cast a vote. It ended last night. … I'm done with running for office it's now time to govern."

"We're going to move forward. Whatever process that the governor chooses to go down, it's not going to change this overall number of votes," Beshear said. "We are going to take the steps to move forward to make sure that we are ready, that we are ready on the day that we're inaugurated, that we are ready for that first session, that we are ready with that first budget, and that we are ready to take those steps that we have promised in week one, that include rescinding that Medicaid waiver, and saving health care for 95,000 Kentuckians."

To fulfill the recanvass request, the county elections board rechecked each machine and reported the totals back to the county clerk. State law allows for a representative from both campaigns to be present for the recanvassing process. The individual ballots themselves were not recounted in this procedure.

The show of force from Trump and other top Republicans came as both sides navigate the politics of impeachment, which has become a dividing line in the statewide race.

Bevin, an anti-establishment Republican, sought to use the looming House impeachment investigation, and the potential backlash against Congress, to stave off his Democratic challenger. He told the crowd at his election night party in Louisville that he was not conceding the race.

"We want the process to be followed," he said Tuesday night. "This isn’t a political issue, it’s an integrity issue."

Bevin focused his campaign on aligning himself with the president and tried to tie his opponent to the House impeachment inquiry to shore up the GOP's base. At the rally Monday night, Bevin made the race all about national politics -- signaling that a vote for Beshear was a vote for socialism, impeachment and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

"Are we going to allow evil to prevail in this country? Are we going to allow socialism to creep into our country? Are we going to allow people like Nancy Pelosi and 'the squad' impeach this president? ... Will we stand up against these things?" he asked the crowd, which responded with a resounding "yes."

The Trump campaign attempted to mitigate some of the disappointment late Tuesday.

"The President just about dragged Gov. Matt Bevin across the finish line, helping him run stronger than expected in what turned into a very close race at the end," said Brad Parscale, Trump 2020 campaign manager, in a statement. "A final outcome remains to be seen."

Despite the efforts to nationalize the race, Beshear, for his part, trained his focus on Kentucky, particularly, prioritizing education and health care -- two local issues that have frequently put Bevin at odds with teachers in the state -- over walkouts -- and the courts -- over his cuts to the elder Beshear’s Medicaid expansion.

The state has a storied history of electing governors from both parties -- and Beshear's father, Steve Beshear, preceded Bevin and served for two terms.

The contest, a test of Trump's support among Republicans, is also seen as a curtain raiser to Senate Majority Mitch McConnell's own reelection in 2020.

The Kentucky secretary of state told CNN Tuesday night before the AP decided the race was too close to call, "At this point, we have, with over 99% of the vote in, the margin is still within about 10,000 votes, and here in the commonwealth have called it for Attorney General Beshear to be the Kentucky governor-elect for the commonwealth."

"We will have a second governor Beshear here in the commonwealth come 2020," she continued. "Obviously there are still options available for recounts to be requested should Bevin want to do that. At this point based on the results that we are seeing coming in, especially not only from Fayette County but from Jefferson County as well, the lead is substantial enough that we believe unlikely to be able to be made up by Gov. Bevin."

Virginia makes historic shift in state House and Senate

In Virginia, the only southern state Trump lost in 2016, Democrats secured a long-awaited victory by capturing control of both the Virginia House of Delegates and state Senate.

Despite the president stopping in Kentucky and Mississippi to rally Republicans ahead of Election Day, he never campaigned in the commonwealth, a state that has been trending blue in recent years.

Democrats made significant gains in 2017 -- winning 15 Republican-held seats in the state House, their largest gains since 1899 -- putting control of the legislature in play for the first time in years. Democrats' success was partly delivered in the suburbs, where a number of female candidates overtook Republican districts. Now, the suburban swing districts are seen as some of the most competitive parts of the state.

Virginia Democrats sought to bolster their party’s alliances on Tuesday to capture control of the general assembly -- buttressed by unprecedented amounts of outside money flowing into the contests -- to set the course to deliver a blue-tinted battleground in 2020.

Democrats now have full control of the state government for the first time in 25 years and as the majority party, they will have control over redistricting following the 2020 census, potentially impacting future elections in the state.

Some of the key victories of the night came when House Del. John Bell, a Democrat, defeated his Republican opponent, Geary Higgins, in Senate District 13, which encompasses parts of Loudoun and Prince William counties, and when Democrat Ghazala Hashmi, who will be the first Muslim American woman to serve in the state Senate, toppled the Republican incumbent in Senate District 10. In House District 94, Democrat Shelly Simonds secured an outright victory over Republican House Del. David Yancey in a rematch after their contest was decided by pulling a name out of a ceramic bowl in 2017.

ABC News' Meg Cunningham contributed to this report.

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