Matt Bevin is officially the Republican nominee for Kentucky governor.
Nearly two weeks after the May 19 primary election, state Agriculture Commissioner James Comer said Friday morning he had conceded. Comer had requested a review of the vote results due to the extraordinarily narrow margin, but when the recanvass was completed Thursday, Bevin still claimed an 83-vote lead over the onetime primary favorite.
"Within minutes of receiving the results of the recanvass, I called Matt Bevin to concede and congratulate him on a hard-fought victory," Comer said in a statement.
Comer also praised Bevin for running "a clean campaign," after a primary that turned ugly between Comer and a third contender, former Louisville Metro Councilman Hal Heiner, after one of Comer's former college girlfriends accused him of physical and mental abuse. Comer "enthusiastically" offered his endorsement to Bevin on Friday. Bevin is scheduled to hold a press conference Friday morning at the Kentucky Republican Party headquarters in Frankfort with the Republican nominees for other statewide offices.
Bevin's come-from-behind win marks a stunning turnaround from one year ago, when he lost to Sen. Mitch McConnell after a bruising primary fight that many thought left Bevin permanently damaged. Many Kentucky Republicans resented Bevin when he chose not to endorse McConnell in the general election—Bevin this week tried to deny the snub had happened—and remain skeptical of his current potential. Those wounds have been slow to heal, particularly after Bevin and McConnell avoided making their first public appearance together this week, citing separate scheduling conflicts.
The party will hold a statewide Lincoln Dinner on May 30 that's intended to be a unity rally for the nominee. McConnell has already said he cannot attend. But earlier, he had also said that he would support whoever the nominee is once the results were official. He did so Friday, saying in a statement: "I congratulate Matt Bevin on his victory and endorse him for governor."
Bevin will face state Attorney General Jack Conway in the November general election.