Kentucky Governor’s race too close to call. TRANSCRIPT: 11/5/19, The Rachel Maddow Show.
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: That is ALL IN for this evening.
“THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW” starts right now.
Good evening, Rachel.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNC HOST: You`re hiding your guests like under people`s
seats? So, like –
HAYES: You are hiding the ball. It`s called a tease, and I`m speaking to
the master, the master. It all came loose of the deep tease. I learned it
from watching you.
MADDOW: The only reason I deep tease things is because I run out of time
and then say, OK, that`s next.
MADDOW: It`s never – almost never intentional. So –
HAYES: No, you are – you are Michelangelo painting the Sistine Chapel
with teases. So, I`m just trying to work on my own.
MADDOW: I`m going to break in to your office and figure out who your
guests are, just so I know, because I can`t handle the suspense. Thank
you, my friend. Much appreciated.
HAYES: You bet.
MADDOW: And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour.
It`s turning out to be a very interesting election night tonight. All
across the country, voters headed to the polls tonight in off-year
elections and off-year elections means that there`s like a little something
happening electorally everywhere in and a few states there`s a lot
For example, every two years on the off years, we get every seat in the
Virginia statehouse and Senate on the ballot. You might remember in 2017,
so two years ago, right, the last year we had a big off-year election in
Virginia, there was a huge blue wave in Virginia. Remember that? The
Democratic candidates running for statehouse in Virginia two years ago got
more than 200,000 more votes than their Republican opponents who they were
But it was a fascinating thing to watch election results two years ago in
Virginia, because getting the most votes didn`t translate into Democrats
getting the most seats in the Virginia house that year, because the
Republicans had gerrymandered the state so badly to make it easier for them
to win more seats even when they didn`t have more votes. When the results
came in Virginia two years ago tonight, Republicans even though they`d had
200,000 fewer votes than the Democrats, they had won 50 seats in the
statehouse while Democrats had only won 49. It was nuts. It was like a
perfect distillation of how gerrymandering works. Get all the votes you
want, we`re still taking all the seats.
In the Virginia house a couple years ago, there was one race outstanding
that actually took weeks to call. The winner of that last race ultimately
decided who got to take control of the statehouse. That last race in
Virginia House in 2017 came down to a literal tie. Each candidate had
received the exact same number of votes. And so, to break the tie which
ultimately decided who got that seat which decided partisan control of the
house, they ended up writing the candidates names on pieces of paper and
they slipped them into film canisters, they drew the winner out of the blue
It was the Republican candidate who ended up winning that race. His name
got pulled out of the bowl, so, it was the Republicans who ended up with
control of the statehouse even though therapy wildly outvoted by the
Democrats in 2017. That was Virginia last time. That`s how the crazy way
the balance of power then statehouse of Virginia got decided two years ago.
Democrats winning more votes, Democrats not therefore getting more seats
and ultimately the whole thing being decided by scraps of paper and a bowl.
And now, two years later, it`s election day again. Among other places in
Virginia, every single seat on the Virginia legislator is on the ballot.
And this time for the first time since the drawing names out of a bowl
election, Virginia voters will head to the poles in a state that has been
un-gerrymandered. Oh, the state`s legislative math got un-gerrymandered by
court order, which means that this time, unlike two years ago, if Democrats
again win tons more votes on their Republican opponents, those votes have a
much better shot of actually translating into Democrats taking seats in the
legislator and thereby taking control of the state government.
To win Democratic control in Virginia, Democrats would have to flip just
two seats in the statehouse tonight and just one seat in the state senate.
If they pull that off tonight, Democrats would be ultimately taking full
control of Virginia`s state government for the first time in about a
quarter of a century.
So, off-year elections are always interesting. They tend to be sort of
bell bellwethers. People tend to extrapolate on them a lot in terms of
what`s going to happen in the next big midterm election year, or the next
big presidential election year. They`re always interesting. Particularly,
Virginia has been dramatic over the last couple of years.
But for states all over the country that are having big elections right
now, tonight is turning out to be a very intriguing evening. For example,
we`re keeping an eye on two big governors races tonight.
One in Mississippi. And as of right now, that is too close to call. It`s
only 4 percent in, so don`t get yourself too excited there. But the
difference there is less than 300 votes between the two of them. Again,
wildly too early to call, with only 4 percent in the Republican candidate
there is Tate Reeves. The Democratic candidate is Jim Hood.
We`re also watching the governor`s race in Kentucky. This one we`ve got a
lot more vote in, and this is one that is getting so interesting, it`s got
me worried about Steve Kornacki`s blood pressure.
The governor of Kentucky is a Republican named Matt Bevin. Matt Bevin has
been the governor of Kentucky since 2016. In theory, on paper, it
shouldn`t be an open question whether a Republican governor can get re-
elected in a deep red state like Kentucky. But Matt Bevin is a special
kind of guy, a special kind of Kentucky Republican governor in the sense
that people don`t seem to like him very much as governor.
He has pushed hard to claw back Medicaid expansion in his state, and that
may sound like a wonky issue if it`s not something you are up on. But at
the bottom line, what he has been trying to do with Medicaid expansion
would throw hundreds of thousands of Kentuckians off their health
insurance, and the governor has championed that.
He`s also picked aggressive fights, sometimes sort of dirty fights with the
state`s public schoolteachers and also with the state`s law enforcement
community. And so, when you pick fights with those kind of folks who tend
to be heroes with most regular Americans, you end up, as Matt Bevin, is
being pretty wildly unpopular as an incumbent sitting governor. He`s one
of the most unpopular governors in the entire country.
And so, there have been sort of low-key rumblings for several weeks that
Governor Matt Bevin of Kentucky might be in trouble as he tries to hold
onto the governor`s mansion in today`s election. Well, last night,
President Trump held a rally in Kentucky to try to give Matt Bevin a boost
on the eve of election day today.
President Trump, of course, won in deep red Kentucky by 30 points. This
was the map of his electoral victory, right, just a beat red swath in
Kentucky from November 2016. President Trump himself last night basically
warned Matt Bevin that he shouldn`t blow the enormous built-in advantage
that Trump was throwing his way in this plus-30 Trump state.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If you lose, they`re going
to say Trump suffered the greatest defeat in the history of the world.
This was the greatest. You can`t let that happen to me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: The president schlepping to Kentucky to support Republican
Governor Matt Bevin last night, again a state Trump won by 30 points. It
would have been a huge push to get Matt Bevin over the finish line, not to
mention the fact it`s a red state, not to mention the fact he`s an
It may not have been enough, though. This is what we`re watching. Right
now, the Kentucky governor`s race is too close to call. And look up at the
upper right hand corner of your screen there, 99 percent of the vote in.
With 99 percent of the vote in, it is the Democrat, Andy Beshear, who`s in
the lead. It`s a slim lead, less than 10,000 votes.
Again, the Democrat in this race is Andy Beshear. He`s the attorney
general right now in Kentucky. Kentucky is as red a state as they come.
But Kentucky has had a Democratic governor before and not that long ago.
The last Democratic governor also happened to be named Beshear because it
was Andy Beshear`s dad.
So, Attorney General Andy Beshear is not an unknown or his family name an
unknown name to Kentucky voter. But it looks like tonight, they might make
him their next governor. They may have him ousting the state`s incumbent
Republican, although, again, too close to call at this hour.
Joining us to make sense of all of this is MSNBC national political
correspondent Steve Kornacki, our elections wizard.
Steve, what can you tell us?
STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Wow. So, let`s
put this in some perspective here. You say 99 percent. We can show you
exactly what the margin is, and where the voters are left. The margin
right now, that means – not sure why the pen is green, but we`ll go with
that, 9,947. That`s Andy Beshear`s lead.
Now, where are the votes left? You can see, there are two pieces of gray
on your screen. That`s not all, but that is most. These are two counties,
Grayson County, there`s no vote here. Now, this is Republican county.
Here`s what I can tell you, we can do a bit of a math here and figure out
where this may be going. In 2015, when Matt Bevin ran for governor for the
first time and won, he won Grayson County, Republican, we expect that, his
margin here was about 1,500 votes, OK?
Now, we`ve been seeing much higher turn out across Kentucky today. We`ve
been seeing Bevin do well. So his margin we can expect will be
significantly higher. Let`s say it was 2,500, OK? Let`s say she got a
2,500 or so margin at Grayson.
This disappear when I press, let`s see. Unfortunately, it did. But
remember that number, 2,500, because the other big – the other big county
left is Ballard, the other outstanding piece of real estate. And here, his
margin was 322 votes in 2015, a small county.
Again, let`s say higher turn out, strong Bevin – let`s say he got that to
600. So remember the numbers I gave you were 2,500 and 600. What does
that add up to? That would add to up about 3,100, and a real rosy scenario
for Bevin. He`d get a 3,100 vote plurality out of these counties.
You can see, that would eat about a third of Beshear`s margin. So, if
Bevin did incredibly well, add another thousand or something to that, he
still wouldn`t be half of Beshear`s total. So, you look at those counties
and you say, if you are the Beshear campaign, you like where you are.
These are two counties that are entirely out. There`s a scattering of
about a dozen other precincts that are left throughout the state. They are
all – I just checked, they`re basically all in Republican counties. These
precincts are producing about 350 votes each give or take. So they`re very
small pieces of real estate.
So it is – I know our decision desk has not called this. You see too
close to call in your screen. They want to make sure there`s no big
surprise out of Ballard County. They want to make sure there`s no big
surprise out of Grayson County. They want to make sure there`s no big
surprise out of any of these other precincts.
But if you look at the math and just extrapolate for everything else we`re
seeing tonight, there`s a reason why Democrats are feeling better than
Republicans about where this may be going.
MADDOW: And, Steve, when you talk about those dozen precincts outside of
Grayson and Ballard County that are yet to come in, and those being largely
Republican precincts, just sort of enveloping the math here in terms of
what you just said about the total number of votes that would be, seems to
me what you`re saying about what you expect in Grayson and Ballard, even a
good scenario for Matt Bevin, even if he sort of cleaned up in those
outstanding Republican precincts, he still wouldn`t be at Beshear`s lead.
KORNACKI: Yes, it`s tough to look at what`s left and find a scenario where
Bevin gets there. But I think when you see absolutely no vote coming in
yet from either county, I think if you want to be sure about this from the
standpoint of certainly NBC and calling this race, you just want to make
sure when the precincts don`t start reporting, there isn`t some major
surprise, something totally unforeseen.
But, yes, if you just extrapolate from everything we had, Bevin will get
closer. He will eat into this, but it`s hard to see overtaking it.
The other thing we should notice when it gets this close, everyone starts
asking you within 1 percent is there going to be a recount? Kentucky law
on this is there`s no automatic trigger for a recount. Any losing
candidate can request a recount. They have to go to court for it, they
have to go to a judge for it. And so, if Bevin were to fall out sort, he
decided he wanted to file some kind of a suit, a judge would then decide if
there was going to be a recount.
MADDOW: And, Steve, in terms of how these things ultimately get shook out,
is there anything we should know in terms of fighting over the actual
mechanics of voting? Election board politicization, these sorts of fights
potentially have an impact if this does become a knock-down-drag-out,
particularly if it becomes a court battle. Are there ugly scenes like that
in Kentucky we should worried about?
KORNACKI: Yes. No, not, there`s nothing that`s jumped out today, and if
Bevin were to fall short, let`s say if he were to fall short and decide to
challenge this, it`s unclear what the grounds would be he would cite. I
haven`t seen anything today that would obviously jump out. Obviously,
lawyers are paid to come out for reasons in a close election, losing
candidates certainly have the right to pursue whatever they want to purse.
But I haven`t seen anything tonight that jumps out in that regard. This is
an extremely, extremely high turn out gubernatorial election.
KORNACKI: Look at the numbers here. This is over 1.4 million, with more
to come. Put that in some perspective. If it ends up 1.4 million, give or
take, the last gubernatorial election in Kentucky 2015, 973,000.
KORNACKI: So, in the 2016 presidential election, 1.9 million. So, you`re
right in between, presidential election and sort of off-year gubernatorial
election, that`s extremely high turn out. And we`ve been seeing that
across the state today.
MADDOW: And if Beshear is going to end up pulling this out, and we don`t
know, it`s still too close to call, that will help with the Democratic
maxim that higher turn out almost always benefits a Democratic victory.
KORNACKI: And I can give you just a bit of news. As you were asking that
question, Grayson just almost entirely came in. And you can see here,
Bevan 96 percent in. Let`s do the path that 2,698. We said 1,514 was his
margin in 2015. He could probably get that up to 2,800, probably one
percent left here, so he could probably get that up to 2,800, 2,900.
You see what that did to the overall lead statewide, 7,249 right now. One
more will come out of Grayson and then we`ll get Ballard where it was 322
votes last night, and needing more than 7,000 right now is Bevin.
MADDOW: So, as all eyes are on Ballard County and watching that last
precinct, Steve, let me ask you while I`ve got you about Virginia tonight.
Obviously, Virginia, always has off-year elections. They`re always seen as
an interesting bellwether. Last year, they had a fascinating thing happen
in terms of their state legislative races.
What should we be watching for in Virginia or what are you expressing?
KORNACKI: I`m going to press this graphic and see if it works because we
have a graphic. There it is.
So, there was a vacancy, there was a Democratic vacancy. It was
essentially 51-49 in the House of Delegates. Either party doesn`t want a
tie. You want to end up winning.
So, Democrats needed to get a two seat gain out of the House of Delegates.
NBC News is not characterizing individual state legislative races. We`re
sort of deferring to “The Associated Press”. “The Associated Press” right
now has so far with more to come has called one flip, has one Republican
seat in the House of Delegates going to the Democrats. Democrats need to
end up with two.
According to “The Associated Press” at this hour, they have one on the
state Senate side. Again, it`s a 40 seat body. There`s a vacancy. It`s a
Republican vacancy so it`s really 21-19.
Here the Democrats just need a net gain of one. A lieutenant Democrat
would break the tie, sort of like the U.S. Senate. And right now the
associated press has called one flip Republican to Democrat. So, right
now, Democrats are where they need to be on the state Senate side.
MADDOW: Although with the state Senate in Virginia, there`s always
MADDOW: So in terms of people declaring themselves independents, we`ll
have to watch that closely. Steve, I know you`ve got more math to do.
We`ll be back with you as we continue to watch these races come in.
Right now I actually want to stick with this drama in Kentucky tonight.
Vaughn Hillyard is the political reporter for NBC News and right now he`s
at Andy Beshear headquarters, at the headquarters of the Democratic
gubernatorial candidate in Kentucky.
Vaughn, I know it is a bustling room behind you. What can you tell us
about the mood there and what you`re hearing from Beshear`s folks?
VAUGHN HILLYARD, NBC NEWS: Good evening, Rachel. As this evening is going
on, you`ve got two different time zones. So, folks are watching the polls
close one hour and seeing more results come in that next hour.
And slowly over this while the room has been bubbling here. You see we get
99 percent of the precincts coming in. I`ve been talking with the campaign
this evening has been going on. The area reporting there as Steve was
talking about was Kentucky.
You know, this Democratic Party used to rein in Kentucky and there was one
name Steve Beshear, that would be the father of Andy Beshear, who, of
course, was the governor of Kentucky before Matt Bevin was. And when
you`re looking at those eastern counties, a lot of those are small
counties, Johnson County. But what you see those numbers so far –
MADDOW: Vaughn, I never like to interrupt anybody for any reason, but we
have a call in this race that Andy Beshear – Andy Beshear, according to
NBC News, is the apparent winner of the governor`s race in Kentucky.
Again, apparent winner is a very specific type of declaration from NBC News
there. But that is brand new declaration with 99 percent of the vote in,
and a difference of 6,251 votes between the two candidates.
Vaughn, again I apologize to you for interrupting to you while you were
talking to us from Andy Beshear headquarters, but as this news filters out
to people there I imagine things may go a little nuts.
HILLYARD: Well, also we haven`t got that announcement on stage yet, but I
think this is going to spawn the conversation about this Republican Party
today, Rachel. Earlier today I had the chance to talk with Matt Bevin.
For anyone who listened to him on the stump, or listened to his campaign
speeches or listened to his TV speeches here, it`s been about Donald Trump,
impeachment and Donald Trump. Essentially he`s tried to nationalize this
race. Well, as you look at Andy Beshear, he talked about education, talked
about health care, talked about pension reform and jobs.
He went with that approach basically separating himself. There were no
national damns that came to this state to campaign for Andy Beshear,
Rachel. But Steve – Matt Bevin earlier when I asked him why did you
nationalize this race, and he said, did you just come out of a rock, and I
said, you`re not running for the House of Representatives for the Senate,
sir? And he said the people here care about Donald Trump. He is going to
campaign and talk about Donald Trump.
And what you`re seeing here is essentially a 30 point swing, Rachel. This
is place Donald Trump won in 2016 by 30 percentage points. To put that in
perspective go back to the mid-terms. If you look through some of that
voter data there, essentially 5 percent of voters that voted in the 2018
election, Rachel, about 5 percent as Trump voters as you would call them
ended up voting for House Democrats. So, when you come here and look at
Kentucky, a state where Mitch McConnell was on the ballot last year, and
you`re talking about a 30 point swing, this is enormous.
And I mention Mitch McConnell because there`s a lot of talk about Democrats
here about what this election would mean. You have a primary facing Mitch
McConnell next year, Mitch McConnell`s approval numbers were about the same
level as Matt Bevin here. Matt Bevin is somebody who as I mentioned tied
himself to Donald Trump, speaks like Donald Trump.
I just want to mention one conversation. Her name was Suzy Campbell, I
talked to her last year. She`s a grain farmer out in Spencer County. I
called her up. She voted for Donald Trump in 2016. She also voted for
Matt Bevin in 2015.
I called her up and said what are you going to do tomorrow? And she said
I`m going to go to the polls and vote for Democrats. I`m going to go and
vote for Andy Beshear because she said that Matt Bevin tied himself too
much to the president and said he was a bully, he`s not talking about
And when you`re looking at across the state here the northern Kentucky
area, those suburbs around Cincinnati where you saw 10-point swings and not
only 10-point swings but also voter turn out about 150 percent from what
they were back in those 2015 numbers, Rachel.
MADDOW: Wow, that turnout numbers are going to be a huge part of the
story. Also those dynamics in terms of the national things at play or not
Great reporting, Vaughn Hillyard, NBC News political reporter at Andy
Beshear headquarters. We`ll be back with you later on, Vaughn. Thank you
very, very much.
I want to reiterate we have just had a call in this race. NBC News is
declaring the apparent winner of the Kentucky governor`s race is the
Democrat in the race, Andy Beshear, upsetting Matt Bevin, the incumbent
Republican governor of Kentucky. As Vaughn Hillyard was just explaining
there, the thing to keep in mind about Kentucky not just it is a red state
but a state that went for Donald Trump by 30 points. President Trump in
Kentucky as recently as last night throwing the full weight of his
presidency behind incumbent Republican Governor Matt Bevin who appears
today to have been ousted.
Again, NBC declaring Andy Beshear, the Democrat, to be the apparent winner
of the governor`s race.
Steve Kornacki, let me go back to you. Tell us what else we have learned.
KORNACKI: Yes, I mean, we were just kind of put the period on the end of
the sentence. We said we were waiting on those two counties. We showed
you Grayson when it came in.
This is what finally triggered the call, I believe. Ballard the final
outstanding county came in. You see Bevin wins and wins it by about a
thousand votes. That`s up from 2015. But, obviously, nowhere near what he
needed to turn this around. So, again, about a 6,200 vote margin here for
Vaughn made some a couple of key points here. He was going over – one I
want to emphasize because I think to me in addition to the high turnout,
it`s the story of the night, it`s sort of an extension of the national
story we`ve been telling. We certainly saw this in 2018 in the midterm
elections, why the Democrats were able to get that net gain of 46, the
suburbs – the suburbs moving away from the party of Donald Trump towards
the Democratic Party.
Yes, that`s a story in Kentucky as well, and it`s a story right here.
These three counties in northern Kentucky, you see them kind of jutting
outright here. Those three counties actually make up about 10 percent of
the population of the state of Kentucky.
What they are suburbs of? They`re suburbs of Cincinnati. Cincinnati right
across the river there. These are traditionally Republican areas and they
swung farther than just about anything I saw on the map tonight.
Let me take through this Boone County right here now. Bevin does win Boone
County, 56 percent of the vote. This was the first sign tonight Bevin was
in trouble, because in a county this size, he needs a big number. He got
66 percent last time.
Donald Trump got 68 percent of the vote here in 2016. Tonight down to 56
percent there for Matt Bevin in Boone County.
Go next door to Kenton County. Kenton County, look at this, Bevin didn`t
even win Kenton County. How big of a departure from what we`re used to is
that? Here`s the 2016 result.
Trump got 60 percent of the vote here. Bevan when he ran a couple of years
ago wasn`t far behind. Tonight, he didn`t even win this county.
You go one more after that, Campbell County right next door. Again, a
solid Beshear win. You can see Trump by 25 points –
KORNACKI: – in 2016, and Bevin himself won this by double digits when he
ran in 2015. So, these were the biggest shifts we saw, and not just shifts
in terms of the percentages changing, keep in mind, these are high
population areas. And if you`re losing that kind of ground, if you`re Matt
Bevin and you`re losing that kind of ground in a densely populated region
that accounts for 10 percent of the state, it goes as far as anything else
I can think of to tell you why that number turned out like it did.
MADDOW: Again, NBC News declaring Andy Beshear the apparent winner here.
Steve, let me just ask you stepping back from the math of this a little
bit, I think Vaughn also raised an important question about the Senate
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who, of course, is from Kentucky, who is
facing probably one of it stronger challenges he`s ever faced in his Senate
career next year. Obviously every race is specific. Andy Beshear is a
specific candidate. Matt Bevin is a specific incumbent.
And the winds in the country may be blowing differently a year from tonight
than they are tonight. But do you think it`s fair for people to start
extrapolating from these results tonight to think about what Mitch
McConnell may be up against in trying to hold on his seat?
KORNACKI: So, I`d be cautious. I mean, if you`re Mitch McConnell, you are
not happy with what you`re seeing tonight.
KORNACKI: If you`re Mitch McConnell and you look at some of the poll
numbers we`ve all seen in terms of his standing in that right now, and you
think also of the standing Bevin had. He was the second least popular
governor, according to the Morning Consult poll of 50 states. You look at
what happened to him and you`re Mitch McConnell, you might be nervous too.
The things that McConnell has going for him, I think you have to keep in
mind number one, will be a presidential election year. So, Donald Trump on
the ballot. Trump won this by 30 points last time. We will see if his
presence on the ballot changes.
The other thing is you go down ballot in Kentucky tonight, the result is
looking a bit more different, more favorable to Republicans. So, I think
what you`ll hear from McConnell`s side is still a Trump state. You`ll have
Trump on the ballot next year, and there were specific problems with Bevin
that made him one of the least popular governors of the country that won`t
be in effect next year.
And also, McConnell running in a federal race, U.S. Senate, versus running
the state government in Frankfort, sometimes voters distinguish those.
So, you still would look at McConnell and you`d say running in Kentucky
he`s probably in better shape than, he`s probably more favored than
underdog. But, yes, you see a result like that.
MADDOW: Yes, and it`s a statewide race.
KORNACKI: Make you a little nervous and I think any incumbent a little
nervous, I`d say.
MADDOW: All right. Steve, I know we`ve got a lot more to cover over the
course of the night as we keep watching results come in from Virginia,
Mississippi and other places. We`ll be back with you.
We`re going to get in a quick break right now just because I actually want
to go back to Kentucky after the break. Again, we are covering this
breaking news, developing political news just fascinating.
NBC News has declared the apparent winner in the Kentucky governor`s race
is Democrat Andy Beshear, upsetting and ousting incumbent Republican
Governor Matt Bevin. I mean, it`s a very close race. You see there, a
difference of less than 7,000 votes. But this is 99 percent in and NBC has
made their call of an apparent winner in this race.
We`ll be back with more from Kentucky. We`ll also be watching the
Mississippi governor`s race and what`s turning out to be a pretty
fascinating race to control the state legislator in the great state of
Virginia. Among other elections were watching tonight.
Stay with us. Lots to come.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: If you lose, they`re going to say Trump suffered the greatest
defeat in the history of the world. This was the greatest. You can`t let
that happen to me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That just happened to you.
That was President Trump speaking last night in Kentucky where he was
campaigning for incumbent Republican Governor Matt Bevin. Matt Bevin
appears tonight to have just lost his seat. Don`t let that happen to me.
NBC News declaring that Democrat Andy Beshear is the apparent winner of the
Kentucky governor`s race which would make him – which would mean that he`s
upset and ousted an incumbent Republican in that red state. I mean, for
context here, President Trump won Kentucky by 30 points in 2016. It was
his fifth best state after only West Virginia, Wyoming, Oklahoma and North
Dakota. He won by more than 30 points.
Tonight, after he spent the eve of Election Day in Kentucky, pulling for
the Republican candidate there, and the Republican governor appears to have
Joining us now is Joe Sonka, politics reporter for “The Louisville Courier
Mr. Sonka, thank you for joining us tonight. I appreciate you making time.
JOE SONKA, POLITICS REPORTER, THE LOUISVILLE COURIER JOURNAL (via
telephone): Thanks for having me, Rachel.
MADDOW: So, NBC News is calling Andy Beshear the apparent winner. I have
to ask you how much of a surprise that is from your perspective covering
Kentucky politics up close and this election in particular?
SONKA: I have to say I was surprised. I expected Andy Beshear to do
better than any of the other candidates. But I, kind of, expected Bevin to
hold on even though it was close. But it turns out the antipathy for
Governor Matt Bevin which is so strong that not even Donald Trump himself
could come in – in fact it was one of the worst counties for Bevin in the
election. He was blown out – where Democrats are heavily in those cities
and it turned out that (INAUDIBLE).
MADDOW: You`re saying the president visiting those cities on Matt Bevin`s
behalf might have actually energized the other side?
SONKA: Yes, I would say so. It motivated Democrats and I should note that
Governor Bevin is an atypical kind of candidate. He`s very brash. In
2015, he won and before Trump in 2015 when he won – when Trump won in 2016
for Kentuckians it was very familiar because Bevin acts very similar to
Trump, very bombastic and doesn`t apologize for it, and it turns out
altogether, Republicans in the state did quite well, they swept all the
other statewide races, we have a Republican attorney general in 70 years
right now. It was just Matt Bevin didn`t survive.
MADDOW: Joe Sonka, joining us from – political reporter for “The
Louisville Courier Journal” joining us tonight from Kentucky. Joe, thank
you for being with us. I know there`s going to be more the come but thanks
for joining us on short notice.
SONKA: Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: While it was talking to Joe Sonka there, the politics reporter for
“The Louisville Courier Journal”, we got some more news. “The Associated
Press” has just made an interesting call in Virginia. We`ve been talking
earlier about how Virginia always has off-year elections that every seat in
the statehouse and every seat in the state Senate were up tonight.
Just two years ago in Virginia, we saw an incredible turn out of Democratic
voters, Democrats in the statehouse, for example, received 200,000 more
votes than the Republicans they were running against. Nevertheless, the
state was so gerrymandered that Republicans, by hook or by crook, ended up
still in control of that – of the legislature – of both houses of the
legislature. Well, as of right now, “The Associated Press” has declared
the Democratic Party has gained control of the Virginia state senate.
We are still watching the House to see if Democrats will also be able to
flip the House.
Can we bring Steve in on this or are we going to take a break and bring in
Steve? We`ll take a quick break and have Steve Kornacki look at this.
You should know in Virginia, though, this has potentially huge policy
implication in the state because Democrats right now already hold the big
statewide offices in Virginia, governor, lieutenant governor, A.G., those
things. They have not controlled the legislator. Virginia Republicans
have had narrow control of both the House and Senate.
Despite how well Democrats did in 2017, if the Democrats are able to flip
both Houses of the legislator in particular, again the “A.P.” saying
they`ve already got the Senate, that would put the Democratic Party in
control of every major statewide office and state legislator in Virginia.
That would have huge implications in terms of policymaking in the state and
in terms of just whether or not people still consider Virginia a purple
So, “A.P.” is calling the Virginia Senate for the Democratic Party. We`re
waiting on the news out of the House in Virginia. It`s turning out to be
an interesting off-year night for Democrats, again with the news we
continue to cover out of Kentucky that the Democratic challenger has taken
the governorship from Republican Matt Bevin in Kentucky even as Kentucky
Republicans were able to hold on or take some other statewide races in that
We`ll be right back with the latest from Virginia and more. Stay with us.
MADDOW: Re-upping the breaking news we gave you right before the
commercial break, “The Associated Press” has called that Democrats have
officially flipped control of the Virginia state senate. Now, this follows
the other surprise news of the night that Democrat Andy Beshear is the
apparent winner of the governor`s race in the great state of Kentucky, a
state that President Trump, of course, won by 30 points in 2016.
Now, in Virginia the significance here is sort of more than just the state
legislature. Virginia Democrats control the big statewide offices in
Virginia already. But it has been the Republican Party that has narrowly
held both houses of had legislature while Democrats have controlled the
governorship and other statewide seats. Well, one of those two houses, the
state Senate, has now flipped to Democratic control according to the
“Associated Press” just moments ago.
We`re still awaiting more results rights now to see if Democrats might also
have a shot at flipping the House as well. If they`re able to do that,
that would give the Democratic Party complete control of the state
government in Virginia for what I believe would be the first time in a
Joining us once again is Steve Kornacki.
Steve, tell me what I need to know about Virginia.
KORNACKI: Well, we just got another call from the “A.P.” I can show you
two parts to this. Starting in the House of Delegates coming into tonight
51-48, there was a vacancy, Democratic seats. So, essentially 51-49 coming
What was just called in the last minute on the house side, right now the
“A.P.” says Democrats have flipped three seats, a net of three seats on the
House of Delegates side. Remember they needed two or more. Right now
they`re exceeding the number. They`re hitting their number basically.
There are still – I want to get the exact number here – there are 19
races in the house of delegates that have not been called by the associated
So, there are still 19 outstanding. But right now the current net gain for
Democrats is three. They need to end the night at two or more to control
On the Senate side the net gain they have is two for the Democrats. Again,
this was a vacant Republican seat. It was 20-20. This basically pushed
the Democrats, as you see that puts them – excuse me, that was 20-19.
I knew that number was wrong. It was 21-19 that essentially puts the
Democrats in control there. If this holds and this has been called as you
say complete control for Democrats.
And just the bigger picture in all of this, just think of the change in the
state of Virginia and how that has accelerated recently. Look at this.
This is the every presidential election result going back to `68 with
Richard Nixon in Virginia. We used to call Virginia a safely red state.
This is the Republican margin. All these years, Republicans winning the
It changed with Barack Obama in 2008. I remember I was down in Virginia,
Election Day 2012, it was a big swing state that year. It was right on the
national margin. It is moving from swing state to blue state status and
certainly having Democrats in control the governorship and both houses of
the legislature and voting for the Democratic presidential candidates, it
would really solidify that reputation as a state, not really even a swing
state anymore maybe.
MADDOW: Steve, let`s go back to that issue of those House and Senate
races. What you described there in terms of the number of seats that have
flipped already, again, “The Associated Press” has already called the state
senate and said it will be Democratic control of the state senate.
MADDOW: So, according to the “A.P.” That has flipped to Democratic
In the House, you said there`s been three seats already –
MADDOW: – that have flipped to Democratic control. And what that means
with 19 seats still to be called, if none of them flipped, if they stayed
in partisan terms what they are now, that would be more than enough for
Democrats to take the House as well?
KORNACKI: In fact, yes. If they stay the same, Democrats get the House.
If Republicans pick up, that would knock down to two for the Democrats,
still enough because you need two or more if you`re a Democrat to get
control of this.
So, really in what is outstanding on the house side, those 19 seats,
Republicans in that pool of 19 need a net gain of two.
KORNACKI: You could look at it that way. A net gain of two in those
remaining 19 if this made sense would knock the net gain for the night down
to one, which wouldn`t be enough. So, Democrats if they end up at two or
more here, they`ve got control.
MADDOW: OK. So, we`ll continue watching – again, we`re watching
“Associated Press” tallies on the seats as they come in. But right now the
Senate is cooked –
KORNACKI: “A.P.” has called the Senate for the Democrats, and Democrats
are up there in the house.
MADDOW: Thank you, Mr. Kornacki. It`s going to be an exciting night still
All right. There`s lots going on, politics and other news, and I actually
have no idea what we`re going to do after the break. Let`s see. We`ll be
MADDOW: In the midst of all the other things that are happening right now,
including tonight in the news, this is the main banner headline right now
at the front page of “The New York Times.” Quote: key witness revises
testimony, citing quid pro quo with Ukraine. Sondland says he told
Ukrainians aid was held up over inquiry demand.
Gordon Sondland, the envoy to the European Union, said he told the
Ukrainians they needed to comply with investigative requests by Rudy
Here`s the companion piece in “The Washington Post” tonight. Quote, with
revised testimony, Sondland ties Trump to quid pro quo. In a supplemental
declaration to his earlier testimony, the ambassador to the E.U. said that
aid was linked to the opening of an investigation that could damage 2020
presidential candidate Joe Biden.
Just in case there wasn`t enough going on in your news night, joining us
here on set is Congressman Eric Swalwell. He`s a member of the
Intelligence Committee and the Judiciary Committee in the House.
Sir, nice to have you here. Thanks for being here.
REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D-CA): Yes, thanks for having me. Of course.
MADDOW: So, first of all, one of the things we`re covering tonight is this
sort of surprising electoral news the Democrat, NBC news projects is the
apparent winner in the Kentucky governor`s race. It appears Democrats have
taken at least partial control of the legislator in Virginia.
As a Democrat and someone who was recently running for your party`s
presidential nomination, that has to be good news to you.
SWALWELL: It`s exciting. I think it started in 2017 after Trump was
elected. We go to Alabama and we win there and then we pick up seats –
MADDOW: The Doug Jones` seat, yes.
SWALWELL: Doug Jones – and we pick up seats in the Midwest, Kansas, Iowa,
Texas, we see gains, and here Kentucky. And to make it really hyper local,
I just learned my wife`s hometown, Columbus, Indiana, hometown of Vice
President Mike Pence, their city candidate just went majority Democratic.
SWALWELL: I think a lot of these issues are local, and we can`t read too
much into what impeachment means for these places.
In Kentucky, for example, the governor there, Governor Bevin was working
overtime to reverse the Affordable Care Act, and that was on ballot there
and Kentuckians like the apparent winner tonight his father had worked to
put Kentuckians on the Affordable Care Act. So, that matters.
MADDOW: Yes, and campaigns matter, candidates matter, local issues matter.
And off-year elections, I think it`s easy to extrapolate from them when
you`re in favor of the results and easy to write them off when it`s not.
SWALWELL: Right, but I hope our 2020 candidates, the lesson they take away
is – yes, Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, those are going to be
important. But look everywhere. There`s opportunities everywhere.
MADDOW: Let me ask you about the impeachment proceedings right now.
Obviously, it`s factoring into – at some level factoring into every race
in the country. It also still appears to me in its early stages while it`s
also moving fast. How quickly do you expect we`re going to be moving into
the public hearings part of this?
SWALWELL: We`re moving expeditiously. And I think the fact that the
transcripts from the depositions are coming out, it shows that there`s
enough evidence to have public hearings. We want to do that as soon as
possible. We have John Bolton and Mick Mulvaney supposedly coming in this
week. They`ve been asked to come in.
And we`re kind of getting to at least on the end of this Ukraine shakedown,
who`s relevant. If they don`t come in, we`re not going to do what we did
earlier this year, which was – you know, try and go to the courts, fight
their resistance. We`re just going to file that away as one a
consciousness of guilt. If the White House thought those witnesses would
help them, they would let them come in.
And two, consider that maybe, you know, they`re defying a lawful subpoena
and the president telling them to defy that subpoena is something that
should not be an Article IV obstruction of Congress.
MADDOW: You have spoken about the legitimacy, appropriateness, even the
wisdom of starting with these behind closed door depositions. You`ve made
the points specifically that witnesses shouldn`t have the opportunity to
basically line their stories up with each other, to tell each other how
they want each other to testify to make sure their stories line up.
Do you think that`s been effective?
SWALWELL: Yes, but we`ve seen efforts by witnesses to still get around
that. As prosecutor, I learned that you want to have a close hold in an
investigation to keep the integrity of the investigation. Otherwise, the
facts get out in the public that could compromise whether a witness really
knows something or heard it from someone else, or they`re trying to
manufacture an alibi.
Here in Ambassador Sondland`s testimony, you see the night before he
testified to us, he`s on the phone with Rick Perry. And Rick Perry, a
couple of days before that –
MADDOW: About the events in question.
SWALWELL: Yes, about the events in question.
And a couple days after that, Rick Perry gives an interview with “The Wall
Street Journal” and we believe that was a way to kind of get his side out
so that other witnesses could see that. And so, Republicans are also
leaking parts selectively of Kurt Volker`s testimony in the days leading up
to Ambassador Sondland`s testimony. So, we`ve seen efforts, even in the
close hold that we`ve had, they`re trying to get around that so people
can, you know, tailor their testimony, and that`s what we want to protect
MADDOW: Ambassador Sondland`s testimony came with a remarkable addendum,
that just yesterday, he changed his story on one of the main questions at
the heart of this. He came in and told you – as far as I can tell, he
came in and told you a couple of weeks ago basically, yes, there was a quid
pro quo of there being a White House meeting for the new Ukrainian
president, he wasn`t going to get that unless they pursued these
MADDOW: I don`t really know what the investigations were, but yes, that
was the quid pro quo.
When it comes to military aid, no , I would never be involved in that.
Now, he`s admitting, yes, there was a quid pro quo for military aid and,
yes, he was involved in it.
SWALWELL: And he said that after Ambassador Taylor`s opening statement was
released, where Ambassador Taylor said that Ambassador Sondland told him
everything`s on the table, it`s not only the meeting at the White House,
also the military assistance.
And, Rachel, if all the president did was ask the president of Ukraine to
investigate his political opponent, that would be an abuse of power, but he
did much worse, he leveraged the White House meeting, and $391 million in
And I have a different take, though, on Ambassador Sondland where people
are really beating him up for his original statement. And that`s really
for prosecutors to determine what that means. But in investigations, it`s
oftentimes the case that people will want to do the right thing and tell
And I think it`s important if other witnesses have not been truthful to us
or not come in because they`ve been told not to do that, we should give
them the space to do the right thing especially before these public
MADDOW: Let me ask you something that`s kind of a part hypothetical about
that. When I was looking at Ambassador Sondland`s testimony today,
particularly this revision, he still insists he has no idea why the
military aid was withheld or who did it. At the same time, your committee
also released these 75 pages of text messages in which we see Ambassador
Sondland being directly informed by Bill Taylor that OMB was holding up the
military aid per the president.
SWALWELL: That`s right.
MADDOW: And so, he`s still telling you as of today, I don`t know who did
it with withholding the military aid. We can see him respond in real-time
on his phone to being told that the president was doing that. He responds
to that I`m all over it as if I`ll work on it.
So, if it turns out that these witnesses are lying to you, even if they`re
not trying to but they are lying to, should they expect there will be some
consequences for that for them not just in terms of how it plays in the
SWALWELL: I`m sure a Department of Justice that actually cares about what
happened here, not just Bill Barr`s Department of Justice will look at the
truthfulness of witnesses. But again, this early in the investigation, I
do think it`s common, you see people evolved. And of oftentimes, it`s
facts witnesses will even if they know it, they`ll have a close hold on it.
Fortunately here, Ambassador Sondland is not the only one that proves that
there was knowledge that the security assistance was being withheld. We
have other witnesses that know what`s going on, we`ve heard that in public
statements and we can prove that in other ways.
MADDOW: And all of those mutually corroborating statements from all these
different witnesses, all telling the story from everything we`ve seen in
terms of their released opening statements, looking at it from the outside
and trying to keep up with the tide of paper, I feel like with some nuances
like Gordon Sondland saying, I have no idea who did that or why, it doesn`t
seem that believable to me – with those nuances set aside, it does like
seem all these witnesses, State Department, National Security Council,
former officials, current officials are all telling the same story of Rudy
Giuliani leading an effort at the president`s direction to get information
that President Trump thought he could use against his political opponents.
And yes, it was a request but there was also leverage behind in terms of
White House meetings and in terms of military aid. I feel that story now
that we understand it, I do feel like every witness we know you`ve heard,
has backed that up. Have any of them contradicted the core narrative?
SWALWELL: No, all the arrows point in the same direction. The president
was running an extortion shakedown. I do think it`s important that we
focus on the president`s conduct because we have two sharp straight lines
now from the president to Rudy Giuliani and the president to Ambassador
Sondland, where he is saying that for the Ukrainians to get this aid and
the White House meeting, they have to investigate his political opponent.
That`s our taxpayer dollars being leverage by the president solely for his
And focusing on his conduct –
SWALWELL: – and understanding that Rudy Giuliani is the president`s
lawyer and lawyers don`t act outside the interests of their clients, that
those two are connected.
MADDOW: Yes, that this is –
SWALWELL: You can`t separate them.
MADDOW: Nobody was freelancing here. That this was all being directed by
the president and it`s a pretty simple and now very understandable scheme.
SWALWELL: We have the full process now, and, you know, evidence will be
tested. That`s important. Evidence is not a conclusion but we have enough
evidence certainly to bring this forward publicly.
MADDOW: Congressman Eric Swalwell, a member of the Intelligence Committee
and the Judiciary Committee – it`s great to have you here in person, sir.
Good to see you. Thanks.
SWALWELL: Thank you.
MADDOW: I have to say – I enjoyed your presidential run, but you seem
healthier and happier.
SWALWELL: Yes, I`m very happy. Liberated.
MADDOW: We`ll be right back. Stay with us.
MADDOW: Get a good night`s sleep, you`re going to need it. The Roger
Stone trial expected to get under way in earnest tomorrow. The president`s
long time advisor is charged with lying to Congress and witness tampering.
Today was jury selection and even that was a lot, somebody in the courtroom
collapsing, a person, a spectator who appears to be OK. And then later,
Roger Stone himself kind of collapsing after claiming he had food
poisoning. At one point, the judge offered Roger Stone the Imodium she
says that she keeps in her chambers. I just sent my law clerk to get it.
As of tonight, jury selection is mostly done. Opening statements set to
start some time tomorrow. But if today was any indication, this is going
to cocoa for cocoa puffs.
That does it for us tonight. Maybe – actually, won`t be back with a live
show later on because there are still election results coming in.
For now, though, it`s time for “THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL”.
Good evening, Lawrence.
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protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced,
distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the
prior written permission of ASC Services II Media, LLC. You may not alter
or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the