Kentucky Governor’s race too close to call. TRANSCRIPT: 11/5/19, The Rachel Maddow Show.

Guests:
Joe Sonka, Eric Swalwell
Transcript:

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.

 

(LAUGHTER)

 

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

happening. 

 

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

running against. 

 

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

ceramic bowl. 

 

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

incumbent. 

 

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.

 

MADDOW:  Really.

 

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. 

 

MADDOW:  Wow.

 

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

craziness. 

 

KORNACKI:  Yes.

 

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

issues. 

 

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

at play. 

 

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

Beshear. 

 

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 – 

 

MADDOW:  Wow.

 

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.

 

MADDOW:  Yes.

 

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. 

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

(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

lost. 

 

Joining us now is Joe Sonka, politics reporter for “The Louisville Courier

Journal”.

 

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

state. 

 

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

state. 

 

We`ll be right back with the latest from Virginia and more.  Stay with us. 

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

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

quarter century. 

 

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

into tonight. 

 

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

press. 

 

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

that. 

 

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

state. 

 

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.

 

KORNACKI:  Yes.

 

MADDOW:  So, according to the “A.P.”  That has flipped to Democratic

control. 

 

In the House, you said there`s been three seats already –

 

KORNACKI:  Correct. 

 

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. 

 

MADDOW:  Yes.

 

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

to come. 

 

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

right back. 

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

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

Giuliani. 

 

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. 

 

MADDOW:  Wow.

 

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

against. 

 

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

investigations. 

 

SWALWELL:  Right.

 

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

taxpayer dollars.

 

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

the truth. 

 

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

hearings. 

 

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

president`s defense? 

 

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

benefit.

 

And focusing on his conduct – 

 

MADDOW:  Yes.

 

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. 

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

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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