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 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.
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 craziness.
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 --
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 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.
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.
MADDOW: So, according to the "A.P." That has flipped to Democratic control.
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 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.
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.
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.
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 --
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.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END