When you think of the state of Kentucky, you probably don't think "paragon of liberal politics," but, believe it or not, it's had a Democratic governor for the last four decades. That all changed on Tuesday when Republican Matt Bevin won the Kentucky governor race, beating Democratic opponent Jack Conway by a significant margin. But just who is Matt Bevin and why is his victory such a big deal for the people of Kentucky? The Republican could usher in a whole new era of conservatism in a state that seemed to be yearning for it.
On Tuesday night, the Kentucky State Board of Elections announced that Bevin had won with 52.5 percent of the vote while Conway lagged behind with 43.8 percent, a nearly nine-percent gap. After the results were read, Bevin took to the podium to orate about the beginning of a new era for Kentucky. He told the crowd:
I'm proud of the fact that this is a great night for Republicans in Kentucky and, more importantly, a great night for conservatives in Kentucky. We have a lot of work to do.
This particular gubernatorial victory was more momentous than most because Bevin is only the second Republican to become governor in Kentucky in the last 40 years. Bevin's landslide victory is indication that the people of Kentucky were eager for change, having become fed up with Obama's policies in the state, but many were still skeptical of Bevin's chances. Why? Here are seven facts about the new governor of Kentucky that paint quite a unique individual.
He's Relatively New To Politics
Bevin only came onto the political scene last year, when he unsuccessfully challenged Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in Kentucky's Senate election. Before that, Bevin enjoyed a fruitful business career, founding his own company, Integrity Asset Management, in 2003, becoming president of Bevin Brothers Manufacturing Company in 2011, and acting as a partner in investment management firm Waycross Partners in Louisville, Kentucky.
He Was Ostracized By His Own Party
Bevin's attempt to beat McConnell in the 2014 Senate primary lost him the respect of Kentucky's Republican network. He then pursued the governorship without the help that many other up-and-coming candidates would rely on, self-funding his campaign for the most part.
His Victory Helped To Make History
Bevin's running mate, Jenean Hampton, will become the first African-American person to hold statewide office in Kentucky.
He Plans To Scale Back Medicaid
Under president Obama's healthcare law, exiting governor Democrat Steve Beshear had expanded Medicaid for Kentucky. As an opponent of Obama's health policies, Bevin has vowed to scale back Medicaid in the state and stop new people from enrolling.
He Fights For Religious Liberty
When the Kim Davis controversy sparked a national debate on marriage equality vs. religious liberty, Bevin assertively aligned himself with the latter. He called on Governor Beshear to issue an executive order to free Davis from jail and in September, he said in a national conference call, "I absolutely support her willingness to stand on her First Amendment rights."
He Has Four Adopted Children From Ethiopia
Bevin and his wife, Glenna, have nine children total — he calls them a "full quiver" on his official site — and four of them are adopted from Ethiopia.
He Wants To Close The Party Gap
During his campaign, Bevin avoided running negative attack ads about Conway, but the Republican Governors Association did so regardless. In his victory speech, Bevin called for both parties to do away with divisive campaigns, telling the crowd, "I believe this offers us an opportunity to change the tenor of what has become expected in the world of politics."