The Libertarian Party of Kentucky was celebrating Tuesday night, not because of its candidate's victory, but because of incumbent Republican Gov. Matt Bevin's apparent defeat.
The state's Libertarian Party is evidently relishing its role as spoiler, posting on Facebook, "Bevin supporters, your tears are delicious."
"In an ideal world," the post begins, "we elect Libertarian candidates and advance liberty. Failing that, we push mainstream candidates towards liberty to advance the cause. But if we can't do those things, we are always happy to split the vote in a way that causes delicious tears. Tonight there are plenty of delicious tears from Bevin supporters."
Kentucky's Republican Gov.Matt Bevin refused to concede Tuesday night as votes rolled in showing Democrat challenger, Attorney General Andy Beshear, with a 49.2 percent to 48.8 percent edge over the incumbent.
"We are not conceding this race by any stretch," Bevin assured supporters Wednesday, vowing to pursue a recount.
However, the narrow margin of defeat for Bevin, a mere 5,150 votes, likely would have vanished if not for the 28,426 votes allotted to Libertarian candidate John Hicks.
In a Newsmax article, John Gizzi said that Hicks ran on a platform calling for limited government and stronger restrictions on abortion — issues that undoubtedly appeal more to Republicans than Democrats.
Also in the article, Al Coss, former political editor of the Louisville Courier-Journal, predicted that 90 percent of Hicks' votes likely came from people who have voted Republican but refused to vote for Bevin in this case.
This is not a new phenomenon, either. The article adds:
The pattern of Democrats winning races with pluralities and Libertarians making the differences is a familiar one. In 2012, according to a chart prepared by the left-of-center news outlet Daily Kos, there were no fewer than nine contests for the U.S. Senate, House, and governor in which the Libertarian nominee received more votes than the difference between the winning Democrat and losing Republican.
In 2013 and 2014 in Virginia, Republicans Ken Cuccinelli and Ed Gillespie lost tight races for governor and U.S. senator in which the Libertarian made the difference between their loss and the victories of Democrats Terry McAuliffe and Mark Warner.
As of Wednesday morning, no official recount has yet been initiated in Kentucky.