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Bevin seeks vote recanvass while Beshear starts transition

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Republican Gov. Matt Bevin asked Wednesday for a recanvass of Kentucky election results that showed him more than 5,000 votes behind Democrat Andy Beshear, who discounted the challenge and began preparing to take office.

Beshear, the state’s attorney general, said he’s confident in the election outcome, saying any review would show he won the hard-fought campaign.

“Whatever process that the governor chooses to go down, it’s not going to change this overall number of votes,” Beshear said at a news conference. “We are going to take the steps to move forward to make sure that we are ready … on the day that we’re inaugurated.”

With 100% of precincts reporting, Beshear led by a little over 5,000 votes out of more than 1.4 million counted, or a margin of less than 0.4 percentage points. That’s inside the margin that would trigger a recount in most states, and it’s AP policy not to call races that could go to a recount. Although there is no mandatory recount law in Kentucky, the AP is applying that same standard here.

At a news conference late Wednesday in Frankfort, Bevin said he wanted to ensure integrity in the process even as he hinted without offering evidence that there had been irregularities in the voting.

“We’re in the process of getting affidavits and other information that will help us to get a better understanding of what did or did not happen,” he said.

Bevin said any information turned up won’t be “followed through on” until after the recanvass — an indication he could seek further review of the election results.

Kentucky’s secretary of state, Alison Lundergan Grimes, scheduled the recanvass for Nov. 14. A recanvass is a check of the vote count to ensure the results were added correctly.

Beshear’s campaign responded with a statement repeating that he hopes Bevin honors the election results. The campaign noted that a recanvass has never led to a reversal of an election result in Kentucky.

The governor claimed Wednesday that thousands of absentee ballots may have been illegally counted. He suggested people may have improperly turned away from the polls, and said such claims need corroboration.

Kentucky inaugurates its governors in the December following an election. Beshear — the son of Kentucky’s last Democratic governor, Steve Beshear —named his top deputy in the attorney general’s office, J. Michael Brown, to lead his transition team.

Beshear said his budget proposal in early 2020 will reflect his priorities on public education, health care and infrastructure.

He promised a quick follow-through on some key campaign pledges. Those include appointing new members to the Kentucky Board of Education, rescinding Bevin’s proposed work-related requirements for some Medicaid recipients and restoring voting rights for more than 140,000 nonviolent felons who completed their sentences.

Bevin said it’s appropriate for his rival to form a transition team to be prepared to assume office if the review ends favorably for him.

Kentucky has no mandatory recount law. If Bevin decides to take that step, he would need a court’s approval for a recount.

Bevin won the 2015 GOP primary for governor by just 83 votes. A recanvass confirmed that margin. He noted wryly Tuesday night: “Would it be a Bevin race if it wasn’t a squeaker?”

But the gap is much larger this time. Bevin hinted for the first time Tuesday night there might be “irregularities” to look into but didn’t offer specifics. Asked about Bevin’s remark, Beshear said Wednesday: “I don’t know what information he’s working off of.”

While Bevin wasn’t conceding, some prominent Kentucky Republicans acknowledged that Beshear won.

Republican strategist Scott Jennings referred to Beshear as Kentucky’s next governor, wishing him “godspeed” and saying he “ran a good race” in a social media post.

Also on social media, GOP state Rep. Jason Nemes said: “Governor-elect Beshear is entitled to the democratic legitimacy that comes with loser’s consent. So let’s go through the process honorably and expeditiously and give it to him.”

The final hours of campaigning were dominated by Bevin’s endorsement from President Donald Trump at an election eve rally in Lexington. Trump had loomed large in the race as Bevin stressed his alliance with the Republican president.

But the combative Bevin struggled to overcome some self-inflicted wounds, including a running feud with teachers who opposed his efforts to revamp the state’s woefully underfunded public pension systems.

Beshear maintained his focus on “kitchen table” issues like health care and education to blunt Bevin’s efforts to hitch himself to Trump and nationalize the race.

Bevin lagged well behind the vote totals for other statewide Republican candidates, who swept Kentucky’s races for attorney general, secretary of state, auditor, treasurer and agriculture commissioner.

Trump took credit Wednesday for the near sweep, tweeting, “Our big Kentucky Rally on Monday night had a massive impact on all of the races. He claimed without citing specific polls that Bevin “picked up at least 15 points in last days, but perhaps not enough (Fake News will blame Trump!).”

Turnout in Kentucky was up by nearly 50% over the state’s 2015 governor’s race, increasing from 974,000 voters to more than 1.4 million. The number of voters Tuesday equaled turnout in Kentucky’s 2014 race for U.S. Senate, rare for an election in an odd-numbered year.

Turnout for both political parties increased over the 2015 race, but the gains were more dramatic for Beshear. Some of the biggest increases were in the counties where Beshear fared best, especially in Jefferson and Fayette counties, where Beshear won about two-thirds of the vote.

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Mike Fiers, the Astros whistleblower, says he’s received death threats

(CNN) — Mike Fiers, the Major League Baseball pitcher who was the whistleblower in the Houston Astros’ sign-stealing scheme, has said that he has received death threats.

“Whatever, I don’t care,” Fiers said to the San Francisco Chronicle on Thursday. “I’ve dealt with a lot of death threats before. It’s just another thing on my plate.”

Fiers, who currently pitches for the Oakland Athletics, said to the Chronicle that he’s not concerned about his safety but that he is always concerned about his family’s safety.

In a November 12 story in The Athletic, Fiers said the Astros had engaged in sign-stealing methods in 2017 that violated MLB’s rules. Fiers pitched for the Astros in 2017, the year Houston defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers to win the franchise’s first World Series. The Athletic’s report with Fiers’ on-the-record comments spurred MLB to launch its investigation, which found that the Astros illegally created a system that decoded and communicated the opposing teams’ pitching signs to their own players.

On Tuesday, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred was asked if the league was concerned about Fiers’ safety — and, if so, what steps would be taken, particularly when the A’s play in Houston this season.

“We will take every possible step to protect Mike Fiers wherever he’s playing, whether it’s in Houston or somewhere else,” Manfred said at a press conference in Scottsdale, Arizona.

“I want to be really clear about this. Mike, who I do not know at all, did the industry a service. I do believe that we will be a better institution when we emerge at the end of this episode, and without a Mike Fiers, we probably would’ve had a very difficult time cleaning this up. It would’ve taken longer. I think we would’ve done it eventually, but it would’ve taken a lot longer. And I have a real problem with anybody who suggests that Mike did anything other than the right thing.”

Regarding MLB protection, Fiers said Wednesday to The Athletic: “I don’t know how they would.”

He added, “I’m not asking for extra security. I’m here to play baseball and I can defend myself, if anything. We do have National League games and I’m going to have to get into the box (to hit) just like everybody else. It’s part of the game. If they decide to throw at me, then they throw at me. There’s nothing much you can do about it.”

He also said, according to The Athletic: “I’ve dealt with a lot in my life. I’ve dealt with people hating me before. I’ve dealt with a lot of life problems. It is what it is. And if someone’s going to retaliate then by hitting me with a pitch, it’s not a big deal.”

There are strong opinions on either side when it comes to Fiers. One of those against him is former Boston Red Sox star David Ortiz, who said on Thursday that Fiers looks like a “snitch” for going public on the Astros’ scandal.

“I’m mad at this guy, the pitcher that came out talking about it,” Ortiz said at Red Sox spring training at JetBlue Park in Fort Myers, Florida.

“And let me tell you why. Oh, after you make your money, after you get your ring, you decide to talk about it. Why don’t you talk about it during the season when it was going on? Why you didn’t say, ‘I don’t want to be no part of it?’ So you look like you’re a snitch.”

When asked if he might consider returning his World Series ring, Fiers said he currently has no plans to do so unless it’s mandated for the 2017 team to do that.

“I said from the beginning, ‘I’m not away from this. I was part of that team, I was one of those guys,'” Fiers said to the Chronicle. “Suspensions, fines — I’m willing to take as much punishment as they do. If they ask me to (return the ring), it’s not the end of the world.”

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