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Things Get Weird in Kentucky

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November 7, 2019 12:21 p.m.

My read is that after the shock of defeat wears off, Kentucky Republicans are trying to move this toward a face-saving, mercy recanvass before Matt Bevin shuffles off this electoral coil and heads toward a high paid contributor gig at Fox. But as TPM Reader Greg Downs (Professor of History at UC Davis) explains, the last time Kentucky used this provision of the state constitution to overturn an election, things got pretty weird …

Appreciated your post on the insane idea floated by the head of the Kentucky state senate. As a (partial) Kentucky native and (complete) history nerd, I grew up knowing a bit about the crazy 1899 precedent and I think there are some details that may even strengthen your point.

The key thing is what followed that 1899-1900 overturning: Basically cataclysmic violence. Some of this was already brewing; the Republican and the L & N railroad had sent out word (and by legend free railroad passes) and Republicans (1000 allegedly) came down with arms to the state capitol while the inaugurated Republican governor fought with the Democratic legislature that was considering overturning the result. In late January, someone–lots of legends about whom–shot the Democratic candidate, William Goebel, who was also the boss of the state senate. In response lots of Democrats came out to the capitol armed while Goebel was treated.

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