On November 3, citizens across the state made their voices heard, and voted in Matt Bevin as the 62nd Governor of Kentucky, making him only the second Republican Governor of the state since 1971. Bevin’s Lieutenant Governor, Jenean Hampton, is the first African-American to be elected to statewide-office in Kentucky’s history. They will assume office on December 8, 2015.
Bevin, who has never held political office, made his career as a businessman. He worked as a financial consultant with multiple firms, and in 1999, moved to Kentucky and began working with National Asset Management. He went on to invest in several other businesses. In 2008, Bevin took over Bevin Brothers Manufacturing Company, a business started by his great-great-great-grandfather in 1832. In 2011, Bevin was named President of the company, and went on to pay off all the company’s debt and back taxes, and also “modernized the business model and saved more than twenty jobs.” (mattbevin.com) Bevin isn’t an inexperienced newcomer when it comes to campaign politics, however. Bevin challenged current Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in the 2014 U.S. Senate Republican primary. He received 35% of the vote, to McConnell’s 60%. This may have provided valuable lessons on what to do – and what not to do – to win an election in Kentucky.
Bevin grew up in New Hampshire, living with seven others in a three-bedroom farmhouse. He attended Washington and Lee University on an ROTC scholarship, and graduated in 1989 with a degree East Asian Studies. At Washington and Lee, he traveled abroad to Japan, and is now fluent in Japanese. After graduating, Bevin was commissioned as an officer in the United States Army, eventually becoming a Captain. Bevin is married to Glenna Bevin, and has nine children, four of which they adopted from Ethiopia. He is a Southern Baptist, and started an endowment at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville for the Bevin Center for Missions Mobilization.
Perhaps the most important thing about Bevin, considering he’s about to be Governor, is his political positions. Bevin supports making Kentucky a ‘right-to-work state,’ which essentially means that Bevin believes citizens should have a right to work without being forced or compelled to join a union. He opposes same-sex marriage, and met with the now infamous Kim Davis when she was in the Carter County jail. Bevin has said that he will sign an executive order removing county clerk’s names from marriage licenses. Bevin said in an interview with The Courier-Journal that, “I am going to get rid of kynect.” Kynect is Kentucky’s health insurance exchange created with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, known colloquially as ObamaCare. Bevin has called kynect a “redundancy” and “it adds no value” (Kentucky.com) due to federal healthcare exchanges. He has also said that he will seek a waiver from the federal government to stop the expansion of Medicaid in the state because Kentucky can’t afford it. (Courier-Journal) Bevin also takes characteristic Republican stances, such as being pro-life, pro-gun, and fiscally conservative.
With the election of Bevin and Hampton, Kentucky has two new fresh faces in Frankfort, and they – along with the people who elected them – strive to make a difference. As Bevin said in his victory speech, “We need a fresh start. We will seek a future together, but we will do it as one Kentucky.”