The hotly contested governor’s race in Kentucky was too close to call Tuesday night, with Democratic Attorney General Andy Beshear holding a narrow lead – and declaring victory – over Republican Gov. Matt Bevin.

With 100 percent of precincts reporting, Beshear had a lead of 4,658 votes out of more than 1.4 million counted, or a margin of 0.3 percentage points.

The bitter rivals gave competing speeches in which Beshear claimed victory while Bevin refused to concede.

“My expectation is that he (Bevin) will honor the election that was held tonight,” Beshear said. “That he will help us make this transition. And I’ll tell you what, we will be ready for that first day in office, and I look forward to it.”

Bevin called it a “close, close race” and said he wasn’t conceding “by any stretch.”

“We want the process to be followed, and there is a process,” he said.

Kentucky Governor and Republican gubernatorial candidate Matt Bevin signs in to receive his ballot to cast his ballot in the state's general election in Louisville, Ky., Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2019. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)
Kentucky Governor and Republican gubernatorial candidate Matt Bevin signs in to receive his ballot to cast his ballot in the state’s general election in Louisville, Ky., Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2019. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)

Bevin hinted that there might be “irregularities” to look into but didn’t offer specifics.

There is no mandatory recount law in Kentucky. Bevin may request counties recanvass their results, which is not a recount, but rather a check of the vote count to ensure the results were added correctly. Bevin would need to seek and win a court’s approval for a recount.

The final hours of campaigning were overshadowed by the endorsement Bevin received from President Donald Trump as the incumbent tried to overcome a tenacious challenger bearing a well-known last name. Beshear is the son of Kentucky’s last Democratic governor, Steve Beshear.

Trump’s election eve rally at Rupp Arena in Lexington was meant to give Bevin a last-minute boost.

The political grudge match between Bevin and Beshear stretched into Tuesday night.

Beshear dominated in the state’s urban areas in Louisville and Lexington and won some traditionally Republican suburban counties in the state’s northernmost tip, just south of Cincinnati, to offset Bevin’s strength in rural areas.

Kentucky Attorney General and Democratic Gubernatorial candidate Andy Beshear, and his son Will, 10, depart the Knights of Columbus polling location Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2019, in Louisville, Ky. Kentucky's voters are now deciding the political grudge match between Republican Gov. Matt Bevin and Beshear. (AP Photo/Bryan Woolston)
Kentucky Attorney General and Democratic Gubernatorial candidate Andy Beshear, and his son Will, 10, depart the Knights of Columbus polling location Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2019, in Louisville, Ky. Kentucky’s voters are now deciding the political grudge match between Republican Gov. Matt Bevin and Beshear. (AP Photo/Bryan Woolston)

Beshear maintained his focus throughout the race on “kitchen table” issues like health care and education to blunt Bevin’s efforts to hitch himself to Trump and nationalize the race. He exploited Bevin’s feud with teachers over pensions and education issues, which resonated with voters.

The result could reverberate far beyond Kentucky. The fierce contest was being watched closely for early signs of how the increasingly partisan impeachment furor in Washington might affect Trump and other Republican incumbents in 2020. Among those with an especially keen interest: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who’s on the ballot himself next year in Kentucky.

Lauren Payne, from left, Bella Karn, Victoria Garrard, Ella Bratcher and Connor Satterly encourage passing motorists to vote while standing on the sidewalk on W. Parrish Avenue, Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2019, in Owensboro, Ky. The five, all with the Wendell H. Ford Statesmanship Academy, and, other members of the organization, stood with signs at busy intersections in the city throughout election day. (Greg Eans/The Messenger-Inquirer via AP)
Lauren Payne, from left, Bella Karn, Victoria Garrard, Ella Bratcher and Connor Satterly encourage passing motorists to vote while standing on the sidewalk on W. Parrish Avenue, Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2019, in Owensboro, Ky. The five, all with the Wendell H. Ford Statesmanship Academy, and, other members of the organization, stood with signs at busy intersections in the city throughout election day. (Greg Eans/The Messenger-Inquirer via AP)
Kentucky Governor and Republican gubernatorial candidate Matt Bevin speaks with reporters after casting his ballot in the state's general elections in Louisville, Ky., Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2019. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)
Kentucky Governor and Republican gubernatorial candidate Matt Bevin speaks with reporters after casting his ballot in the state’s general elections in Louisville, Ky., Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2019. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)
Kentucky Governor and Republican gubernatorial candidate Matt Bevin, center, and his wife Glenna Bevin are directed by a poll worker where they are to go to get their ballots for the state's general election in Louisville, Ky., Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2019. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)
Kentucky Governor and Republican gubernatorial candidate Matt Bevin, center, and his wife Glenna Bevin are directed by a poll worker where they are to go to get their ballots for the state’s general election in Louisville, Ky., Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2019. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)

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