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Matt Bevin
Matt Bevin.jpg
Bevin in 2017
62nd Governor of Kentucky
In office
December 8, 2015 – December 10, 2019
Lieutenant Jenean Hampton
Preceded by Steve Beshear
Succeeded by Andy Beshear
Personal details
Matthew Griswold Bevin

(1967-01-09) January 9, 1967 (age 57)
Denver, Colorado, U.S.
Political party Republican
Glenna Bevin
(m. 1996; div. 2023)
Children 10
Education Washington and Lee University (BA)
Military service
Allegiance United States
Branch/service United States Army
Years of service 1989–1993
Rank Captain
Unit 5th Infantry Division

Matthew Griswold Bevin ( born January 9, 1967) is an American businessman and politician who served as the 62nd governor of Kentucky from 2015 to 2019 and was the third Republican elected to that office since World War II. He is currently the CEO of Neuronetrix Solutions, LLC.

Born in Denver, Colorado, and raised in Shelburne, New Hampshire, Bevin earned a bachelor's degree at Washington and Lee University in 1989, then served four years in the U.S. Army, attaining the rank of captain. He became wealthy in the investment business and moved to Louisville, Kentucky, in 1999. He was president of Bevin Brothers Manufacturing Company, one of the last remaining American bell foundries.

In 2013, Bevin announced he would challenge Kentucky's senior U.S. Senator, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, in the 2014 Republican primary. Although Bevin gained the support of various groups aligned with the Tea Party Movement, McConnell attacked him repeatedly for inconsistencies in his public statements and policy positions and defeated him by almost 25 percentage points. After announcing he would seek the governorship in 2015, Bevin emerged from a four-way Republican primary, besting his nearest competitor by 83 votes. He then defeated the state's attorney general, Democratic nominee Jack Conway, in the general election. Bevin's gubernatorial tenure was notable for the passage of "right-to-work" legislation and a law allowing carrying concealed handguns without permits. He also attempted to reverse Kentucky's Medicaid expansion and to reduce teacher pensions.

Bevin lost his re-election campaign to Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear in a close race. After requesting a recanvass—an additional check of vote totals at the county level—Bevin conceded the election on November 14, 2019. Bevin was widely criticized for pardoning hundreds of criminals in his last days in office. On December 23, 2019, it was reported that the FBI had questioned state representative Chris Harris about Bevin's pardons and on January 2, 2020, Attorney General Daniel Cameron asked the FBI to investigate the pardons.

Early life and education

Born January 9, 1967, in Denver, Colorado, Matt Bevin was the second of six children of Avery and Louise Bevin. He grew up in the rural town of Shelburne, New Hampshire, in a small farmhouse heated by wood-fired stoves. His father worked at a wood mill, and his mother worked part-time in a hospital admissions department. The family raised livestock and grew much of their own food. At age six, Bevin made money selling seeds to his neighbors. He credits his involvement in 4-H, where he served as president of the local and county chapters and as a member of the state teen council, with developing his public speaking and leadership skills. He was also involved with the county's Dairy Club.

Initially attending a small Christian school, in tenth grade Bevin enrolled as a student at Gould Academy, a private high school across the state line in Bethel, Maine. He paid his tuition through a combination of financial aid and wages from an on-campus dishwashing job and various summer jobs. After graduation, he attended Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia, on a partial ROTC scholarship. During his matriculation, he studied abroad in Japan and became fluent in Japanese. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in East Asian Studies in 1989.

After taking eight weeks off to complete a 3,800-mile (6,100 km) bicycle ride from Oregon to Florida, Bevin enlisted in the United States Army and was commissioned as a second lieutenant. In 1990, he completed a six-week Junior Officer Maintenance Course at Fort Knox in Kentucky. He later commented that the area reminded him of where he grew up, and that if he had a chance to raise a family there, he would like to do so. He was assigned to the 25th Field Artillery Regiment of the Army's 5th Mechanized Infantry Division at Fort Polk in Louisiana. During his assignment, he also trained at Fort Sill in Oklahoma, completing 40 credit hours of Central Michigan University coursework offered on base. He rose to the rank of captain – earning the Army Achievement Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Army Service Ribbon, Parachutist Badge, and Army Commendation Medal with one Oak Leaf Cluster – before joining the Army Reserve in 1993. He left the Individual Ready Reserve in 2003.

Business career

After leaving active duty in 1993, Bevin worked as a financial consultant for SEI Investments Company in Pennsylvania and Boston, then served as a vice president with Putnam Investments. In 1999, he was offered a stake in National Asset Management and moved to Kentucky to take the job. After the firm was sold in 2003, Bevin recruited a group of managers from National City Corp. to found Integrity Asset Management. The company was handling more than $1 billion in investments when Bevin sold it to Munder Capital Management of Michigan in 2011.

In 2008, Bevin took over management of the struggling Bevin Brothers Manufacturing Company of East Hampton, Connecticut. Founded in 1832 by Bevin's great-great-great-grandfather and remaining in the family continuously since, Bevin Bros. is the last American company that exclusively manufactures bells. Collectively, the Bevins decided that Matt was the only family member with the business acumen and financial wherewithal to keep the company solvent. There are indications that Bevin became the company's president in 2008, though he says it was in 2011. By 2012, the company's delinquent taxes had been paid.

A lightning strike sparked a fire that destroyed the factory on May 27, 2012. Although he carried little more than liability insurance on the business and his losses were compounded by looters who stole 4,500 bells, Bevin vowed to rebuild, telling the Hartford Courant, "I'm a Bevin, and Bevins make bells." In late June 2012, Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy announced that Bevin Brothers would receive $100,000 in grants from the state's Small Business Express program to assist in the rebuilding effort. Flanked by Senator Richard Blumenthal, Bevin announced in July 2012 that he would sell souvenirs including T-shirts, and bells and bricks salvaged from the gutted factory, to raise additional funds for rebuilding. Working from a temporary location, the company resumed limited production in September 2012.

Bevin is a partner at Waycross Partners, an investment management firm in Louisville, Kentucky.

In November 2022, Bevin was named the chief executive officer of Neuronetrix Solutions, LLC.

Political campaigns

Bevin said that in 2011, Mitch McConnell recruited him to challenge incumbent Democrat John Yarmuth to represent Kentucky's 3rd congressional district in 2012. McConnell's chief of staff said Bevin requested the meeting and McConnell never asked Bevin to enter the race. Ultimately, Bevin and his advisors decided that legislative redistricting had made Yarmuth's district unwinnable for a Republican, and Bevin chose not to run.

2014 U.S. Senate campaign

On July 24, 2013, Bevin announced that he would challenge McConnell, the Senate Minority Leader and a five-term incumbent, in the 2014 Republican primary because he did not believe that McConnell was conservative enough. Despite a Wenzel Strategies poll immediately following Bevin's announcement that showed him polling only 19.9% to McConnell's 58.9%, the National Journal listed McConnell number nine on its list of ten lawmakers who could lose a primary election in 2014.

Result and aftermath

On election day, Bevin garnered 125,759 votes – 35.4% of the vote – to McConnell's 213,666 votes (60.2%); the remaining votes were scattered among three lower-profile candidates. In his concession speech, Bevin opined "there is zero chance that the solutions for what ails us is going to come from the Democratic Party", but did not endorse McConnell. He appeared onstage with McConnell on a few occasions during the general election campaign but steadfastly refused to explicitly endorse him. During his remarks at an October 29 Restore America rally, Bevin said "I say with all due respect to a lot of folks who might say otherwise, sometimes we might need to get over it and move on. We have new races to run and new decisions to make. There is too much at stake." Asked if the comment amounted to an endorsement of McConnell, Bevin told reporters, "You've got ears." McConnell defeated Grimes in the general election, and Bevin eventually told reporters that he voted for McConnell.

2015 gubernatorial primary

Bevin speaking in an AARP voter guide video, September 2015

In June 2014, WKMS reported that Bevin had remained politically active after his defeat by McConnell, and an email to his followers calling on Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear, a Democrat, to denounce new carbon regulations issued by the EPA fueled speculation that Bevin would seek the Republican gubernatorial nomination in 2015. The station also cited an anonymous source that said Bevin would campaign for Rand Paul's Senate seat in 2016 if Paul's expected presidential bid kept him from running for re-election. An August 2014 survey by Public Policy Polling showed that 25% of Republicans wanted Bevin to be the party's gubernatorial nominee, ahead of declared candidates James Comer (20%) and Hal Heiner (18%).

On January 27, 2015, the last day for candidates to file, Bevin announced he would seek the Republican nomination for governor. During his announcement, he introduced his running mate, Jenean Hampton, a Tea Party activist who lost her bid to unseat State Representative Jody Richards the previous year. Bevin joined a field that included Commissioner of Agriculture James Comer, former Louisville Councilman Hal Heiner, and former Kentucky Supreme Court Justice Will T. Scott. The National Journal predicted that Bevin would draw support away from Comer, the early front-runner, who had been appealing to Tea Party groups and already secured Congressman Massie's endorsement. The crowded primary was also projected to damage the Republican nominee's chances in the general election, since Attorney General Jack Conway was the only major Democratic candidate, allowing him to conserve resources for the general election. McConnell allies also predicted that Bevin's refusal to endorse McConnell would hurt him with primary voters.

Result and aftermath

Results of 2015 Kentucky gubernatorial primary
Candidate Votes Percentage
Matt Bevin 70,479 32.9%
James Comer 70,396 32.8%
Hal Heiner 57,948 27.1%
Will Scott 15,364 7.2%
Total 214,187 100.0%

On election night, May 19, the Associated Press reported that Bevin received 70,479 votes, just 83 more than Comer; Heiner garnered 57,948 and Scott received 15,364. At approximately 10:00 pm (EDT) that night, Comer told his supporters, "I owe it to our supporters to ask for a canvass to this election." The recanvass showed that Bevin remained 83 votes ahead, and Comer conceded the nomination to Bevin, foregoing a full recount.

2015 gubernatorial general election

In the general election, Bevin faced state Attorney General Jack Conway, marking the first gubernatorial race in state history featuring two candidates from Louisville, the state's largest city. The Kentucky Democratic Party attempted to play up the fractures in the Republican Party over Bevin's candidacy, launching a web site featuring fellow Republicans' criticisms of Bevin, drawn mostly from his primary race against McConnell. Bevin responded with a web site tying Conway to President Barack Obama, who was very unpopular in Kentucky, saying that Conway would support environmental regulations that harm the coal industry and support the Affordable Care Act, which was also unpopular in the state, despite its nationally praised insurance exchange. McConnell endorsed Bevin.


On August 10, Fark founder Drew Curtis submitted the requisite petition signatures to appear on the gubernatorial ballot as an Independent candidate with his wife, Heather, as his running mate. In early October, the first poll released after Curtis entered the field showed Conway leading with 42 percent support among likely voters, compared to Bevin's 37 percent and Curtis' 7 percent. Fifteen percent of those polled were undecided. Conway's five-percentage-point margin held up a month later; just a week before the election, a Bluegrass poll showed 45 percent support for Conway, 40 percent for Bevin, and 6 percent for Curtis. The Lexington Herald-Leader noted that Bevin had trailed in every publicly released poll, leading political analyst Stephen Voss to conclude, on the eve of the election, that "There's little doubt at this point that, based on the polling methodology these folks use, Conway is ahead." Voss warned, however, that a combination of systematic polling error and late voter decision making could prove the polling wrong.

On November 3, Bevin garnered 511,771 votes (53%) to Conway's 426,944 (44%) and Curtis' 35,629 (3%). Bevin was only the third Republican elected governor of Kentucky since World War II, and running mate Jenean Hampton became the first African-American elected to any statewide office in Kentucky. Conway had counted on strong support from the state's urban areas, but managed smaller-than-expected margins in Jefferson, Fayette, and Franklin counties – home to Louisville, Lexington, and Frankfort, respectively – while turnout on Bevin's behalf was strong in more traditionally Republican rural areas. Ultimately, Conway carried only 14 of Kentucky's 120 counties, and observers wrote that the loss likely ended his political career. Republicans also won the races for treasurer, auditor, and agricultural commissioner. Analyst Ronnie Ellis speculated that the Republicans' victories set the stage for the party to take control of the state House of Representatives in the November 2016 elections. With an eight-seat majority, the Kentucky House was the last legislative body in the South controlled by Democrats.

2019 gubernatorial election

On June 1, 2018, McConnell urged Bevin to run for reelection, and on January 25, 2019, Bevin announced that he would run for a second term, choosing State Senator Ralph Alvarado as his running mate over current Lieutenant Governor Jenean Hampton. Bevin was renominated by the Republican Party of Kentucky in a primary election on May 21, 2019, as its candidate for governor in 2019, while Kentucky's outgoing Attorney General Andy Beshear, son of Bevin's predecessor Steve Beshear, won the Democratic nomination.

Bevin narrowly lost his re-election campaign to Beshear. Bevin refused to concede, citing what he called "irregularities" and referring to a "process"; court approval would be needed for a full recount, and Kentucky's election recount law does not appear to apply for gubernatorial elections. Bevin claimed, without evidence, that "thousands of absentee ballots that were illegally counted", people were "incorrectly turned away" at the polls, "a number of [voting] machines that didn't work properly", and ballots were stored in open boxes. Fellow Republican lawmakers in Kentucky expressed skepticism of Bevin's claims, and asked him to substantiate the claims or concede.

On November 6, Bevin asked for a recanvass, which involves a review of votes rather than a recount; the recanvass took place on November 14. According to the Kentucky state constitution, a governor must be sworn in on the December 10 following the election. Kentucky's outgoing Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes declared Beshear the winner. On November 6, Beshear hired J. Michael Brown to lead his transition team. Should a candidate contest the election results, the state legislature would determine the winner after hearing a report from a randomly selected 11-member committee from the House (8) and Senate (3). This process, which is enforced through the Goebel Election Law, has only been used once, during the 1899 Kentucky gubernatorial election. However, Kentucky Senate President Robert Stivers and other Republican members of the Kentucky state legislature expressed skepticism of Bevin's voter fraud claim and urged Bevin on November 7 to concede if the recanvass does not go in his favor. On November 11, 2019, Republican U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell announced that "all indications are" Beshear will be the next Governor of Kentucky. Bevin conceded the gubernatorial race on November 14, 2019.

Governor of Kentucky

Matt Bevin (24510091752)
Bevin in 2016 speaking in Nashua, New Hampshire

After a series of terror attacks in Paris – for which the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) claimed responsibility – Bevin announced that, following his inauguration, he would join 25 other U.S. governors in refusing any Syrian refugees seeking to relocate to their respective states "until we can better determine the full extent of any risks to our citizens." In response, Lexington Herald-Leader political cartoonist Joel Pett published a cartoon depicting Bevin hiding under his desk, his floor strewn with newspapers featuring stories about the Paris attacks, with an aide telling him, "Sir, they're not terrorists.... they're your own adopted kids!", a reference to Bevin's four children adopted from Ethiopia. Bevin responded via Twitter: "The tone of racial intolerance being struck by the @HeraldLeader has no place in Kentucky and won't be tolerated by our administration."

Bevin was sworn into a four-year term as Governor of Kentucky on December 8, 2015. Observers from both parties praised Bevin's selection of experienced, relatively moderate individuals for his cabinet, including his former rival, Hal Heiner, as Secretary of the Education and Workforce Cabinet and former University of Kentucky football standout Derrick Ramsey as his Secretary of Labor. The appointments of two Democratic state representatives – John Tilley as Secretary of the Justice and Public Safety Cabinet and Tanya Pullin to a state judgeship – reduced the party's majority in the House and set up special elections that gave Republicans a chance to win their seats from Democrats. Bevin set the dates of the special elections to fill the seats of Tilley and Pullin, as well as those formerly held by newly elected Auditor Mike Harmon and newly elected Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles, for March 8, 2016. Democratic representatives Denver Butler and Jim Gooch also switched their party affiliation to Republican in December, reducing the Democratic majority to 50–46 for the beginning of the first General Assembly of Bevin's governorship, and giving Republicans a chance to evenly split the chamber's 100 seats by sweeping the special elections. Republicans held only Harmon's seat, giving Democrats a 53–47 advantage in the House for the remainder of the session.

In a series of December 2015 executive orders, Bevin removed the names of county clerks from state marriage licenses, as well as reversed orders by Beshear that restored voting rights for non-violent felons who had completed their sentences and raised the minimum wage for some state workers to $10.10 per hour.

In December 2015, Bevin announced that the state would not renew an advertising contract for kynect. In January 2016, he notified federal authorities that he plans to dismantle kynect by the end of 2016 and charged Mark Birdwhistell, formerly Secretary of Health under Governor Fletcher, with designing a system to replace kynect. Although the Beshear administration suggested the shutdown would cost the state $23 million, Bevin, citing a Deloitte study, promised it would be in the "small single digits [of millions]".

Bevin declared both 2016 and 2017 the Year of the Bible in Kentucky.

In July 2018, after a federal judge rejected his plan to overhaul the program, Bevin cut Medicaid dental and vision coverage for up to 460,000 Kentuckians. The cuts were only supposed to affect able-bodied adults, but shortly after the cuts were implemented, the state Medicaid computer system showed that some children, disabled adults and pregnant women had lost coverage. Dentists said that they had to turn children away, including some with significant dental decay.

Attorney General Andy Beshear sued governor Bevin several times over what he argued was the governor's abuse of executive powers, during Beshear's tenure as attorney general and while he was campaigning against Bevin for governor. While he prevailed in a number of cases, Beshear also lost in a number of cases. Bevin said Beshear: "never sues on behalf of the people of Kentucky. He does it on behalf of his own political career ..."

Bevin's tenure as governor was contentious. As of May 2016, he had one of the lowest approval ratings among United States governors. His disapproval rating was 51% in late 2018. In January 2019, Morning Consult described Bevin as the "least popular governor up for re-election in 2019" and ranked him number six among the least popular governors in the nation. According to an April 2019 poll, Bevin was the least popular Governor in the United States, with a 52% disapproval rating versus a 33% approval rating. In July 2019, the National Journal placed Bevin second in its list of governor seats most likely to switch parties, and reported "his unpopularity coupled with party infighting make(s) him vulnerable in the deep-red state." In November 2019, Bevin was defeated by Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear.

Bevin issued many controversial pardons during his tenure. These pardons were met with outrage from some families of the victims, and were scrutinized by some state legislators. On December 13, 2019, President of the Kentucky Senate Robert Stivers–speaking for the Republican majority–condemned the pardons, called on the U.S. Attorneys Office to investigate them for potential violations of the Hobbs Act, and asked Attorney General-elect Daniel Cameron to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate Bevin's actions.

Personal life

While stationed at Fort Polk, Bevin went on a blind date with his future wife, Glenna. At the time, Glenna was a divorced single mother of a 5-year-old daughter from her first marriage. The two married in 1996 and had five additional children. After Glenna's remarriage, her daughter, Brittiney, took her adoptive father's last name. In 2003, 17-year-old Brittiney was killed in a car accident near the family's home. In memory of their daughter, the Bevins created Brittiney's Wish, a non-profit organization that funds domestic and international mission trips for high school students, and started an endowment that allowed Louisville's Southern Baptist Theological Seminary to open its Bevin Center for Missions Mobilization in 2012.

In 2011, Bevin took his children out of school for a year for a 26,000-mile (42,000 km) tour of the United States, visiting sites of educational or historical interest, including the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee, where Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated and the Topeka, Kansas, schoolhouse at the center of the landmark Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court decision. After their application to adopt a daughter from Kentucky's foster care system was denied because they already had five children, the Bevins adopted four children – between the ages of 2 and 10 – from Ethiopia in June 2012. By 2015, Bevin said all of his children were homeschooled. To avoid disruptions in the children's schooling, the Bevins opted not to move into the Kentucky Governor's Mansion immediately after Bevin's election as governor in November 2015, instead waiting until after the school year ended in August 2016. The eleven-member Bevin family is the largest to inhabit the mansion since it was constructed in 1914. The family also retains their pre-election home in Louisville.

The Bevins attended Southeast Christian Church in Louisville. After his election as governor, he announced he would hold an invitation-only inaugural worship service at Frankfort's Buck Run Baptist Church, but the service was moved to the Frankfort Convention Center and the invitation requirement was dropped following an "overwhelming response from the public".

In March 2019, Bevin said in an interview that he deliberately exposed all nine of his children to chickenpox so they would "catch the disease and become immune."

In May 2023, Glenna Bevin filed for divorce. The divorce petition stated the marriage was "irretrievably broken" and that the couple had been separated for more than a year.

Electoral history

U.S. Senate Republican primary election in Kentucky, 2014
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Mitch McConnell (incumbent) 213,753 60.19
Republican Matt Bevin 125,787 35.42
Republican Shawna Sterling 7,214 2.03
Republican Chris Payne 5,338 1.50
Republican Brad Copas 3,024 0.85
Kentucky Governor Republican Primary Election, 2015
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Matt Bevin 70,480 32.90
Republican James Comer 70,397 32.87
Republican Hal Heiner 57,951 27.06
Republican Will T. Scott 15,365 7.17
Kentucky gubernatorial election, 2015
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Republican Matt Bevin 511,374 52.52% +17.23%
Democratic Jack Conway 426,620 43.82% -11.90%
Independent Drew Curtis 35,597 3.66% N/A
Total votes 973,692 100.0% N/A
Republican gain from Democratic
Kentucky Governor Republican Primary Election, 2019
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Matt Bevin (incumbent) 136,060 52.4%
Republican Robert Goforth 101,343 39.0%
Republican Ike Lawrence 14,030 5.7%
Republican Will Scott 8,412 3.2%
Kentucky gubernatorial election, 2019
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic Andy Beshear 709,577 49.20% +5.38%
Republican Matt Bevin (incumbent) 704,388 48.83% -3.72%
Libertarian John Hicks 28,425 1.97% N/A
Total votes 1,442,390 100.0% N/A
Democratic gain from Republican

See also

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