Matt Bevan, The Republican Governor LossesTo Democratic Challenger Andy Beshear

Matt Bevan, the Republican governor of the Republican state of Kentucky, lost to Democratic challenger Andy Beshear, in an upset defeat largely due to his own unpopularity. But President Donald Trump, who had put his full weight behind him and held an election eve rally for him on Monday, will end up shouldering some of the blame, especially from critics.

The US Republicans lost a key gubernatorial race and conceded a set state legislatures in a handful of state elections that were also seen as the first test of President Donald Trump’s mounting troubles stemming from the impeachment inquiry, which has not been going too well for him.

A key witness in the ongoing inquiry reversed himself and told congressional investigators Tuesday and said he had told Ukrainians they had to give President Trump what he wanted, a public announcement of investigation of corruption, to un-block almost $400 million in military aid it was supposed to get.

Republicans also conceded the assembly and senate in Virginia for the first time in a quarter century, with Democrats now in charge of all the major state-wide offices, in a state that was once considered Republican but has turned into a swing state with a sharp rise in Democratic voters.

These reverses for the Republican party came a year after it lost control of the US House of Representatives to Democrats in the 2018 mid-term elections. Republicans are seen to be losing support in cities and in the suburbs largely on account of the divisive brand of politics popularised by Trump.

There had been no reactions from President Trump himself till late in the night. His 2020 campaign claimed credit for the president for the other victories in Kentucky and said about Bevan, the “President just about dragged Gov. Matt Bevin across the finish line, helping him run stronger than expected in what turned into a very close race at the end”.

Earlier in the day, another Trump-loyalist handed the president a fresh set of troubles. US ambassador to EU Gordon Sondland told impeachment investigators in a “supplemental declaration”, adding to an earlier close-door testimony he had indeed conveyed to an Ukrainian official that there were conditions that had to be met to get the security aid, laying out, in effect, a quid pro quo that the president and his allies have denied.

“I said that resumption of the US aid would likely not occur until Ukraine provided the public anticorruption statement that we had been discussing for many weeks,” Sondland said. He is a wealth hotelier from Oregon, who donated generously to Trump’s campaign and inauguration and was given the prestigious ambassadorship as a reward.

The Trump administration is alleged to have pushed Ukraine to order an investigation against former Vice-President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden about latter’s association with a Ukrainian company.

Sondland did not, however, connect the quid pro quo to the president, and the White House pointed it out in a reaction. He “‘did not know, (and still does not know) when, why or by whom the aid was suspended’”, a spokesperson said, adding, “He also said he ‘presumed’ there was a link to the aid—but cannot identify any solid source for that assumption”.


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