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Beshear calls for 'smooth transition' as GOP incumbent refuses to concede

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By Lauren Egan  with NBC News Politics
Image: Democratic gubernatorial candidate and Kentucky Attorney General And
"We are moving on with our transition today," Beshear said Wednesday, despite Bevin's refusal to concede.   -   Copyright  Bryan Woolston AP

WASHINGTON — Democrat Andy Beshear called for unity and a "smooth transition" Wednesday after apparently defeating incumbent Republican Gov. Matt Bevin in an upset victory in the gubernatorial race Tuesday night.

"Last night the election ended. It ended and it's time to move forward with a smooth transition," Beshear, Kentucky's attorney general, said at a press conference. "This isn't about politics anymore. That ended last night. This is about being the best governor I can be for Kentucky."

Bevin refused to concede Tuesday night, claiming in a speech to his supporters that "there have been more than a few irregularities," though he did not provide details of any specific allegations.

"I don't know what information he's working off of," Beshear said when asked by reporters if he was concerned about Bevin's claim. "We're confident in the outcome of the election, but today is about moving forward... no one else is going to cast a vote, that ended last night."

Beshear insisted that Bevin's refusal to concede would not impact his ability to govern. "We are moving on with our transition today," he said.

He also noted that the next governor would need to be sworn in by early December, and expressed hope that Bevin would come around.

"I believe that Governor Bevin will help in that transition," Beshear said. "I believe that he is going to do the right thing and make sure we are ready to go on day one."

Beshear said he had not spoken with Bevin.

With 99 percent of precincts reporting, Beshear led Bevin by roughly 5,150 votes. Under Kentucky law, candidates can request a recount but they have to pay for it.

Bevin, a deeply unpopular governor, campaigned with President Donald Trump leading up to the election. At a rally in Lexington on Monday night, Trump told attendees that a Bevin loss would be viewed as Trump having suffered "the greatest defeat in the history of the world" and urged supporters not to "let that happen to me!"

But Beshear downplayed national implications of his narrow win.

"I'm not worried about what national pundits or national Democrats are saying," he said. "We are going to start bringing Kentucky together by changing the tone. No more us versus them," he added, promising that he would pick Republicans and independents to serve in his cabinet.