Democrats claim victory in key Virginia and Kentucky elections

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Democrat Andy Beshear has declared victory in the race to be Kentucky's governorImage copyright
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Democrat Andy Beshear has declared victory in the race to be Kentucky’s governor

US Democrats have made gains in key state elections, in what is seen as a blow to President Donald Trump.

Democrat Andy Beshear claimed victory in Kentucky’s governor vote, after a tight race in the conservative-leaning state.

Meanwhile, Democrats seized full control of the legislature in Virginia for the first time in over 20 years.

The results are being viewed as a gauge of the political mood ahead of next year’s presidential election.

However, Republicans managed to hold onto power in the Mississippi governor vote, following a closely-fought race.

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In Kentucky, Mr Beshear claimed victory over incumbent Republican governor Matt Bevin after final results gave him a lead of 0.4%.

Mr Bevin, 52, has reportedly said he will not concede.

However, Mr Beshear, a 41-year-old attorney general whose father was a former governor of the state, said: “We will be ready for that first day in office and I look forward to it.”

The loss will be seen as a setback for Mr Trump, who attempted to galvanise support for Mr Bevin at a campaign rally in Kentucky on Monday night.

In a speech to thousands of supporters, Mr Trump said a loss for Mr Bevin would be characterised as “the greatest defeat in the history of the world” by his critics.

Mr Trump, who won Kentucky in the 2016 presidential election, said Mr Beshear was “too extreme and too dangerous” to govern the state.

Meanwhile, in Virginia, Democrats overturned Republican majorities in both chambers of the state legislature.

Virginia – which was once comfortably Republican and recently had been considered a swing state – is now solidly Democratic blue, the BBC’s North America reporter Anthony Zurcher reports.

Democrats there will now be able to draw legislative district lines for the coming decade that consolidate their power, and pass new gun-control restrictions and minimum-wage laws, our correspondent adds.

Although the presidential election is more than a year away, critics may seize on Tuesday’s results as a reflection of Mr Trump’s popularity among voters as he faces an impeachment inquiry.

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