With a little more than a month to go before Kentucky’s primary, gubernatorial candidates are rolling out the attacks and ramping the rhetoric.
This week, a super PAC tied to Republican front runner Hal Heiner released television commercials accusing opposing candidates of not being conservative enough because they take handouts from the government.
One commercial claimed that Agriculture Commissioner James Comer advocated against government funded farm subsidies, but receives $87,000 in subsidies for his own farms.
At a debate Wednesday, Comer fired back, accusing Heiner of being hypocritical by not denouncing the ad.
“What he didn’t mention in the ad is that even though he has a very small farm, he has received farm subsidies, in fact he’s received significantly more farm subsidies than I have per acre,” Comer said.
The ad was sponsored by Citizens for a Sound Government, which the Courier-Journal reports, supports Heiner and will spend about $640,000 on TV ads over the next two weeks.
During the Louisville Forum debate, Heiner refused to renounce the ads and denied any connection with them.
“Well Jamie, those are not my ads. I want to be judged in this campaign by what I say. I want to be judged by what the Heiner-Crosby campaign, the policy ideas and those ideas that we put out across Kentucky as we’ve traveled over the last 57 months,” Heiner said.
The super PAC Citizens for a Sound Government, is a 501(c) (4) organization, which means its donors can remain anonymous.
The group also levied an attack against candidate Matt Bevin, a Louisville businessman who was soundly defeated by U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell in last year’s senate race.
A different commercial that aired yesterday rehashed accusations that Bevin failed to pay taxes on a home in Maine and a business in Connecticut while receiving a $100,000 government loan for that business.
Bevin called for Heiner to reject the ads, but Heiner stayed silent on the issue.
“Will you publicly repudiate those if you have nothing to do with them?” Bevin asked Heiner. “You have a chance in front of everybody right now to make that clear.”
The Courier-Journal reported that those attacks were debunked last year.
A political organization supporting Commissioner Comer began airing ads last week and will reportedly $475,000 in air time over the next two weeks.
The Bluegrass Poll conducted in March, reported that Heiner was leading the race early on.
The Republican primary election is May 19th.