Matt Bevin

Candidates for Kentucky governor squared off at a forum hosted by the Kentucky Farm Bureau Thursday, the first public appearance in which the two men directly responded to one another.

The most heated exchange occurred when Conway accused Bevin of wanting to kick 500,000 people off of health insurance, calling him “callous.”

“If we can’t afford something we can potentially scale back but I am not going to kick a half million people off of health insurance on day one," said Conway

Bevin said he wouldn’t kick people off insurance, but rather do away with the state-run health insurance exchange, Kynect, and move recipients onto the federal exchange. He also stated he would eliminate the state’s expansion of Medicaid.

More than 521,000 people signed up for Kynect in the first year of enrollment—and about two-thirds of those enrolled through the Medicaid expansion.

Abbey Oldham

U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell will headline a Republican fundraising event in late August for gubernatorial candidate Matt Bevin, who last year launched a primary challenge against the longtime senator.

The event will be hosted by Alliance Coal CEO Joe Craft and former U.N. Ambassador Kelly Knight, both of whom chaired the Kentucky fundraising committee for Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign.

McConnell, Craft and Knight’s presence at the event shows a measure of unity among establishment Republicans, who some had speculated wouldn’t aid Bevin after last year’s contentious GOP Senate primary.

Bevin was the benefactor of infighting between two GOP establishment candidates during the primary. Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner James Comer and Louisville businessman sparred during the race, which led to a narrow Bevin victory and speculations about a fractured Republican party.

But Bevin and McConnell have repeatedly assured Kentuckians that the GOP is united around Bevin, despite snubs between the two men after McConnell trounced Bevin in last year’s primary last year.

In an invitation sent out on Tuesday morning, attendees are asked to donate $1,000 to Bevin’s campaign for the general election as well as $1,000 for his primary campaign. According to June campaign finance records, Bevin still had almost $111,000 in outstanding debts for the primary, which was in May.

WFPL News

Campaign finance records filed last week reveal a late burst of six-figure donations to James Comer in his unsuccessful bid for the Republican nomination for Kentucky governor last month, with similar sums going to a political organization aiming to defeat the eventual primary winner, Matt Bevin.

These latest records shed light on so-called “unauthorized campaign committees,” which can raise and spend money to support or oppose candidates — without the authorization of candidates themselves. Unlike personal donations that are capped at $1,000 in Kentucky, the committees can donate as much as they’d like.

According to candidates’ reports filed with the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance, two of these committees spent $743,250 during the period May 6-June 18, about half for Comer, half against Bevin.

Last month Bevin defeated Comer by 83 votes to win the Republican nomination to oppose Democrat Jack Conway in the Nov. 3 election for governor. A millionaire businessman from Louisville, Bevin received no support from unauthorized committees in the May-June reporting period.

omer’s 11th-hour boost came from Kentuckians for Growth, Opportunity & Prosperity, a committee headed by investment adviser and Republican fundraiser Richard Knock of Union, in Northern Kentucky. It gave Comer $315,000, mostly in the week before the primary. The money helped Comer pay for more than $300,000 in TV ads in May.

Kentucky’s coal industry still has political influence in the state, even as production declines. That’s illustrated by a closed-door debate hosted by the industry earlier this month. Both of Kentucky’s gubernatorial candidates were there.

The Coal & Investment Leadership Forum was part of a golf and fly fishing retreat attended by industry executives in Virginia. As first reported by the Lexington Herald-Leader, candidates Jack Conway and Matt Bevin answered questions posed by Kentucky Coal Association president Bill Bissett and rebutted one another.

Nick Surgey of the Center for Media and Democracy obtained a copy of an invitation to the retreat. He says the event boasted about time for one-on-one conversations between politicians, investors and coal executives. “So there’s a lot of social time, a lot of time for potential candidates and potential major funders of campaigns to be talking one on one and presumably to be making promises about what they would do to support the coal industry.” he said.

Presidential candidate Jeb Bush also spoke at the retreat, which invitees paid $7,500 to attend.

McConnell Will Endorse GOP Nominee for Governor

May 20, 2015
WKU PBS

U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell said he will endorse Kentucky's Republican nominee for governor once the results are official.

Bevin leads state Agriculture Commissioner James Comer by 83 votes out of the more than 214,000 ballots cast. Comer said he plans to ask state election officials to review the results.

McConnell and Bevin went head to head in last year's Republican primary for Senate, one of the few times McConnell has had meaningful opposition in a primary during his 30-year Senate career. McConnell easily defeated Bevin after a contentious campaign. Bevin refused to endorse McConnell publicly after the race, although he did urge Republicans to vote against Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes in the general election.

McConnell defeated Grimes and is now the majority leader of the U.S. Senate.

After saying he would not comment on allegations that James Comer abused his college girlfriend, Republican candidate for governor Hal Heiner has a new TV ad that criticizes Comer and Matt Bevin for not protecting the woman.

The 30 second ad says Comer and fellow candidate Matt Bevin have accused Marilyn Thomas and her friends of lying and taking payoffs for their stories. Heiner urges voters to reject this kind of politics and elect someone with "Christian values."

The ad comes after a nonprofit group supporting Comer paid for a TV ad accusing Heiner of "gutter politics" for promoting the abuse allegations. Heiner apologized to Comer's campaign after the Lexington Herald Leader published emails showing Heiner's campaign had communicated with a blogger that has pushed the allegations for months in social media.

Candidates are escalating their attacks now that the election is days away and public polls show a three way tie.

Abbey Oldham

Matt Bevin has done laps around Kentucky in a messy black suburban, searching for his big political break.

The search started last year with an unsuccessful  bid for the Republican U.S. Senate nomination. It started anew this year with a campaign to be the party’s gubernatorial nominee.

“This is the campaign-mobile in all its splendor,” Bevin said during an interview in his SUV crammed with the candidate’s belongings.

“I’ve got suits for later tonight and stuff I’ve got signs and all kinds of things. This is where it’s at. This thing’s got 186,000-plus miles on it and a lot of lovin’—this is the family truckster.”

After all those miles, Bevin is hoping that big break finally come as the presumed Republican front-runners—former Louisville Metro Councilman Hal Heiner and Agriculture Commissioner James Comer—duke it out in a nasty political fight.

Alix Mattingly, WFPL

Louisville businessman Matt Bevin and Agriculture Commissioner James Comer tag-teamed attacks against former Louisville Metro Councilman Hal Heiner on Wednesday during a debate of Republican gubernatorial candidates.

The debate hosted, by the radio program Kentucky Sports Radio, came less than two weeks before the May 19 primary and days after The Courier-Journal published an accusation of domestic abuse against Comer.

The candidates accused Heiner of surrounding himself with operatives who levy attacks against his opponents while Heiner himself avoids personal responsibility.

“Hal Heiner has surrounded himself with the surliest and sorriest group of people who have smeared and assassinated other people in this race, and he can sit here and tell people that he has said nothing but positive things,” Bevin said during the debate.

The debate proved to be the most heated exchange between the candidates so far. This was in part because moderator Matt Jones—known best for his adamant support of Kentucky Wildcats athletics—pressed candidates on issues surrounding allegations that Comer abused his college girlfriend.

Republican candidates for Kentucky governor say presumptive Democratic nominee Jack Conway isn’t fit to serve because he would not fight a challenge to the state’s same sex marriage ban.

Conway refused to defend the ban last year, saying the law is discriminatory. Gov. Steve Beshear hired outside counsel to defend the law.

Agriculture Commissioner James Comer, one of four Republicans seeking the party’s gubernatorial nomination, said not wanting to defend a law shouldn’t matter.

“It doesn’t matter if you agree with the constitution or not. When you take that oath to uphold the constitution, you represent the people of Kentucky,” Comer said.

Louisville businessman and Republican frontrunner Hal Heiner said that Conway should have been required to defend the constitutional amendment.

Hal Heiner campaign

Hal Heiner leads other Republican candidates for this year’s gubernatorial election, according to a new poll released Tuesday.

The former Louisville Metro Council member leads with 28 percent of the vote in a poll conducted by SurveyUSA for The Courier-Journal, WHAS, the Lexington Herald-Leader and WKYT. The poll surveyed 1,917 registered voters.

Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner James Comer and Matt Bevin tied for second with 20 percent of the vote. Bevin unsuccessfully ran last year as a tea party candidate in the Republican Senate primary. He was defeated by now-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Heiner not only lead in the polls. According to financial disclosures, Heiner’s campaign is also millions of dollars ahead of the other GOP candidates.

According to his latest disclosure, Heiner has almost $3.5 million in his campaign coffers. So far, Heiner has donated more than $4 million of his own money to his campaign.

Greg Blair, Heiner’s new campaign spokesman,, said money and airtime is not what’s driving these numbers, though.

“I don’t think anyone has worked harder than Hal Heiner to get out and talk to people and listen to people and hear what they are concerned about,” Blair said.

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