Matt Bevin

A GOP surge swept the state during Tuesday's election, winning Republicans the hard-fought race for Governor and ousting the incumbent Democratic state auditor:

GOVERNOR: Businessman Matt Bevin led the Republican takeover of Kentucky politics, winning election as only the second GOP governor in four decades. Bevin defeated Democrat Jack Conway with 52 percent of the vote. Independent Drew Curtis was a distant third with just more than 3 percent. Bevin cast himself as an outsider, in both government and politics. The 48-year-old investment manager has never held public office. Bevin's campaign was mostly self-funded, and he preferred to speak to small gatherings of voters instead of courting influential donors. His running mate, Jenean Hampton, is a retired Air Force officer who moved to Kentucky from Detroit. Her only political experience is a lopsided loss to the former speaker of the Kentucky House of Representatives in 2014. Now, Hampton will become the first black person to ever hold statewide office in Kentucky.

Republican gubernatorial nominee Matt Bevin is urging Kentuckians to "vote your values and not your party" as he makes his final pitch ahead of Tuesday's election.

Bevin got a plug Monday from his one-time adversary, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, at his first campaign stop in Louisville.

Bevin is competing with Democrat Jack Conway to succeed two-term Gov. Steve Beshear.

McConnell says Bevin represents the change needed to make Kentucky more competitive.

McConnell and Bevin waged a bitter primary campaign fight last year, and Democrats have repeated some of McConnell's attacks against Bevin in this year's campaign.

Conway, the state's attorney general, says he will peel away plenty of Republic support from Bevin.

Conway says the race is a contrast "between the mainstream and the extreme."

Bevin and Conway are campaigning across Kentucky.

Democrat Jack Conway has significantly increased his TV ad spending in the final month of his campaign for governor.

Conway's campaign has spent $2.5 million to air more than 7,000 TV ads through Monday according to an analysis by the Center for Public Integrity. Republican Matt Bevin has spent $1.3 million to air more than 4,500 ads.

That's up about $200,000 for Bevin from two weeks ago, but Conway's total jumped by about $800,000 in that time.

The data doesn't include radio, online or direct mail ads or TV ads aired on local cable systems. The estimates also don't include production costs.

Conway has $2.3 million in cash available to spend according to the latest disclosure reports. Bevin has more than $674,000 available, most coming from his personal wealth.

RGA Stops Running TV Ads in Kentucky Governor's Race

Sep 28, 2015

The Republican Governor's Association has stopped running TV ads for Matt Bevin in Kentucky with a little more than a month to go until Election Day.

The association has spent $3 million on six ads for Bevin, mostly attacking his Democratic opponent, Jack Conway, for supporting the policies of Democratic President Barack Obama. Association spokesman Jon Thompson said the group is evaluating its strategy and could go back on the air before November.

The move is a blow for Bevin, who has aired just one TV ad after spending more than $1 million of his own money to win a four-way Republican primary in May. A spokeswoman for Bevin said the campaign plans to start running a second TV ad on Wednesday and is in production for a third.

Kentucky LRC

Outgoing Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear had a vision of bringing casino gambling into Kentucky to generate new revenue for state coffers, as he has often said. But the issue has never taken hold in the legislature.

House Speaker Greg Stumbo, a Democrat from Prestonsburg, reignited the expanded gambling debate on Tuesday, announcing that during next year’s legislative session he would propose a constitutional amendment to allow as many as seven casinos to open in the state. Counties would have to approve new casinos in a local option vote before they could be built.

But after voters elect a new governor in November, advocates of expanded gambling will lose their biggest ally. And it’s unclear whether Beshear’s replacement will support the cause — at least as forcefully as he has.

Last summer, Democratic candidate for governor Jack Conway said he would campaign for expanded gaming, but the issue hasn’t become a major point of contention during the gubernatorial race so far. Spokesman Daniel Kemp said Conway still supports the policy.

Jacob Ryan, WFPL

Republican candidate for governor Matt Bevin won’t say whether he plans to attend a private meeting hosted by the Kentucky Coal Association and representatives of the energy industry.

KCA President Bill Bissett said Monday that Bevin and Democratic candidate Jack Conway were invited to speak at the group’s annual meeting, which is scheduled for October.

Conway’s campaign told Kentucky Public Radio he would attend. But in an interview on Tuesday, Bevin refused to give a straight answer about whether he would go to the closed-door retreat.

“There’s things that are on my agenda and there’s things that are not on my agenda, and things that will be made aware to the outside world and some that won’t,” Bevin said when asked if he would attend.

In June, Bevin and Conway both appeared at a private event in Virginia attended by luminaries of the nation’s coal industry. The media was not made aware of that event, where the two candidates took questions from Bissett and audience members and sparred with one another, according to the Lexington Herald-Leader.

US Geological Survey, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

The Kentucky Coal Association is under fire for again planning a closed-door meeting with the state’s leading gubernatorial candidates.

KCA President Bill Bissett told CN2 last week that the major party candidates for Kentucky governor — Republican Matt Bevin and Democrat Jack Conway — would be speaking during private events at the association’s annual meeting in October.

This would be the second private meeting between energy industry representatives and the state’s leading gubernatorial candidates. Bissett moderated a secret debate this summer in Virginia between Conway and Bevin before coal industry leaders.

The closed-door meetings have drawn criticism from media outlets. In a recent column, Courier-Journal political reporter Joseph Gerth wrote that open discussions are especially important in the close gubernatorial election “because neither of the candidates has been terribly accessible.”

Jacob Ryan, WFPL

Kentucky’s Republican nominee for governor is pledging to defund Planned Parenthood operations in the state if he’s elected.

Matt Bevin’s campaign issued a statement Wednesday saying he would order the Cabinet for Health and Family Services to stop distributing federal taxpayer dollars to Planned Parenthood clinics in Lexington and Louisville.

Bevin said he would order the money returned to the federal government.

Politifact Sheet: Eight Things to Know About the Planned Parenthood Controversy

Planned Parenthood has come under fire from conservatives in recent weeks after an anti-abortion group released videos showing Planned Parenthood staff discussing aborted fetuses. The group behind the videos accuses Planned Parenthood of selling aborted fetuses for a profit, a charge Planned Parenthood strongly denies.

Supporters of Planned Parenthood says it’s a longtime provider of healthcare for low-income women.

In a statement from Planned Parenthood Indiana-Kentucky sent to WKU Public Radio Wednesday, the group said its two centers in Kentucky helped more than 4,700 patients last year.

“Banning federal funding for Planned Parenthood would have a devastating impact on women, men and families—especially those in medically underserved communities and with low incomes —for preventive care, including Pap tests, breast and testicular cancer screenings, birth control, STD testing and treatment, and annual wellness exams," said the statement from Planned Parenthood Indiana-Kentucky CEO Betty Cockrum.

Democratic Attorney General Jack Conway leads Republican Louisville businessman Matt Bevin by a slight margin in the race for governor according to the latest Bluegrass Poll.

Conway leads Bevin 45 to 42 percent according to the survey, which is conducted by SurveyUSA on behalf of the Herald-Leader and WKYT in Lexington and The Courier-Journal and WHAS in Louisville.

When the survey factored in potential independent candidate Drew Curtis, he took 8 percent of the vote.
Among the 863 registered voters polled, Bevin and Conway fared equally well with male voters, each taking 44 percent. Conway does better among female voters, taking 46 percent to Bevin’s 39 percent.

The poll also indicated that current Gov. Steve Beshear has a positive rating in his final year in office, with 51 percent giving him a favorable rating.

Democratic gubernatorial nominee Jack Conway and Republican rival Matt Bevin once again clashed over the expansion of Kentucky's Medicaid system and state-run health exchange, Kynect at a debate held by the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday in Louisville.

Bevin has pushed for dismantling Kynect and moving recipients onto the federal health exchange.

“We have a governor who has uncorked a disastrous package of cost on us that we’re going to have to deal with," Bevin stated.

Bevin has argued for the elimination of the state’s expansion of Medicaid, which makes eligible all Kentuckians with incomes at or below 138 percent of the poverty line, and scaling it back to pre-expansion levels.

Conway said if elected he would continue the expansion of Medicaid and state run exchange, saying Kentuckians get better rates through Kynect than on the federal exchange.

“It’s a cheaper, more efficient way to allow people to purchase health insurance,” Conway said.

Conway and Bevin also exchanged a few barbs during the debate—Bevin pointed out that Conway graduated from Kentucky basketball rival Duke University. Conway noted several times that Bevin was not born in Kentucky.