Political news

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.

Will T. Scott has trailed in the polls to be the next Republican candidate for governor, but he’s not giving up.

“I’m California Chrome,” Scott said, referring to the horse who won the 2014 Kentucky Derby and Preakness. “Remember how far California Chrome was coming into the turn? Who won the race?”

California Chrome’s jockey, Victor Espinoza drafted the thoroughbred behind two speedier horses before sprinting to the finish for his second Kentucky Derby win.

In a primary election in which only 10 percent of eligible voters are predicted to vote, Scott said he has a loyal base that will come out for him just when he needs them to.

“My people are hard. They’re hard, solid people they don’t change. Everybody else has got some soft folks who are showing right now,” Scott said.

The 67-year-old describes himself as a “lunch pail Republican” who wants to run a “working-people government.”

A state lawmaker and a county attorney are squaring off for the Republican nomination for Kentucky Attorney General in the May 19th primary. 

State Senator Whitney Westerfield of Hopkinsville faces Lawrence County Attorney Mike Hogan. 

Both men agree substance abuse and cyber crimes will be the most pressing issues for the next AG, but disagree over who is better qualified to lead the office.  

The 34-year-old Westerfield touts his legislative experience.

"As the top law officer of the commonwealth whose charge includes the public safety of Kentucky, I think it's a waste of the position to not engage with the General Assembly, and I have shown I can do that as a part of the General Assembly," Westerfield tells WKU Public Radio.

Westerfield, a former assistant commonwealth’s attorney, points to his efforts to revamp the state’s juvenile justice system and pass heroin legislation.

One of every 10 registered voters in Kentucky is expected to vote in Tuesday's primary elections.

Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes says the low turnout forecast is based on about 5,100 absentee votes cast and results from previous elections.

Attorney General Jack Conway is likely to win the Democratic primary for governor. Republicans Matt Bevin, James Comer, Hal Heiner and Will T. Scott are all vying for the Republican nomination. Incumbent Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear cannot seek re-election because of term limits.

The Republican primary for governor has been contentious. Grimes said negative campaigning usually depresses turnout, citing Kentucky's 2014 U.S. Senate race as an example. U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell and Grimes spent tens of millions of dollars on negative advertising in that race, not including spending from outside groups.

Two weeks ago, the Comer-McDaniel campaign saw nothing but fair skies as the candidates flew to four Kentucky cities in one day, rolling out the final planks of their “Plan For All Kentuckians.”

Agriculture Commissioner James Comer, who is seeking the Republican nomination for governor, was still riding on the good news that his campaign had out-fundraised his opponents in the race for governor last quarter—more than $1 million dollars, three times what the three other Republicans raised combined.

At a stop at a charter flight company in Paducah, Comer addressed a small, packed room of supporters, and took a moment to recognize the attacks that had begun to cloud his campaign.

“I’m getting hit by a Republican because they said we’re a Frankfort insider,” Comer said after the press conference.

“We’re not running TV commercials blasting everybody in Frankfort right now, which is what the wealthiest of my four opponents is doing.”


Locked in a dead heat for his party’s nomination for governor, some prominent Kentucky Republicans are coming to the aid of James Comer. 

On the steps of the state Capitol Wednesday, about a dozen current and former elected Republicans expressed their support for Comer while insisting he never abused his college

The accusations come from Marilyn Thomas, who now lives in New York.  She dated Comer while a student at WKU and says he was physically and emotionally abusive toward her, and once drove her to a clinic for an abortion. 

Former State Senator Julie Denton organized Wednesday's rally and said there’s nothing to the allegations.

"I knew about these allegations last summer and checked them out myself, and found nothing, no substance to them whatsoever," stated Denton.

Denton accused unnamed sources of trying to tarnish Comer for political gain. 

"I think it's diabolical and disgusting, and I'm very disappointed there are folks out there who feel that's the only way they can win political office," Denton added.

Comer has accused fellow GOP gubernatorial candidate Hal Heiner of fueling the accusations. 

The race involving Comer, Heiner, and Matt Bevin is in a statistical tie ahead of Tuesday’s primary election.  Polling places Will T. Scott in a distant fourth place.

A new statewide survey shows the Kentucky Republican primary for governor is a tossup between the top three candidates.

The Survey USA poll found Matt Bevin with 27 percent support, James Comer with 26 percent, and Hal Heiner with 25 percent. Will T. Scott trailed with just 8 percent support.

The poll describes the difference between the top three contenders as “not statistically significant”, and says the trio could finish one, two, and three in any order.

The survey polled 517 respondents who said they were registered Republicans and certain to vote in next week’s primary.

The GOP voter sample has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.4 percentage points.

The survey was conducted for The Courier-Journal, WHAS-TV, the Lexington Herald-Leader and WKYT-TV.

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.

One week from Kentucky’s primary election, the four Republican candidates for governor still have some convincing to do.

A survey conducted last week by Public Policy Polling shows only three points separate three of the four GOP contenders.  The poll puts James Comer in the lead with 28 percent support, followed by Hal Heiner at 27 percent, and Matt Bevin at 25 percent.  The survey did not include former state Supreme Court Justice Will T. Scott. 

Despite accusations that he abused his college girlfriend, Comer maintains the highest favorability rating of the three candidates.  While he emphatically denies the abuse allegations, 50 percent of voters have a positive opinion of him.  Bevin is close behind at 48 percent.   Heiner is in last place with his 44 percent favorability rating. 

The poll questioned 501 Republicans and was funded by the Democratic PAC Kentucky Family Values.  The survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.4%.

The winner of next Tuesday’s primary will likely face Democratic frontrunner Jack Conway in the November election.

Kentucky voters who plan to go to the polls this month for the primary election can get a lot of their questions answered online. 

Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes says doing a little homework beforehand can make for a smoother election day. 

"Kentucky has truly embraced technology in the office of Secretary of State, as well the state Board of Elections," Grimes tells WKU Public Radio.  "We want to encourage all eligible Kentuckians to check their voter registration status, and if they're not sure where to go to vote, they can do all of that online."

Voters can also research candidates and view sample ballots online. 

Voter information can be found on the websites www.sos.ky.gov and www.elect.ky.gov

An online portal is also available for military and overseas voters to request and receive absentee ballots. 

Voters in the May 19 primary election will choose their nominees for governor and other constitutional officers.