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Democratic nominee for governor Jack Conway has agreed to six appearances with Republican nominee Matt Bevin in the months before the November 3 general election.

The appearances are:

-A forum in Louisville on June 19 before the joint convention of the associations of county judge-executives, magistrates and commissioners.

-A forum hosted by the Kentucky Farm Bureau on July 23.

-Political speaking at the St. Jerome's Fancy Farm Picnic on Aug. 1.

-A debate at Centre College on Oct. 6 to be broadcast statewide.

-A debate at Eastern Kentucky University on Oct. 25 to be broadcast statewide

-An appearance on KET's "Kentucky Tonight" program on Oct. 26.

A spokesman for Bevin said the campaign has already accepted numerous debate invitations and will continue to accept them.

LRC Public Information

A legislative leader wants Kentucky to establish a debate commission before the November 6 gubernatorial election.

House Minority Floor Leader Jeff Hoover said the commission would be in charge of organizing a series of debates across the state.  The goal, he said, is to make voters better informed.

"Our political system and our campaigns have evolved into 30 second sound bites more than I think most of us would want," Hoover told WKU Public Radio Friday. 

Representative Hoover said it may be too late to get a debate commission going before this year’s race, but he hopes one can be in place for the 2019 gubernatorial election. 

Hoover plans to meet soon with leaders of the state Democratic and Republican parties to begin discussions.

He suggested the commission be modeled after the non-partisan Commission on Presidential Debates.

Kentucky LRC

Analysts say Kentucky will need to hire more state employees or have them pay more into the retirement system in order to reverse the state’s pension crisis, painting a grim portrait of Kentucky’s main public pension system.

Ryan Sullivan says the state will not be able to “invest its way out” of the pension crisis.

“The unfunded liability will actually increase for the first couple of years until salaries can grow fast enough to where this payment grows larger and actually starts to pay down this unfunded liability," Sullivan said.

State Sen. Joe Bowen, a Republican from Owensboro, says that there aren’t many solutions to the crisis.

“There’s obviously only two ways we can do that: employ a bunch more people or require our current employees to pay more,” Bowen said.

In order to remain financially solvent, the state’s annual contribution will have to increase from $560 million in 2015 to $1.4 billion in 2034.

In 2013, lawmakers passed pension reforms which moved new state workers onto 401(k)-style plans and tweaked the tax code to generate more money for the system.

But pension officials say the system still needs more money.

The state has hired another firm to conduct an actuarial audit of Kentucky Retirement Systems.

On Saturday, members of the Kentucky Republican Party met in Lexington for a “unity rally” to show support for their slate of candidates for statewide public office. None of the former Republican candidates for governor showed up.

The rally was requested in April by Sen. Mitch McConnell, Sen. Rand Paul and most of Kentucky’s Republican congressional delegation—who had asked Republican candidates for governor to unite around the ultimate nominee.

Matt Bevin became the nominee after beating out Agriculture Commissioner James Comer by just 83 votes in the primary election.

However, former candidates Comer, Hal Heiner and Will T. Scott did not attend the event and McConnell backed out in order to prepare for a last-minute debate on the expiration of the Patriot Act in Washington.
Sen. Paul did show up and provided his endorsement, saying, “And I’ve told Matt that I will do everything humanly possible in between a few other things to try to help him win and I mean that.”

Using humor to try and tamp down rumors of bad blood with McConnell, Bevin presented a tongue-in-cheek video in which he got a “Team Mitch” tattoo. The six-term senator handily beat Bevin in a U.S. Senate Primary last year.

Several post-Sept. 11 anti-terror provisions have lapsed after the Senate failed to extend them before the deadline at midnight.

GOP Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, who is running for president, took credit for the outcome as he used Senate rules to slow action.

The expiration may be only temporary. The Senate now looks ready to accept a House-passed bill that extends the measures and remakes the National Security Agency's controversial bulk phone collections program.

Following Thursday state-wide recanvass of votes that showed Louisville businessman Matt Bevin still leading Comer by 83 votes, Comer e-mailed the following statement just before 8:00 a.m. Central time Friday morning.

“Within minutes of receiving the results of the recanvass, I called Matt Bevin to concede and congratulate him on a hard fought victory. I asked Matt to afford me the opportunity to personally contact a few of my strongest supporters across the state to again thank them for their support and tell them about my concession. I promised Matt that I would release my statement prior to his Friday morning press conference with the Republican down ballot candidates.

Throughout the entire primary campaign, I grew to appreciate Matt Bevin’s knowledge of the issues, his work ethic, and his morals. Matt ran a clean campaign which focused on the issues important to Kentuckians. Matt Bevin will stand up to the special interest groups that have held our great state back and fight the corrupt elements that still exist in Frankfort. I enthusiastically endorse Matt Bevin for Governor and pledge to do everything I can to see that he wins in November.” 

Comer had until the close of business Friday to call for a full re-count of the votes from last week's gubernatorial primary but that was seen as politically divisive within the Kentucky Republican party and also very expensive; some estimates were as high as $300,000.

Comer's concession sets up a race between Bevin and Kentucky Democratic Attorney General Jack Conway in a rare off-year election that serves as a precursor to the 2016 Presidential contest.

The state board of elections won't officially certify the results of the race until June 8th.

Office of Lt. Gov.

Kentucky’s highest female office-holder is hoping more women will become political candidates.

Lieutenant Governor Crit Luallen, speaking to the Bowling Green Noon Rotary Club Wednesday,  said a recent study showing Kentucky near the bottom of the nation in the number of women office holders is proof there’s a problem.

The report from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research ranks Kentucky 46th in the nation when it comes to the number of females holding elected office.

“I think women have to work harder to prove themselves. I think often they are considered not to have the strength that a man has, or the power that a man has. And the truth is women are doing everyday an incredibly courageous job of balancing complicated lives and careers.”

Despite her concerns, Luallen said she believes an increasing number of younger women in Kentucky are beginning to believe they can succeed at all aspects of running for office.

“They can raise money successfully, they can convince people to support them—it’s a very, very achievable goal to run for office as a woman.”

No other candidates have requested a review of Kentucky's primary election results.

Tuesday was the last day candidates could ask the secretary of state to review the voting machines and absentee ballots in all of Kentucky's 120 counties. A competitive Republican primary yielded two such challenges, one for governor and the other for agriculture commissioner.

Matt Bevin leads James Comer by 83 votes in a race for the Republican nomination for governor that was too close to call on election night. Comer has not conceded and asked for a review the next day.

Kevin Willis

Kentucky Republicans waiting to see U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell put his arm around his political nemesis Matt Bevin will have to wait a little longer.

Bevin canceled an appearance at the Elizabethtown Rotary Club on Tuesday where McConnell, the Senate majority leader, was the scheduled speaker. And McConnell has said he will not attend the state Republican Party's Lincoln Day dinner on Saturday when Bevin will be the featured speaker.

The absences seem to highlight a tense relationship between the state's senior senator and its likely Republican nominee for governor one year after McConnell defeated Bevin in the Senate primary.

A spokesman for Bevin said a scheduling conflict forced him to change his schedule. McConnell said he has to return to Washington on Saturday to prepare for a rare Sunday session to vote on the Patriot Act. Mitch McConnell says he expects to maintain but not grow the U.S. Senate's Republican majority next year.

The Kentucky Republican Party’s website is back up and running after an anonymous group of hackers seized control of it over the weekend. 

The website was hacked by AnonCoders on Sunday and it remained down until Tuesday morning.  An online search of AnonCoders only yielded a Facebook page, which gave little information about the group. 

According to Wikipedia, AnonCoders was created in January and "mostly targets Israeli websites in protest of crimes allegedly committed against the Palestinian people on behalf of Israel."

The reason for the attack on the Kentucky Republican Party website is unknown.  State GOP Chairman Steve Robertson told CN-2’s Pure Politics he doesn’t believe any donor information was compromised since that information is stored on a separate server.

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