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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.

Kentucky LRC

State Sen. Whitney Westerfield has won the Republican nomination for Kentucky attorney general.

Westerfield defeated Lawrence County Attorney Michael Hogan in Tuesday's primary election.

The Hopkinsville lawmaker will face Andy Beshear, the son of Gov. Steve Beshear, in the November election for the job as Kentucky's chief law enforcement officer. Beshear was unopposed in the Democratic primary.

Westerfield is a former assistant commonwealth's attorney. He touts his chairmanship of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Westerfield says he helped shape high-profile legislation to combat heroin addiction, revamp the state's juvenile justice system and allow victims of abusive dating relationships to seek emergency protective orders.

The state's most prominent democrats are rallying behind Jack Conway for Kentucky governor. That sentiment was expressed during a Frankfort gathering Tuesday night, just minutes after the polls closed.

Conway says he's been chomping at the bit to begin a gubernatorial campaign against one GOP opponent. The state attorney general told supporters the key issue is jobs, jobs, and good paying jobs. Conway says he remains ready to go up against Washington republicans and democrats on the issue of coal. "I'm proud to be the only democratic attorney general in the country, who is suing the EPA and trying to stop their job killing coal regulations ladies and gentlemen," said Conway.

The democratic nominee for Kentucky governor could become the first democrat from Louisville in more than a half century to serve in the state's highest office. Conway understands some consider a candidate from the state's largest city a tough sell in rural Kentucky. "I mean a lot of people like to say to me 'hey Jack, you're from Louisville' and I'm like yeah I am, but I'm also one generation removed from a family farm in Union County and that's where my dad grew up,” Conway said. “I'm someone who's been good on sportsman issues. I saved the tobacco payment and got $57 million additional dollars into agricultural diversification in this state."

Matt Bevin is already looking ahead despite the threat of a recanvass.  

The Louisville businessman addressed his supporters in a Louisville ballroom Tuesday night, acknowledging all three of his competitors before claiming victory in the GOP primary.  
 
Bevin held the lead for most of the night before James Comer was propelled into the lead for a time by rural western Kentucky counties with Bevin retaking the lead with some of the last returns reported.  
 
In a 20 minute address, Bevin outlined his platform and called for the supporters of his former rivals to join his campaign.  
 
Bevin at one point quoted Ronald Reagan, calling his GOP primary win "morning in Kentucky". 

James Comer isn't done with the GOP gubernatorial primary and may not be for at least a week.  
 
Comer is 83 votes behind GOP rival Matt Bevin and told supporters in Lexington he would ask for a recanvass.  
 
Comer's comeback capped a night that saw him in third place and over 10,000 votes back of the leader before the ballots were counted in western Kentucky.  
 
Even with the call for a second look, Comer said he had taken time to call Bevin and said if the vote count held, he would support him in November.  
 
According to the Secretary of State's office, Comer's campaign has until 4p.m. on May 26 to request a recanvass. If one is requested, it will be conducted at the individual county election offices at 9 a.m. May 28. 

When a former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, a former World Bank president and a former assistant secretary of the interior are appointed to a company’s board of directors on the same day, people who invest in the stock market tend to notice.

Voters in Kentucky today are choosing the Republican and Democratic nominees for governor. 

The GOP matchup is extremely close between three of the four candidates. 

James Comer spent the final weeks of his campaign fending off allegations of domestic abuse.  After voting in his hometown of Tompkinsville this morning, Comer told WKU Public Radio he thinks the allegations will "backfire."

"The people who know me are offended by what's been printed.  They're working harder than they've ever worked," said Comer.  "We have a great ground game in just about every county in the state and I feel very confident it's going to be a good night."

Comer has accused Hal Heiner’s campaign of pushing the allegations, though Heiner himself has denied any involvement.  After voting in Louisville, Heiner wouldn't comment on the end of a long and negative campaign, saying only that people in Kentucky are wanting to move the state in a new direction. 

"For 63 weeks, we have focused on what's possible in Kentucky," remarked Heiner.  "I just believe we're at a crossroads right now.  We can do so much better.  I know we can."

Also voting in Louisville was businessman Matt Bevin who said momentum has moved in his direction.

"We've done what we need to do.  We laid down a very good campaign, I think," Bevin commented.  "We've raised the issues, we stayed out of the gutter, and the voters will decide."

When Kentucky voters head to the polls for Tuesday's primary, a ban on electioneering will be in place, although it will be less strict than a previous law struck down by a federal judge.

Earlier this month, the state Board of Elections approved an emergency regulation banning electioneering with 100 feet of polling places.  Private property is exempt.

Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes says a buffer zone between campaigners and the voting booth is necessary.

"The reason we have an electioneering ban is to give voters the confidence and comfort to know that when they go to the polls on election day, they won't face harassment or intimidation by individuals trying to support of oppose particular candidates," Grimes tells WKU Public Radio.

The regulation prohibits people from displaying signs, distributing campaign literature, or soliciting votes within 100 feet of a polling location.

A state law that banned electioneering within 300 feet of polling locations was struck down by a federal judge and the ruling was recently upheld by a federal appeals court.  The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld a 100 foot ban. 

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.

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