Kentucky Gubernatorial Primary: Contentious Race but Many Good Choices
May 20, 2015
But the personal issues in the campaign obscure the fact that any of the four Republicans running would make a great next Kentucky governor.
- The local NPR affiliate observes that the four (especially the three front runners) are largely united on the issues: against imposing a toll on the Brent Spence Bridge to Cincinnati, for making Kentucky a right-to-work state, for rolling back Kentucky’s Obamacare exchange, and for rolling back Obamacare’s expansion of Medicaid in the state. (Even on this NPR affiliate, the panel observed that since Medicaid expansion, one in four Kentucky residents are now on the program—even on this NPR affiliate, the panel admits that that’s a problem!)
- Tea Party businessman and Doctor Bashir lookalike Matt Bevin claims the support of intellectual conservative talk-radio host Hugh Hewitt. Former Louisville councilman Hal Heiner is endorsed by Kentucky Right to Life and Red State’s Erick Erickson. Current state agriculture commissioner James Comer (pronounced “comber”) is endorsed by Tea Partyish Northern Kentucky congressman Thomas Massie and (according to that panel) enjoys the support of much of the Republican establishment in the state.
- If you like personal proxies for how conservative or Christian a candidate might be, Matt Bevin was a captain in the Army, has a wife and nine children (some adopted; ten if you count their eldest child, who was killed in a car accident at age 17), refers to them as a “quiverful” in his campaign bio, and apparently helped found a mission organization. Hal Heiner has a wife and four children, and his campaign bio says that he is an active member of a church. James Comer has a wife and three young children (though of course there are also the allegations). Former state-supreme-court justice Will T. Scott is a veteran (fought in Vietnam) with three children and four grandchildren, whose campaign bio also points to his church membership.
It doesn’t matter and shouldn’t matter, but since it matters so much to the left, and since they’ve tried so hard to smear the Tea Party as racial or racist, I can’t resist pointing out that Matt Bevin’s running mate for lieutenant governor is a black woman (also a veteran).
Kentucky is a red state. Kentuckians voted 57% for McCain in 2008 and more than 60% for Romney in 2012. Both of their U. S. senators are Republicans, and one is the Senate majority leader, and the other is running for president as the libertarianish option. Yet Kentucky elected a Democrat for governor last time. In fact, they’ve had Democratic governors for 40 of the last 44 years. In fact, state agriculture commissioner James Comer is currently the only Republican statewide elected office holder (out of seven statewide elected offices). Kentucky can do better than this.
And they’ll have their chance to. In the meantime, in the primary, it’s still anybody’s game.
According to the most recent poll of the race, taken earlier this month, the first three contenders are effectively tied: Matt Bevin with 27%, James Comer 26%, Hal Heiner 25% (Will T. Scott: 8%). Real Clear Politics’ round-up of what few polls had been taken in past months also suggested a close race.
Update (May 20th, 2015): The results are in from yesterday’s vote. Matt Bevin’s Web site has already been updated to accept the nomination.
But it was indeed a close race! Bevin beat runner up Comer by less than a hundred votes:
Matt BEVIN / Jenean HAMPTON
James R. COMER / Chris McDANIEL
Hal HEINER / K.C. CROSBIE
Will T. SCOTT / Rodney COFFEY