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MEMO: KY GOV. GOP Primary Leaves Nominee Deeply Wounded

TO: Interested Parties
FR: David Bergstein, KDP Communications Director
DT: May 18th, 2015
RE: KY GOV: GOP Primary Leaves Nominee Deeply Wounded 

Kentucky’s Republican gubernatorial primary has been called the “nastiest race of 2015” – and whoever emerges from this slugfest will enter the general election deeply wounded. The primary has three long-term implications for the campaign ahead:

  • First, the GOP nominee will undoubtedly struggle to unify their party in the coming weeks.
  • Second, their far-right policy positions – like opposing a minimum wage increase – are out of step with the independent minded voters who will decide this election.
  • And finally, the primary has exposed serious flaws in each of the potential GOP candidates.

Meanwhile, Kentucky Democrats are energized and unified behind Attorney General Jack Conway’s message of moving Kentucky forward. With one day to go, here’s what we’ve learned about each of the potential Republican nominees during this primary:

Hal Heiner

Wealthy developer Hal Heiner will do anything to help himself, which is why middle class Kentuckians can’t trust him to look out for us. Heiner claims to oppose government spending, but Republicans revealed that Heiner has benefitted from millions in government spending and earmarks – enriching himself at taxpayer’s expense.

And while Heiner said he created 4,000 Kentucky jobs, newspapers exposed that his company only has 5 employees, calling his claim a “stretch.” Today, Heiner no longer calls himself a “job creator.”

Heiner’s self-serving political agenda is also out of step with Kentuckians on key issues. For instance, he opposes an increase in the minimum wage, is against increasing education funding and has supported tolls.

Even Republicans say Heiner “should not be elected Governor” and call him the “Christian Laettner of Kentucky politics.”

James Comer

Republicans have slammed James Comer as a millionaire “politician who spends our tax dollars to take care of himself.”

In one of the most damaging and revealing statements caught on video during the race, Comer failed to defend his vote for the “Greed Bill” that spiked his pension at taxpayer expense. He ultimately admitted it was “a bad vote.”

Republicans have also attacked Comer for hypocrisy: calling him out for taking nearly $90,000 in taxpayer funded subsides for his farm while saying he wants to eliminate farm subsidies for everyone else.

Like the other Republican candidates, Comer is against raising the minimum wage and opposes increasing education funding.  

Matt Bevin

Here’s what one top Kentucky Republican and former aide to Sen. McConnell recently said about Matt Bevin:

“Josh Holmes, McConnell's former chief of staff and an adviser to his campaign, was even more critical, saying that Bevin can't be trusted and is essentially running to satisfy his ego […]  ‘It's abundantly clear that his guiding light is to embrace whatever gets himself a little further down the road,’ he said. ‘If somehow Matt Bevin got into the governor's mansion his only agenda would be the commissioning of his portrait.’"

Bevin may have too many outrageously extreme positions to list, but they include: supporting cockfightingattacking Head Startsaying gay marriage could lead to parent-child marriagesdoing away with Medicare’s prescription drug coverage, and responding to a question about healthcare by saying “do you know a single person…who has ever died on the street of cancer or anything else in America? The point is we are fixing a problem that doesn’t exist.” 

Republicans have also attacked Bevin for benefitting from $100,000 in taxpayer funding, praising the Wall Street bailout, lying about his resume, and failing to pay his taxes.

The Real Winner of This GOP Primary: Jack Conway

So what’s the biggest take-away from this nasty and divisive Republican Primary? The Lexington Herald-Leader said it best: “The biggest winner of this saga is Jack Conway.”