Bevin and other Republicans show unity as Democrats remind voters of past comments on GOP nominee

05/29/2015 04:04 PM

FRANKFORT — Standing in the namesake building of his foe in last year’s U.S. Senate primary, Republican gubernatorial nominee Matt Bevin said Friday any perceived grudges in the GOP are overstated.

Bevin headlined a press conference at Republican Party of Kentucky headquarters featuring other GOP candidates for constitutional office, hoping to demonstrate party unity ahead of a state Lincoln Day dinner in Lexington on Saturday.

Agriculture Commissioner James Comer, who conceded the race Friday after a recanvass showed no change in Bevin’s 83-vote margin of victory, promised in a statement to “do everything I can to see that he wins in November.”

“Much to the chagrin of the Kentucky Democratic Party, this party is united,” RPK Chairman Steve Robertson said at party headquarters, named after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

“The Republican Party of Kentucky supports Matt Bevin and Jenean Hampton with every fiber of our being, and we are moving forward to November to defeat Jack Conway. Period.”

From his perspective, Bevin says Kentucky Republicans are focused on the fall election against the Democratic attorney general rather than previous contests.

“I think you will find in short measure that there really are not nearly the wounds that you all would imagine there to be, that people have long talked about,” he said. “Have people said stuff? Sure, but guess what? In the world of campaigns people say a lot of things, and you will see as we move forward that this is whatever has been said is in the past. We’re all grownups on our side.”

The united GOP front comes as Democrats gleefully cherry-pick anti-Bevin quotes from Republicans that have amassed since the Louisville investment manager first appeared in the political spotlight in July 2013.

KDP launched a website titled “Bevin’s Self Portrait,” which includes several quotes from politicians, former McConnell staffers and pundits, about an hour before Friday’s press conference at RPK headquarters.

The site’s name is based on a remark from former McConnell advisor Josh Holmes to The Courier-Journal May 6, and the page opens to an image of Bevin, with a Photoshopped elongated nose, in a picture frame.

“We agree with top Kentucky Republicans who have said that Matt Bevin is a ‘pathological liar,’ an ‘east coast con man,’ and a ‘selfish, angry’ politician who is only running to satisfy his ego,” KDP Chairman Patrick Hughes said in a statement.

“This site will be a valuable resource for Kentucky voters to learn what Kentucky Republicans really think about Matt Bevinoccio, and why so many of them believe that Bevin’s self-interested agenda and record of deceit is wrong for Kentucky.”

Bevin, however, dismissed the website as sophomoric, saying it appeals more to adolescents than serious voters.

“They’re talking about gibberish,” Bevin said. “They’re talking about things that have nothing whatsoever to do with taking Kentucky forward because you know why? They have nothing to offer to Kentucky, and so they’re going to go with the eighth-grade snark and they’re going to talk about the things that are titillating and they’re going to talk about things that seem funny if you’re 13 years old.”

Bevin said he spoke with McConnell’s chief of staff, Brian McGuire, and U.S. Sen. Rand Paul on Friday regarding their support for his ticket and the GOP slate as a whole.

The pair of Kentucky Republicans have their hands full with handling the Senate agenda and mounting a presidential bid, respectively, but the senators’ donor networks can provide a healthy boost to Bevin’s campaign coffers.

Bevin says the pair may not frequent the campaign trail, but he’s expecting “significant” fundraising help from McConnell and Paul.

“That’s based on conversations we’ve had,” he said. “It will be the case and I look forward to it, but again with respect to their personal time it’ll be as much as they can give and I’m grateful for every bit of it.

“The reason, the primary discussions I’ve had with them both directly and indirectly has been what advice do they have for me. Literally in the hours, days and weeks out of the gate, what would they advise me to be doing. They’ve been to this dance before. They bring a wealth of knowledge and experience from every side of this situation.”

Kevin Wheatley

Kevin Wheatley is a reporter for Pure Politics. He joined cn|2 in September 2014 after five years at The State Journal in Frankfort, where he covered Kentucky government and politics. You can reach him at or 502-792-1135 and follow him on Twitter at @KWheatley_cn2.


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