GOP candidate Matt Bevin, already vetting cabinet-level appointees, wants your suggestions

09/10/2015 11:46 PM

LEXINGTON — For those with an idea of who should be placed in cabinet-level positions, Republican gubernatorial candidate Matt Bevin wants to hear from you.

Bevin, addressing about 200 at a Commerce Lexington luncheon Thursday, compared himself to former Democratic Gov. John Y. Brown as a candidate “unencumbered by anyone and anything” in explaining how a potential Bevin administration would look if he tops Democratic Attorney General Jack Conway Nov. 3.

That prospect, he said, “is equally unnerving to Republicans and Democrats alike.”

“The way it works in this town, in Frankfort, and you all know this, if you don’t have a hook in someone, you want to make sure you have a hook in someone who has the hook in someone,” Bevin said.

“And there is no hook. There’s not a person in this state, there’s not one person who has been promised a job. There is not one favor that needs to be paid back. There was not a single elected official, not one, who supported me or endorsed me during the primary, and that’s fine.”

But that doesn’t mean the GOP nominee hasn’t begun looking into possible cabinet secretaries and other nominees. In response to a question from Kentucky Coal Association President Bill Bissett, Bevin said he will look for individuals with “decades of experience” in their respective fields regardless of party affiliation, adding that he has started vetting potential candidates.

He also invited the crowd to submit any candidates for a top-level job in Bevin’s administration, noting that his appoints would not “be somebody’s kid whose father once gave me a lot of money and that kid needs a job because he studied French literature.”

“If you have ideas for people that you think I should consider, I want to know them,” Bevin said, directing the audience to his campaign website. “… I want to know who you think would be the right people in any respective area. I would ask you to send me four things: the person’s name, what their qualifications are, what you think they would be good at and how I can get ahold of them.”

The GOP nominee told the luncheon crowd that his electoral prospects are “increasingly high,” but he did not answer a question posed by the Lexington Herald-Leader on the basis for that statement. Bevin also ignored questions from Al Cross, director of the University of Kentucky’s Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues.

The Louisville investment manager offered his views on moving public employees to defined-contribution pension plans, transitioning to a consumption-based tax system, passing right-to-work legislation and shuttering the state’s health insurance exchange, kynect, among other topics.

He also addressed some divisive issues like Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis, whom Bevin said deserved an accommodation for her religious objections to same-sex marriage, and the Environmental Protection Agency’s regulations on greenhouse gas emissions.

On that subject, Bevin said his Democratic opponent only joined a lawsuit against the EPA at the behest of the Senate Natural Resources and Energy Committee, chaired by Sen. Brandon Smith, R-Hazard. Current committee chairman Sen. Jared Carpenter, R-Berea, actually led the panel at that time, with Smith serving as vice chairman.

“They unanimously said, ‘Join this suit. You’re killing us in this state,’” Bevin said. “And after two weeks of thought he decided to do so. There’s been no effort behind it. It’s fakery.”

Conway joined 11 other states attorneys general in suing the federal agency Aug. 1, 2014, according to a report by WFPL. A review of minutes from the July 3, 2014, meeting of the Interim Joint Committee on Natural Resources and Environment, chaired that day by Rep. Jim Gooch, D-Providence, shows a discussion of the proposed carbon dioxide emissions regulations, but no mention of potential lawsuits against the federal agency.

Assistant Attorney General Gregory Dutton attended the meeting but did not testify, and no action was taken by the committee.

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 kevin.wheatley@charter.com or 502-792-1135 and follow him on Twitter at @KWheatley_cn2.

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