GOP gubernatorial candidates talk pensions, taxing at N. Ky. Lincoln Day Dinner

03/02/2015 08:51 AM

HEBRON — All four Republican gubernatorial candidates were in Northern Kentucky on Saturday night at the 4th Congressional District GOP Lincoln Reagan Dinner to try to convince voters why they are the best choice to be their party’s nominee for governor.

Former U.S. Senate candidate Matt Bevin, Agriculture Commissioner James Comer, Former Louisville Metro Council member Hal Heiner and former Kentucky Supreme Court Justice Will T. Scott all talked about how Kentucky’s pension liability and business climate pose a major threat to Kentucky’s future prosperity.

Whoever emerges from the May 19 primary will take on presumptive Democratic nominee Jack Conway.

Bevin, whose running mate is Jenean Hampton of Bowling Green, told GOP members that Republicans are poised to win the November election, no matter who the GOP candidate is.

“It used to be, just 10 or 15 years ago, it was the Democrats who fought for the nomination and some poor chump on the Republican side got put up to be chewed up in the general election,” Bevin said. “Well this year, I can tell you right now, there’s one sacrificial lamb for November and his name is Jack Conway.”

Bevin told the Tea Party friendly crowd that his business background puts him in a better position to tackle the state’s pension woes as well as trying to improve the business climate to bring more jobs to the commonwealth.

Bevin is aware that some Republicans have concerns that he was the last one to enter the race.

“I heard from a lot of people, (saying) you’ve waited too long, you got in too late,” Bevin said. “My question to you, my challenge to you is to think about the logic behind that. How American is that to assume that the first person to the dance is the first person that we need to line up behind?”

Comer, who had the most vocal supporters in the audience, touted his work as agriculture commissioner pointing to when he called for the audit to unfold the wrongdoings of previous commissioner Richie Farmer. And Comer touted transparency in the department — something he said he would bring to the executive branch.

Comer also said that he and his Northern Kentucky running mate, Sen. Chris McDaniel, R-Taylor Mill, would work to change the business climate to attract more good paying jobs and invest money in parts of the state which have a growing economy, like the three Northern Kentucky counties of Boone, Campbell and Kenton.

“These counties have a lot of infrastructure challenges and you’re paying a lot of tax dollars to Frankfort,” Comer told the crowd. “But instead of investing our tax dollars like we invest our business income, the politicians that control Frankfort are investing those tax dollars, like the governor, where it’s politically advantageous. Senator McDaniel and I are going to change that.”

Heiner, who is running with former Lexington city councilwoman K.C. Crosbie, talked about the importance of tackling the states pension woes and how the commonwealth is currently losing jobs to surrounding states which have better business climates.

“From having the opportunity to work with hundreds of companies, they love Kentucky but they can’t stand Frankfort,” Heiner said. “They can’t stand our tax platform, high taxes, our weird taxes, our inventory taxes, high personal income taxes, and our regulatory platform that’s so outdated its moss covered.”

Scott, who stepped down from the bench in December to run for governor, addressed what he and his running mate, Menifee County Sheriff Rodney Coffey would
do to address the growing heroin problem in Northern Kentucky.

“We are going to establish two high intensity drug task forces with the state of Ohio and Kentucky,” Scott said. “These are going to be high intensity, interdictive task forces working with your sheriff’s on the Kentucky side and the sheriff’s on the other side.

“We get the intelligence on the south flow from them and we’re going down to Louisville. We’re going to stop people from dying on heroin.”

The four candidates in the 2015 GOP gubernatorial primary will take part in a one-hour televised debate on cn|2.

The debate will take place in cn|2 Pure Politics’ Louisville studio at 8:00 p.m. Eastern Tuesday, April 21 and will be broadcast to the more than 600,000 Time Warner Cable subscribers across Kentucky.

About Don Weber

Don Weber joined cn|2 when it launched back in May 2010 and soon became a reporter for Pure Politics. He is a graduate of Northern Kentucky University and has spent many years covering everything from politics to sports. Don says he loves meeting new people everyday as part of his job and also enjoys the fact that no two days are the same when he comes to work. Don Weber can be reached at donald.weber@charter.com.

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