GOP's Matt Bevin starts in $110K hole, gets no donations after razor-thin victory in primary

06/24/2015 11:26 AM

Republican gubernatorial candidate Matt Bevin begins his campaign for Kentucky’s top elected office in a six-digit hole after spending more than $1 million in the final weeks of the GOP primary, filings with the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance due Tuesday show.

That sum, negative $110,731, is far below the $1.4 million Democratic Attorney General Jack Conway has banked in his campaign account, according to Conway’s 30-day, post-primary report to KREF.

Bevin’s slim 83-vote victory in the May 19 primary hasn’t created new donors yet. The Louisville investment manager did not report a single contribution from May 20 to Thursday, the last day covered in the KREF filing.

Of the $856,183 raised by Bevin in the reporting period, $800,000 came in candidate loans, pushing his total out-of-pocket expenses in the primary to nearly $2.6 million.

Conway, by contrast, raised $170,341 from outside sources May 5 through Thursday, with $46,571 coming after the primary in which Conway drew no opposition, according to his KREF filing. That post-primary sum includes a $33,575 in-kind contribution from the Kentucky Democratic Party for office space, payroll and benefits.

“This report reflects Jack Conway’s wide and strong grassroots support across Kentucky — and is another indication that Jack’s message of growing the economy for the middle class, creating good-paying jobs and moving Kentucky forward is resonating with voters,” Conway spokesman Daniel Kemp said in a statement.

Bevin’s campaign did not return phone and email messages seeking comment.

Bevin may have eked out a win in the May 19 primary largely financed from his own wealth, but the $2.8 million he has spent in the election is less than half the amount dispersed by Louisville real estate developer Hal Heiner, who spent $5.7 million in his campaign that finished third in voting.

Heiner, the first entrant in the gubernatorial race, contributed $5 million to his campaign from his personal wealth, including $800,000 in the latest reporting period, and his spending dwarfed amounts spent by his opponents by $425,156. Heiner netted $55,213 from outside sources from May 5 through June 18 compared to $56,183.50 for Bevin, $27,405 for Agriculture Commissioner James Comer and $15,525 for retired Kentucky Supreme Court Justice Will T. Scott.

Here’s a look at candidate finances in other races up for election Nov. 3:

Attorney general
Democrat Andy Beshear: $21,185 raised in the reporting period; $47,714 spent; $1.5 million balance
Republican Sen. Whitney Westerfield: $22,586 raised; $63,101 spent; $8,700 balance

Democrat Adam Edelen (incumbent): $21,225 raised; $9,280 spent and $350,000 transferred to his general election account; $17,251 balance
Republican Rep. Mike Harmon: $1,860 raised; $5,512 spent; $1,603 balance

Secretary of state
Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes (incumbent): $100,334 raised; $41,915 spent; $225,157 balance
Republican Stephen Knipper: $1,000 raised; $2,728 spent; $0 balance

Agriculture commissioner
Democrat Jean-Marie Lawson Spann: $1,375 raised; $162 spent; $95,399 balance
Republican Rep. Ryan Quarles: $36,412 raised; $105,644 spent; $5,419 balance

Democratic Rep. Rick Nelson: $3,350 raised; $3,305 spent; $725 balance
Republican Allison Ball: $4,756 raised; $17,205 spent; $10,374 balance

Kevin Wheatley

Kevin Wheatley is a Video Journalist for Spectrum News and covers Kentucky politics and all the goings-on at the State Capitol. Kevin was born and raised in Frankfort so he grew up around politics and has always had the drive to follow the political process and hold lawmakers accountable. Before joining Spectrum News Kevin covered government and politics for The State Journal in Frankfort. You can watch Kevin’s work weeknights at 7:00 and 11:30 on Pure Politics, available exclusively on Spectrum News, HD Channels 403 and 715. You can reach him at or 502-792-1135.


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