James Comer's former campaign manager Edwin King reflects on primary

06/10/2015 03:57 PM

After laying the groundwork over the last few years and competing in the Republican primary, James Comer saw his chances dashed by the slimmest of margins on May 19.

Comer’s former campaign manager Edwin King, who joined the team in December 2014, said with a close loss there are “many things you could pick apart,” but he thought overall they ran a good race in four-way primary.

Reflecting on early momentum, King said the campaign knew there was going to be a shift as the dollars rolled in from Louisville businessman Hal Heiner.

“We knew that we we’re going to hit a period where a lot of the money spent by the Heiner campaign was going to be effective and he would go up in polls, and he did,” King said. “Our strategy was in the last month to spend all of our money in the last four weeks of the campaign.”

“It’s very, very tempting when you see all of these ads by your opponent on TV to actually think maybe we’ll make a small ad buy here, a small ad buy there. We send out mailers — and start spending money earlier,” he said, adding they kept up their discipline in their strategy.

King said Heiner was leading in March with internal polling showing Bevin’s numbers staying constant into April, but his real movement came in the final weeks of the campaign.

“I think he probably benefited from some of the stories in the final weeks,” King said.

The “big thing” King said he is proud of in the campaign is “how we dealt with adversity,” alluding to the claims of physical and mental abuse from Marilyn Thomas, a former college girlfriend of Comer’s that were publicized in the final weeks of the primary.

“I think we handled that very well. Commissioner Comer, he opened his life up to the media. You know, he denied everything, and he did a good job. I’m proud of the way he handled that and the way we handled adversity,” King said. “I think it really showed by only losing by 83 votes. A lot of people counted us out with three weeks out.”

With a razor-thin margin of defeat to Matt Bevin, Comer opted for a recanvass of the votes cast but did not pull the trigger on a full recount — something his campaign manager said was considered.

“I’d be lying if I said we didn’t consider it,” King said. “At the end of the day Commissioner Comer decided it would be very divisive for the party. Eighty-three votes is a slim margin, however a recount would be very, very costly and it would be divisive for the party.”

King said supporters called and encouraged the campaign to petition a judge for a recount, but Comer opted for unity.

“He’s a class act. I really admire him,” King said.

King said he is in “constant contact” with the Bevin campaign, and that he and Comer plan on supporting Bevin in the Nov. 3 election.

“We’re fighting for the principles and values of the Republican Party,” he said, speaking of the race between Bevin and Democratic nominee Jack Conway.


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