Though skeptics may remain, GOP voters seem ready to get behind Bevin's gubernatorial bid

06/01/2015 04:24 PM

LEXINGTON — Unity within the Republican Party of Kentucky has been a narrative since Louisville businessman Matt Bevin’s win in the May 19 gubernatorial primary.

Not only did Bevin survive a bitter four-way primary for governor on the Republican side by a mere 83 votes, he also unsuccessfully challenged U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell. The latter race has drawn the lion’s share of attention given Bevin’s inability to publicly endorse McConnell by name after his nearly 25-point loss to the now Senate majority leader.

The Kentucky Democratic Party, in fact, has published a website dedicated to past anti-Bevin comments from fellow Republicans.

But GOP voters interviewed by Pure Politics at Saturday’s Lincoln Dinner believe Republicans can coalesce behind Bevin, who won the primary with 32.91 percent of the vote, as he readies to face Democratic Attorney General Jack Conway in the Nov. 3 election.

Paul Marcum, for instance, said Bevin’s failure to endorse McConnell’s candidacy compelled him to vote for former Louisville Metro Councilman Hal Heiner, but the choice between Heiner and Bevin was close. He doesn’t believe voters should be concerned with Bevin’s lack of public endorsement in last year’s Senate primary.

“I think that’s just being new to politics,” said Marcum, of Elizabethtown.

McConnell endorsed Bevin in a 12-word statement Friday and again in a letter read at Saturday’s dinner by his state director, Terry Carmack. U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, a Republican presidential hopeful; U.S. Rep. Brett Guthrie, R-Bowling Green; Senate President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester; and House Minority Floor Leader Jeff Hoover, R-Jamestown, also pledged their support for the GOP nominee during this year’s Lincoln Dinner, which drew about 500 attendees.

While some voters may remain skeptical of Bevin’s candidacy, others have already hopped on the bandwagon. Here’s a look at what some rank-and-file Republicans said about their gubernatorial nominee:

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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