Gov.-Elect Andy Beshear Announces Inauguration Day Festivities Tuesday, Nov 26 2019 

Britainy BeshearCalling it “a time for all Kentuckians to come together on one team,” Gov.-elect Andy Beshear announced details of his December 10 inauguration.

Inauguration Day festivities are open to the public and include a breakfast, parade, swearing-in ceremony and two inaugural balls that last until midnight.

The governor-elect and first lady Britainy Beshear announced the events during a news conference at the state capitol on Tuesday.

“We believe that not just the Capitol doors, but all of state government should always be open to the people it serves and the people that come to work with, to talk to state government ought to be heard,” Andy Beshear said.

The swearing-in ceremony will take place at 2 p.m. Eastern Time on the Capitol steps followed by an open house at the Capitol building.

Beshear will officially be sworn in as governor at 12:01 a.m. on Inauguration Day as he takes over for outgoing Gov. Matt Bevin.

Beshear, a Democrat, is currently the state attorney general and will have to appoint someone to head up the office before incoming Republican Attorney General Daniel Cameron is sworn-in in January.

Beshear has floated the idea of having Cameron start early, but said he is still discussing the matter with Cameron.

“I’ve got ongoing meetings with the attorney general-elect,” Beshear said. “I think he’s being very thoughtful about the approach that he wants to take. We’ve known each other for some time and believe we can have a very good working relationship.”

Beshear said that he spoke to Bevin for the first time since the election on Monday. Bevin invited Beshear for the ceremonial lighting of the Capitol Christmas tree.

“It was a very kind call yesterday,” Beshear said. “We’re going to do that Christmas tree lighting together. I think it’s more than symbolic and it was a big and a very good gesture.

Beshear has announced some of his top appointees for his incoming administration, but has yet to reveal who will lead the eleven cabinets that manage most of state government.”

He said he would have more announcements on Monday, Dec. 2.

“It’s coming together, but as I’ve said before my goal is to get it right as opposed to being fast,” Beshear said.

The parade, swearing-in ceremony and inaugural march will be broadcast live on KET. More details about the festivities can be found here.

During Debate, Bevin Denies Linking Casino Gambling To Suicide Saturday, Oct 26 2019 

Gov. Matt Bevin and Attorney General Andy Beshear participated in another televised debate Saturday night ahead of the Nov. 5 gubernatorial election.

Bevin and Beshear once again illustrated their sharp differences on issues like abortion, health care, taxes, and whether to legalize casino gambling to try and bring in more revenue for the state.

At one point Beshear criticized Bevin for making inflammatory statements like his claim from over the summer that casino gambling leads to suicide.

Bevin denied ever making the comment.

“I don’t know where this comment about the casinos comes from, I’ve never said anything like that, that’s absolute malarkey,” Bevin said.

Bevin made the comment during an interview on WKDZ in Cadiz in July.

Beshear has proposed dedicating tax proceeds from casino gambling for the state’s ailing pension system.

Expanded gambling has been proposed in Kentucky for years but has not gotten traction in the legislature. Republican leaders of the state Senate recently said the policy would be a non-starter.

On abortion, Beshear said that he supports the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court ruling that bans states from restricting abortions before the point at which a fetus could survive outside the womb.

Beshear called Bevin’s stance on abortion “extremist.” This year Bevin signed a law that bans the procedure once a fetal heartbeat can be detected — about the sixth week of pregnancy.

“Under this governor, a 13 year-old raped by a member of her own family and impregnated would have no options. I think that’s wrong,” Beshear said.

Bevin said that Beshear is “pro-abortion,” and said that he stands by his record.

“It is critical that you be honest about the fact that you are pro-abortion and stop trying to couch it in all these safe little comments and trying to find examples where there might be an exception for this or that,” Bevin said.

Bevin also stood by his proposal to reshape the state’s Medicaid system by requiring able-bodied people to prove they are working, in school or volunteering in order to keep their benefits.

“I believe that able-bodied working age men and women, people who could go to work, people who don’t have dependents, should be doing something in exchange for the free health care that the men and women who go to work every day, that they might not have themselves, that they’re paying for,” Bevin said.

Beshear called Bevin’s Medicaid plan “cruel.”

“It just creates bureaucratic red tape and ultimately takes health care away from people,” Beshear said.

Bevin and Beshear will participate in two more debates before the election — the KET debate on Monday night in Lexington and a debate at Northern Kentucky University on Tuesday night.

New Court Ruling Could Make Expungement Unaffordable For Some Kentuckians Friday, Oct 25 2019 

People who can’t afford to pay expungement fees might be prevented from clearing their criminal record under a recent Kentucky court ruling.

The Kentucky Court of Appeals earlier this month upheld a Jefferson Circuit Court ruling in which a Louisville man who qualified as indigent was denied a waiver for the fee required to expunge a felony charge from his criminal record.

Attorneys, legislators, and expungement advocates worry the ruling will stifle access to expungements and undercut years of criminal justice reform efforts to return basic rights to thousands of people whose convictions have long passed.

“It is an injustice,” said Sadiqa N. Reynolds, president and CEO of the Louisville Urban League.

New legislation this year made expungement accessible to more Kentuckians. Legislators this year also expanded the scope of the state’s expungement law, making dozens of Class D felonies expungeable. But they stopped short of allowing expungements for convictions of certain drug trafficking crimes, DUI, assault, or a sex offense. 

The cost to expunge a felony is now nearly $300 — reduced by lawmakers from $500. Misdemeanors cost $100 per offense.

These efforts ignited a groundswell of support networks aimed at helping people clean their criminal records — philanthropists have pledged money and nonprofits are hosting clinics to guide people through the process.

In Louisville, expungements are in high demand.

And more than 400 people are signed up to attend an expungement clinic run by the Louisville Urban League on Saturday at Roosevelt-Perry Elementary School. Reynolds, a leading advocate for expungement, said the ruling amounts to socio-economic discrimination.

“We want people to be able to re-enter society,” she said in an interview this week. “We want them to be able to engage with society.”

And it’s not uncommon for low-income residents to be granted waivers for expungement-related fees, according to attorneys who assist residents in clearing their criminal records.

Since 2018, the Legal Aid Society in Louisville has assisted more than 1,000 people seeking expungements, according to Stewart Pope, the advocacy director the the Legal Aid Society in Louisville. About 90 percent of those people were granted a fee waiver by a judge, he said.

For many, Pope said the fees are just too much. And without the waiver, they simply wouldn’t be able to get the expungement. 

“There literally is no extra money,” he said. “The point of expungement is to get rid of these charges so that somebody can get a better job and hopefully get out of poverty.”

A Right Or A Privilege?

Felony disenfranchisement is pervasive in Kentucky: More than 312,000 Kentuckians are prevented from voting due to past felony convictions, according to a report published earlier this year by the League of Women Voters of Kentucky.

Past convictions can keep people from getting good jobs and they block thousands from exercising basic constitutional rights, like voting or owning a gun. Kentucky and Iowa are the only states to permanently ban felons from voting. More than 1 in 4 African Americans in Kentucky are disenfranchised, the highest rate in the nation.

Clearing a record of a felony allows people to experience life in a way they cannot when they’re burdened by ever-present stain of past convictions, Pope said — they can vote, they can attend field trips with their children, they can seek out jobs without being forced to disclose their past transgressions.

But mandating fees could prove to be a barrier for some. 

In December 2018, Jefferson Circuit Judge Audra Eckerle denied Frederick Jones’s request to waive the then-$500 fee to expunge a felony theft charge he served prison time for in 1998. Jones declined to be interviewed.

Eckerle said that Jones, who reported earning less than $950 a month, qualifies for such a waiver. But she disagreed that the fees related to expungement are waivable. Eckerle said expungement is optional and the costs are not unwillingly imposed on someone.

Moreover, legislators who wrote the law did not specifically say the fee could be waived, Eckerle wrote in her opinion.

For this, she said Jones had to pay up if he wanted to rid the conviction from his record.

“Indeed, [Jones] has already had 20 years to amass the $500 fee,” she wrote. 

The Kentucky Court of Appeals unanimously agreed with Eckerle. 

Kentucky law allows judges to grant waivers for residents who can prove they lack the resources needed to foot the bills associated with appealing, filing, or defending “any action” in court. 

But in an opinion issued Oct. 11, the Court of Appeals judges ruled that expungement is different because it’s not a right, but a privilege.

“A privilege the General Assembly has no obligation to provide at all, and which it may therefore provide subject to conditions that our courts are not at liberty to ignore,” wrote Judge Joy A. Kramer in the opinion issued earlier this month.

The judges likened an expungement to a bankruptcy, in that there is no constitutional right to access a bankruptcy. Instead, the opinion said, it’s a matter of “legislative grace.” 

Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear filed a one-paragraph brief in the appeal, according to the Court of Appeals opinion, which ”stated in essence that he did not have a dog in this fight.”

Asked to explain his position on the case and if he supports fee waivers for expungements, Beshear’s spokesperson Crystal Staley said in a statement that the statute passed by the legislature mandated a fee for all expungements. 

“The Court of Appeals enforced the statute as written,” Staley said. “Attorney General Beshear believes that through criminal justice reforms to state law, expungements should be affordable for non-violent convictions that may currently be expunged under the law.” 

Beshear is the Democratic candidate for governor opposing Gov. Matt Bevin, who signed into law this year the expansion to expungement rights. Bevin’s spokesperson did not reply to a request for comment on the case.

Reynolds of the Louisville Urban League said support for expungement crosses party lines. One reason for that, she said, is because when people can clear their criminal record they can open themselves up for better job prospects. And hampering people’s ability to do that, she said, would be akin to the state “shooting itself in the foot.”

She’s hopeful the legislature or the Kentucky Supreme Court will clear up the confusion.

“I don’t care which body deals with it, it just needs to be dealt with,” she said.

Review Likely

The state’s highest court will have the chance to hear the case, said Cassie Chambers Armstrong, an attorney with Kaplan Johnson Abate and Bird who represented Jones on his appeal. (Armstrong’s firm has represented KyCIR in recent litigation.) 

“We’re talking about a law that affects so many Kentuckians in such a fundamental way, we’re talking about things like jobs and housing, and public benefits and the right to vote,” she said in an interview this week.

Armstrong said she intends to ask the Kentucky Supreme Court to review the case.

Karen Faulkner, a criminal defense attorney in Louisville, has guided hundreds of clients through the expungement process, and said many are granted waivers from associated fees. 

She worries that the Court of Appeals ruling will create a class-divide in expungement access — and the poor will be on the losing side.

“What we are looking at with this ruling is a circumstance where those people who have money are able to get expungements and those who are poor are not,” Faulkner said. “And I hope that the Supreme Court looks at the constitutional due process issues and overturns the opinion.”

Legislators who sponsored the recent expungement bill said this debate is an unintended consequence of their legislation. 

Sen. Jimmy Higdon, a Republican from Lebanon, sponsored the bill in the most recent General Assembly that widened the scope of felonies considered expungeable, and reduced the filing fee to $250 from $500. Higdon said he always assumed judges would waive the fee for those who can’t afford to pay it.

But Judge Kramer, writing for the Court of Appeals, said “legislative intent is expressed by omission as well as by inclusion.” Higdon’s bill described the fee as mandatory and failed to state fees could be waived, the court ruled.

Higdon said if the Court of Appeals ruling stands, he’s certain legislators will work to “correct what was misinterpreted in my legislation.”

“It’s common practice in Kentucky that if a defendant cannot pay a fee, a judge has a discretion to waive it,” he said. “If I wanted to block them from getting a fee waived, I would have put wording in there to block it.”

Rep. Ed Massey, a Republican from Hebron, sponsored the bill in the House of Representatives. In an interview this week, he said fees should not inhibit anyone from getting an expungement and the legislature must be clearer regarding waivers for expungements.

“The courts should absolutely be able to grant a waiver,” he said. “Nothing would prevent us from revisiting the expungement bill and considering that as a legislative action.”

This Week In Conversation: Attorney General Andy Beshear Tuesday, Oct 22 2019 

Attorney General Andy Beshear is the Democratic nominee in the race for  Kentucky governor, and a recent poll shows he is in a dead heat for the spot with Republican Governor Matt Bevin. This week, WFPL’s In Conversation talks with Beshear about his platform and Kentucky politics.

The Mason-Dixon poll, which has a “B+” rating from FiveThirtyEight pollster ratings, found that 46 percent of likely voters plan to vote for Bevin. Another 46 percent plan to vote for Beshear and 7 percent are undecided, but the poll also found that Bevin increased support within his party since the previous poll in December 2018. The governor also has more crossover appeal than Beshear with members of the other party, according to the poll. 

But some political observers say Governor Bevin’s divisive statements regarding teachers could be a deciding factor in the race, as Beshear has lobbied for their support and waged court battles with the Bevin administration over teacher retirement benefits and other issues.

We’ll talk with Beshear about education, health care, gun laws and more ahead of Election Day, Nov. 5. 

Note: WFPL also reached out to Republican Gov. Matt Bevin to invite him to share his positions on In Conversation. A campaign spokesman said it would be impossible with Bevin’s schedule.

Listen to In Conversation live on 89.3 WFPL Friday at 11 a.m. or follow along with our live tweets at @WFPLnews. Call with your questions or comments at 502-814-TALK or tweet us with the hashtag #WFPLconversation. We’re also on Facebook.

Vote Like Your Life Depends on It Sunday, Sep 29 2019 

By Ben Goldberger —

Voting in Kentucky is Nov. 5 from 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Everyone should vote, because to some people, their lives depend on it.

Volunteers have already been asking students if they are registered to vote, and although it can be frustrating, it is necessary.

While nobody likes to be bombarded with questions from a stranger on their way to class, it is so important to know your voting status. 

The issues brought up on the political stage affect everyone, and voting is the way to make voices heard on a national level.

It is easy to dismiss voting with the belief that one vote won’t change the election, but that thought is what causes young voters to not go to the polls. This is an extremely dangerous outlook that ends up hurting the country.

According to the Pew Research Center, it is expected that one in every 10 voters in 2020 will be from Generation Z. Combined with the Millennial vote, youth voters are around 40 percent of the population. 

However, if voters from these generations decide not to vote, older voters will decide the political officials that shape our country. This puts candidates in office that will benefit them instead of the newer generations.

“I think it’s pertinent for young people to vote because we have a unique experience where the policy changes that are made affect us for a long period of time,” senior Cultural Non-Profit Development major Arii Lynton-Smith said.

One of the biggest examples of this is the climate change emergency. This issue is going to affect younger voters for the rest of their lives, but it is not as much of an issue for most older voters. If younger voters and politicians do not get involved, these issues will never be dealt with until it is too late. 

This election, almost all statewide positions are open, meaning the whole political scene in Kentucky can change. Gov. Matt Bevin is up for reelection after being named the country’s least popular state governor this year. Bevin is being challenged by the current Attorney General and son of Bevin’s predecessor, Andy Beshear.

All other major roles in the government are up for election this year as well, so this is the time to utilize your civil right and duty to vote. 

When asked why voting is important to her, Lynton-Smith said, “Just 60 years ago, people that looked like me were bullied and kept out of the polls.”

Voting is not a chore. It’s a privilege.

In such a diverse nation, it is critical for people of all different backgrounds to vote in every election in order to truly represent the ideas and needs of this country.

If nothing else, vote for your peers who cannot. Vote for the students victimized in way too many school shootings whose lives were taken before they had the opportunity to vote. Vote for Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin and the hundreds of other innocent African-American teenagers who have had their opportunity taken away from them by police officers. 

Vote while you still can, because in this country, you never know when that will be taken away from you. 

Graphic by Alexis Simon / The Louisville Cardinal

The post Vote Like Your Life Depends on It appeared first on The Louisville Cardinal.

Ky. Supreme Court Rules Bevin Can Reject Beshear Opioid Contracts Thursday, Aug 29 2019 

The Kentucky Supreme Court has ruled that Gov. Matt Bevin is allowed to reject contracts Attorney General Andy Beshear made with private law firms to sue drugmakers over their role in the state’s opioid epidemic.

Beshear’s office has sought assistance from several law firms as it sues drug manufacturers and distributors in nine different cases.

In a statement, Bevin celebrated the legal victory, accusing Beshear of trying to direct contracts to “his friends and campaign donors.”

“As Attorney General, Andy Beshear claimed that he is above the law and attempted to put his campaign donors ahead of the interest of Kentuckians in ongoing cases with opioid manufacturers,” Bevin wrote.

“If allowed to continue, that practice could take millions of dollars away from Kentuckians who need it most and put it in the pockets of Andy’s largest campaign contributors.”

The ruling comes as Beshear is challenging Bevin in this year’s race for governor.

Beshear tried to award the contracts in 2017, but was ultimately denied by Bevin’s Finance and Administration Cabinet. Beshear then sued over the denial.

In a statement following the ruling, Beshear said that Bevin “just gave the opioid companies one of their biggest wins nationwide.”

“This decision has devastating impacts on our cases against companies that have ravaged our state and will cost taxpayers millions,” Beshear wrote. “Bevin took these actions to prevent the attorney general from holding these companies responsible for the death and addiction they have fueled.”

Beshear said he would seek to have the case re-heard.

Bevin Wants Judge Removed From ‘Sickout’ Case Over Facebook ‘Like’ Wednesday, Aug 28 2019 

Gov. Matt Bevin’s administration is trying to disqualify the judge presiding over a lawsuit against the state’s investigation into protesting teachers, arguing that a Facebook “like” shows bias.

Franklin Circuit Court Judge Phillip Shepherd is presiding over Attorney General Andy Beshear’s lawsuit against Labor Cabinet Secretary David Dickerson, who subpoenaed 10 school districts for information about teachers who used sick days to protest in Frankfort during this year’s legislative session.

Steve Pitt, Bevin’s general counsel, argued in a court motion filed Monday that Shepherd violated the state’s Code of Judicial Conduct by “liking” a Facebook post that is supportive of Beshear, who is running for governor against Bevin this year.

“In the thick of an election, this Court recently took to social media to publicly support Plaintiff Attorney General Andy Beshear’s campaign against Governor Matt Bevin,” Pitt wrote.

“That alone runs afoul of Kentucky’s Code of Judicial Conduct and raises significant questions about the Court’s impartiality in cases involving Governor Bevin’s administration.”

Shepherd “liked” a post by Democratic state Rep. Chris Harris praising volunteers on Beshear’s campaign.

“The Beshear/Coleman Campaign has some great local talent getting the word out for them. Honored to sign a pledge card to vote for the Beshear/Coleman ticket in November,” Harris wrote.

Bevin has lashed out at Shepherd several times in recent years amid a series of legal challenges brought on by Beshear, calling him an “incompetent hack” and accusing him of being a Democratic operative.

Bevin has also scrutinized Shepherd’s Facebook page before. Last year he made a video criticizing Shepherd for indicating he was “interested” in a protest against the pension bill Bevin signed into law.

Beshear called the Bevin administration’s motion to remove Shepherd “yet another absurd attack by an out-of-control governor.”

“Matt Bevin and his labor secretary have recently announced their ‘findings’ that over 1,000 Kentucky teachers broke the law. Now Bevin is trying to prevent the courts from giving those same teachers due process. Matt Bevin needs to stop attacking teachers, judges and his own lieutenant governor,” Beshear wrote in a statement.

Earlier this month, Bevin’s administration said that 1,074 teachers broke the law by calling in sick to protest in Frankfort earlier this year.

The Labor Cabinet said that the protesting teachers were eligible to be fined $1,000 for each day they protested because they violated the state’s law banning public workers from striking.

Labor Cabinet Secretary David Dickerson said that teachers wouldn’t be fined this time, but that they might be in the future.

Republican Sen. Dan Seum of Louisville endorses Beshear over Bevin Monday, Jul 29 2019 

Screenshot of tweeted video in which state Sen. Dan Seum, R-Louisville, announcing his endorsement of Attorney General Andy Beshear

Republican state Sen. Dan Seum of Louisville broke ranks with his party Monday morning by announcing that he is endorsing Democratic Attorney General Andy Beshear in the race for governor over Republican incumbent Gov. Matt Bevin. In a video tweeted by Beshear’s campaign, Seum endorsed Beshear and blasted Bevin for insulting teachers around the state. […]

Beshear Outlines Policies For Veteran Health Care  Thursday, Jul 18 2019 

Attorney General Andy Beshear is appealing to Kentucky veterans with a set of health-related programs and policies he’d work toward if elected governor in November.

“We have a special duty to our veterans whose health care needs so often come from the sacrifice that they have made for our country,” Beshear said, adding that he wants to address some of the biggest challenges of vets.

“Our health care plan is designed to make sure that we can provide the services we need to stop those suicides, to stop that substance abuse. And to truly be there for our veterans.”

Veterans were more than twice as likely to die by suicide in 2016 than people who’ve never served in the military, according to the Veterans Affairs Administration. They also have higher rates of substance abuse issues – about 1 in 15 veterans in 2013 had a substance use disorder, whereas the national average among persons aged 17 or older was about 1 in 11, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. 

Here are the five areas Beshear aims to address with his plan:

  • Train doctors and emergency medical professionals in veteran-specific care. The Kentucky Board of Medical Licensure would add classes for civilian medical professionals on challenges specific to veterans under the plan, as VA Hospitals across the state are building a program that allows some veterans to see civilian doctors outside the VA.

“It may be specific training on PTSD related to combat, it may be specific training related to the difficulty… that veterans face trying to get acclimated back to civilian life,” Beshear said. 

  • Allowing veterans to take unpaid time off work to travel to a VA hospital, without fear of being fired. 

Many veterans live in rural Kentucky, and while some care at the VA is free to veterans, many can’t afford to take off work because of fear they may lose their job. Beshear said he’d first allow veteran state employees time off work to go to the VA. 

“A veteran shouldn’t be at a disadvantage, because they get health care through the VA, as opposed to any other employee,” Beshear said. 

Beshear said he doesn’t have a specific plan for how he could gain that kind of access for private-sector veterans, but he thinks regulation or legislation could work and he would look more closely at how to make it happen if elected.

  • Expand access to mental health services via telehealth, allowing veterans to use telehealth to connect with a mental health provider from the VA via a video screen at a local community health center.

Beshear said a big part of his plan includes expanding broadband internet access across Kentucky so veterans can see doctors in their own home. He said he’d also work with the VA to expand existing telehealth programs.

  • Increase veteran-to-veteran outreach on substance abuse issues by partnering with veteran service groups to expand programs that connect veterans struggling with addiction issues with those in recovery.
  • Obtain more federal funding for Kentucky’s VA facilities. Beshear said he’ll work with anyone across party lines and with Kentucky’s congressional delegation to focus on securing funding for VA facilities in the commonwealth. 

Jeremy Harrell is the founder of Veteran’s Club, a social club and nonprofit that provides equine therapy to vets struggling with PTSD. Harrell didn’t endorse Beshear, but he spoke with WFPL about Beshear’s proposals as an Army veteran and advocate. He said many of Beshear’s ideas address the problems veterans face.

Beshear’s proposal to mandate unpaid time off to go to the VA would be remarkable, Harrell said, especially for vets who have hourly or part-time jobs that don’t allow for a flexible schedule.

Regarding Beshear’s plan to allow vets to be seen at private health provider’s offices, Harrell said it’s crucial for those practitioners to know that veterans might not be as willing to open up, or that they might downplay what brought them to the doctor.

“They’re going to have to prod for information,” Harrell said. “It would be beneficial for them [health providers] to go through some sort of military culture class.”

Beshear will face Gov. Matt Bevin during November’s election. Bevin’s campaign manager, Davis Paine — also a veteran — said that the governor understands the challenges that service members and their spouses face as they transition to careers outside of the military. 

“His vision is that Kentucky will be the most military-friendly state in the country,” Paine wrote in an email. “He has made this vision a reality over the last 3.5 years by securing grant funding to improve workforce training initiatives for veterans, implementing policies to further occupational licensing reciprocity and signing numerous military-friendly bills into law.”

During his tenure as governor, Bevin has signed into law and supported several bills aimed at benefiting veterans and their families. A new law signed in 2017 allows veterans with a bachelor’s degree to more easily get a teaching certificate. This year, Bevin signed a law that allows military families to pre-enroll children in school before getting a permanent address and gives interview preference for state jobs to service members.

Poll: Matt Bevin Still The Most Unpopular Governor In U.S. Thursday, Jul 18 2019 

Gov. Matt Bevin is again the most unpopular governor in America and is getting less popular according to a new poll.

Bevin was first elected in 2015 and is seeking reelection this year, trying to become the first Republican governor in state history to serve two terms.

According to the new poll by Morning Consult, Bevin has a 56 percent disapproval rating and 32 percent approval rating.

Notably, Bevin has a 40 percent disapproval rating among Republicans following this year’s primary election, where relatively unknown challenger Robert Goforth, a state representative, won 39 percent of the vote to Bevin’s 52 percent.

Bevin’s approval rating has gone down four points since earlier this year, when the polling firm first tagged him as the country’s least popular governor.

Kentucky’s race for governor is rated as a “tossup” by Cook Political Report, which monitors elections across the country.

His opponent this year is Democratic Attorney General Andy Beshear, son of Bevin’s predecessor, Gov. Steve Beshear.

Morning Consult did not rate Beshear’s popularity or ask voters who they would prefer in a head to head match up between Bevin and Beshear.

During Bevin’s first term, Republicans have logged big political successes — winning control of both chambers of the legislature for the first time in state history and passing a variety of conservative initiatives.

But Bevin has also drawn fire from teachers and state workers for his attempts to overhaul Kentucky’s pension system and a series of inflammatory remarks about his political opponents.

The Morning Consult poll also rated U.S. Senators, and Kentucky’s Mitch McConnell is once again rated as the least popular senator in the nation, with a disapproval rating of 50 percent. Sen. Rand Paul has a disapproval rating of 39 percent.

Morning Consult said it surveyed 9,474 likely Kentucky voters over the last three months.

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