Beshear And Bevin Talk Bridges, Guns And Casinos In Final Debate Tuesday, Oct 29 2019 

Before a packed crowd at Northern Kentucky University Tuesday night, Gov. Matt Bevin and Attorney General Andy Beshear capped off a series of five televised debates, making their final pitches ahead of next week’s election.

During the debate that aired on WLWT, both candidates said they would make it a priority to address the crumbling Brent-Spence Bridge that connects Covington to Cincinnati.

The issue has been a focal point for northern Kentuckians for years but has failed to get funding from the Ohio or Kentucky governments.

When pressed, Bevin said he would support tolling to help finance the bridge — a policy that has been unpopular with some local residents who use it frequently.

“You have, with technology, the ability to use variable tolling based on local traffic, through traffic, commercial traffic, private traffic but there’s no way around having some type of tolling on a bridge of this size,” Bevin said.

Beshear said that the bridge’s conditions are getting to the point where drivers should fear for their safety. He would not say whether he would support tolling on the bridge, but that the “people of northern Kentucky and not this governor” should decide how to finance it.

Bevin accused Beshear of not being capable of making difficult decisions.

The candidates differed on whether they would support gun restrictions like an assault weapons ban or a “red flag” law that would allow courts to temporarily take guns away from people deemed to be dangerous.

Bevin said he would not support new gun restrictions.

“You can poo-poo all you want, but the reality is it is an evil person who kills people, not the weapon,” Bevin said. “They can do it with a gun, they can do it with a knife, they can do it with vehicle. And if a person wants to kill another person, they can find a way.”

Beshear said he would support a red flag law, and when pressed he said he would not support an assault weapons ban.

WLWT Anchor Sheree Paolello, who moderated the date, noted that the candidates had “found some common ground.”

“Yeah, I think we backed into that one, didn’t we,” Bevin said.

The candidates also revived an argument over Bevin’s claim from over the summer that “every night somewhere in America somebody takes their life in a casino because they’ve wasted the last semblance of dignity.”

Bevin has provided no evidence for the claim and during a debate on Saturday denied ever making it.

During the debate on Tuesday, Bevin again doubled down on the issue, saying that people kill themselves in Las Vegas hotel rooms every other night.

“They’re doing it in hotel rooms, they’re doing it in bathrooms, they’re doing it off of parking garages. It is happening systemically,” said Bevin. “Look at the city of Las Vegas where every other night in a hotel room someone commits suicide in one city alone.”

Bevin has used the claim to attack Beshear’s proposal to legalize casino gambling in an attempt to raise money for the state’s ailing pension systems.

“Folks, this is someone who cannot admit when they have made something up and they’ve been caught,” Beshear said.

Republican leaders of the legislature have said Beshear’s casino gambling proposal is a non-starter.

Beshear And Bevin Bicker Their Way Through KET Debate Monday, Oct 28 2019 

Gov. Matt Bevin and Attorney General Andy Beshear squared off in another gubernatorial debate Monday night, one of the last opportunities for voters to see the candidates make their cases before Election Day.

Bevin and Beshear bickered their way through the debate on KET, while moderator Renee Shaw repeatedly brought them back to substantive policy issues like how to raise more money for the state, how to address the state’s pension debt and whether to keep the state’s Medicaid expansion.

Shaw started off by asking Bevin if he regretted making inflammatory statements about teachers, which have dinged his popularity rating. Bevin said he did not.

“Nothing that I’ve said about educators do I regret,” Bevin said. “There are many things my opponent has said that I’ve said. I’ve made comments about people behaving in ways that were reprehensible that weren’t said about teachers.”

Last year Bevin accused teachers who called in sick to protest his policies in Frankfort of leaving children vulnerable to sexual abuse. He also compared teachers who oppose his pension policies to drowning victims, saying “you just need to knock them out and drag them to shore. It’s for their own good and we have to save the system.”

Beshear’s signature plan is to raise revenue for the state by legalizing casino gambling, even though Republican leaders in the legislature oppose it. Beshear said lawmakers would come around.

“No proposal has ever dedicated 100 percent of the funding of expanded gaming to the pension system,” Beshear said.

Whoever is elected will have Republican supermajorities in both chambers of the state legislature when their term begins.

Leaders of the state Senate have said that Beshear’s proposal is “dead on arrival.”

Bevin said that Beshear’s list of priorities like giving teachers an across the board $2,000 pay raise and reverse cuts to higher education aren’t feasible.

“You’re promising things that cannot be delivered. You’re fighting a legislature, you said you’re going to actively work against your own supermajority legislature, you will not get this done,” Bevin said.

Bevin argued that the only way to raise more money for state coffers is to attract more businesses to the state, touting his plan to cut corporate and individual income taxes and increase the sales tax.

Beshear accused Bevin of pushing for a tax structure that solely benefits the wealthy.

“He thinks that they are a different class than other Kentuckians while he wants to raise the sales tax on all the rest of us,” Beshear said.

Early on in the debate, Bevin tried to clarify his claim from the WLKY debate last weekend that he never said that casino gambling leads to suicide every day.

Bevin said that he had never claimed people kill themselves “on a casino floor,” rather than “in a casino.”

“Which is entirely different from what you said repeatedly, even though I corrected you and you refused to allow me to qualify what I actually said by saying ‘on a casino floor.’ A casino floor is very different than a casino hotel room,” Bevin said.

The candidates have one more debate. On Tuesday night they will square off at Northern Kentucky University. Election Day is November 5.

Here’s Your Comprehensive 2019 Voter Guide Monday, Oct 28 2019 

  1. First, The Basics

Polls open on Tuesday, November 5 in Jefferson County (and all other 119 Kentucky counties) at 6 a.m. and close at 6 p.m local time. If you’re in line at 6 p.m., you will be allowed to vote. You can view your sample ballot on the Jefferson County Clerk’s website, and you should double-check your polling place because many have changed from where they were last November.

If you’re wondering if you’re registered to vote in Kentucky (and hopefully you are, because the deadline to register and still vote in November was last month!) you can check on the Secretary of State’s website.

Acceptable forms of identification include a driver’s license, credit card, social security card, personal acquaintance of an Election Officer, any other identification with both your picture and signature or any U.S. government-issued ID card (for a full list of options, click here).

Tune in Monday at 8 p.m. to 89.3 WFPL (or listen online here) for a special broadcast edition of our voter guide, to help you make an informed choice when you go to the polls. And then on Tuesday, Election Day, we’ll be live from 7–9 p.m. for an election night special talking returns and what’s next for Kentucky. We’ll also take your calls; you can reach the studio at 502-814-TALK.

The Ballot

This year’s ballot is pretty straightforward — at least for most people in Jefferson County. You’ll see all of the state’s big constitutional offices: Governor/Lieutenant Governor, Secretary of State, Attorney General, Auditor of Public Accounts, State Treasurer and Commissioner of Agriculture. If you live in Southwest Jefferson County, you’ll also be able to vote for a school board member. And there’s also a County Surveyor on the ballot, but no one is running — so if you have strong feelings about this job, this is your chance to write-in a viable candidate.

Governor/Lieutenant Governor

This is the big-ticket race, as Republican Gov. Matt Bevin vies for a second term in office. His running mate has changed; Bevin has replaced current Lt. Gov. Jenean Hampton with state Senator Ralph Alvarado on the ticket. His opponent is current Democratic Attorney General Andy Beshear; he’s running with educator Jacqueline Coleman as his Lieutenant Governor.

Secretary of State

Kentuckians will elect the state’s next chief elections officer. Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes has already served two terms and can’t seek a third. Vying to replace her are Democrat Heather French Henry and Republican Michael Adams. Henry has recently served as the commissioner and deputy commissioner of the Kentucky Department of Veterans Affairs. Adams is an election lawyer who previously served on the State Board of Elections.

Attorney General

Because current Attorney General Andy Beshear is in the race for governor, this seat is open, and Republicans are hoping to gain control of the office for the first time since 1947. Former Attorney General Greg Stumbo, a Democrat, is trying to win back the position. After leaving the office in 2008, he was the House Speaker until he lost his reelection bid in 2016. He’s running against Republican Daniel Cameron, a former general counsel to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. If Cameron is elected, he’ll be the first African American to hold statewide office running on his own ticket. (Current Lt. Gov. Jenean Hampton is the first African American to hold statewide office in Kentucky, but she was elected on a slate with current Gov. Matt Bevin.)

Auditor of Public Accounts

Commonly known as “state auditor,” this position heads an independent office tasked with reviewing accounts, financial transactions and the performance of all state government. Incumbent Republican Mike Harmon is seeking reelection; Democrat Sheri Donahue and Libertarian Kyle Hugenberg are challenging him for his seat.

State Treasurer

Kentucky’s treasurer is responsible for making sure the state’s spending is legal and constitutional. Even though it’s a partisan race, the state treasurer is meant to serve as a watchdog over taxpayer dollars, no matter the political party in the legislature or who’s in the governor’s mansion.

The current state treasurer, Republican Allison Ball, is seeking reelection. She’s pointing to her work over the past four years to create a state spending transparency website, backing efforts to teach financial literacy in schools and catching fraud as reasons voters should give her another term. Her opponent is Democrat Michael Bowman, U.S. Bank branch manager in Louisville. Bowman recently also ran for Jefferson County Clerk last year, but lost to incumbent Bobbie Holsclaw. He wants Kentucky lawmakers to legalize gambling and marijuana to bring in additional tax revenue to help solve the state’s retirement pension crisis. He also wants to make a phone app for Kentuckians to more easily find out if they have unclaimed property.

Commissioner of Agriculture

Kentucky’s commissioner of agriculture in many ways is a marketer and advocate for the various agricultural organizations and associations in the state. The department also helps farmers and businesses grow various crops, monitors the needs and health of agriculture in the state, regulates hemp growing licenses and even inspects 60,000 gas pumps across the state.

Current Commissioner of Agriculture, Republican Ryan Quarles, is seeking a second term. His challengers include Democrat Robert Haley Conway and Libertarian Josh Gilpin.

Jefferson County Board of Education

Voters in District 4 of Jefferson County will also see school board candidates on their ballot. This district encompasses the neighborhoods of Cane Run, Pleasure Ridge Park, Shively and Valley Station. Joe Marshall has been in the seat since August, when he was picked by other board members to fill a vacancy. Now, Marshall is running for the final year of that vacant term; he’s being challenged by Joe Goodin, Debbie Gray, Joe Laurenz, Shameka Parrish-Wright, Cassandra Ryan and Dave Whitlock.

For much more coverage about this year’s races and the candidates, click here. Happy voting!

Election 2019: Your Guide To The Candidates For Kentucky Governor Monday, Oct 28 2019 

Kentucky’s governor is the most powerful official in state government. The governor is in charge of managing the agencies that make up the various components of state government like health care, corrections, education and transportation.

The governor also plays an important role in crafting the state’s laws and spending plan, sometimes crafting bills and budgets for the legislature to consider or advocating for new laws. Once a bill passes out of the legislature, the governor can sign it into law or veto it in its entirety, or even veto just parts of the bill.

The governor can deploy a legal team to defend the state’s laws in court or file lawsuits on behalf of the state — a point that has become controversial in recent years as Republican Gov. Matt Bevin has criticized Democratic Attorney General Andy Beshear for not defending some anti-abortion laws that have passed out of the legislature.

Bevin has been governor for four years. If he is reelected, he would be the first two-term Republican in state history (Kentucky governors have only been allowed to run for reelection since a 1992 amendment of the state constitution).

Bevin was inaugurated in 2015 after defeating then-Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway by 9 points, becoming only the third Republican governor of Kentucky since World War II.

Throughout his first term, Bevin has attempted to reshape the state’s Medicaid system by requiring beneficiaries prove they are working or in school to get benefits, he’s successfully advocated for putting more money into the state’s ailing pension systems and signed hundreds of bills into law.

Bevin received a political boon after his first year in office when Republicans gained control of the state House of Representatives for the first time in nearly a century, putting the legislature and governor’s mansion under Republican control for the first time in state history.

Since then, the legislature has approved and Bevin has signed many conservative measures, like a so-called “right-to-work” policy, a repeal of the state’s prevailing wage on public construction projects, an overhaul of the state’s workers compensation system and several anti-abortion laws.

Bevin has garnered attention for his combative demeanor and controversial comments he has made about opponents to his policy stances as well as judges and reporters.

Bevin once claimed that teachers who called in sick to protest his policies in Frankfort had left students vulnerable to sexual assault. He also recently claimed that every day in the United States, people kill themselves in casinos and then denied making the statement.

Bevin’s reelection opponent is Democratic Attorney General Andy Beshear, the son of Bevin’s predecessor, former Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear.

Beshear has filed several lawsuits against Bevin, challenging his use of executive power to reorganize several state boards, make mid-year budget cuts to state universities and investigate teachers who protested in the state capitol. Beshear also successfully sued to block a pension reform bill that Bevin signed into law in 2018.

Anti-abortion advocates have criticized Beshear for refusing to defend some of the state’s new abortion laws — like a ban on the procedure once a fetal heartbeat can be detected (as early as the sixth week of pregnancy).

Beshear also drew controversy after his top deputy Tim Longmeyer was convicted of federal bribery charges stemming from his time as secretary of the state’s Personnel Cabinet in former Gov. Beshear’s administration. Prosecutors said they had no evidence that either of the Besehar administrations knew about the scheme.

Bevin is 52 years old; Beshear is 41. Neither man had held political office before they were elected in 2015.

Here is where the candidates stand on some of the most important issues facing Kentucky. Responses are taken from several public appearances in recent months. Beshear recently participated in a 30-minute call-in show on WFPL; Bevin never responded to an invitation.

Abortion

Matt Bevin:

“It wouldn’t bother me one lick if there wasn’t an abortion provider in this state. It wouldn’t. Our state wouldn’t be less well-served by that.”

“I’ve had people say to me time and again, ‘you’re not supposed to bring religion into politics.’ Let me tell you this, this has nothing to do with religion, nothing whatsoever. This has everything to do with morality, it has everything to do with ethics, it has everything to do with good versus evil and right versus  wrong. That’s exactly what this has to do. And the more you know scientifically, the more we know medically, the more it’s clear that whether you’re a person of faith or not, whether you’re religious or not, you cannot for one moment believe that we are not taking lives through the process of abortion. That’s exactly what it is, that’s only what it is. This idea that it’s not a human being, nonsense.”

Bevin made these comments during a campaign event at the Governor’s Mansion on Oct 11, 2019.

Andy Beshear:

“I support Roe v. Wade but I also support restrictions, especially for late-term procedures. But this governor is an extremist. He believes in a complete and total ban, even for victims of rape and incest. When you’re the attorney general, you work with victims of that trauma and they deserve options. 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 made these comments during a debate on WLKY on Oct 26, 2019.

Pensions

Matt Bevin:

“The pension system has collapsed in Kentucky and public pension systems in America have and I’ll tell you why simply, in one minute. It’s tough. There used to be 30 people working for everybody that was retired. And then there were 20 and then 15 and then 12 and then 10. Social Security only has three and a half paying in for every one that’s retired. And nobody believes social security will last. But I’ll tell you what’s tragic is that Kentucky doesn’t have three and a half paying in, it has less than one. Less than one person paying in for everybody that’s retired. The system has collapsed. The only way to save it, to keep the promise that’s been made to people, the only way, is to change the structure for future employees. It is not possible to continue to promise future people the same thing that current and past people have been promised if there is to be any chance that any of them will get what’s been promised to them. It’s about math, it’s about finances, it’s about actuarial reality.”

Bevin made these comments during a debate on WLKY on Oct 26, 2019.

Andy Beshear:

“A pension is a promise. It is a promise we made to every teacher, police officer, firefighter and social worker. That although we don’t pay them enough for critically important work, we would make it up with a secure retirement. But this governor and the legislature broke that promise. They tried to illegally cut the retirements of over 200,000 public servants, and worse, they put it in a sewer bill. That shows you what they think of us. But we defeated them 7-0 in front of the Supreme Court. So what are they doing now? They’re pushing all of those costs down on cities and counties. And those cities and counties are trying to raise our taxes. Matt Bevin is raising our taxes to try to pay for this pension system.”

Beshear made these comments during a debate on WLKY on Oct 26, 2019.

Revenue

Matt Bevin:

“We have to modernize our tax code. We have to bring ourselves into a more competitive relationship with the states around us. We need to move from more of a production-based economy to a more consumption-based economy. Stop taxing the job creators and the wealth producers. Let them keep the money, redeploy it and then we’ll tax it then. That’s how it gets done. Let them build things with that money, then indeed we’ll tax it and your school districts will benefit from that. Let them redistribute it in the form of pay to individuals who work for them, or to hire additional people or to expand their operations. And those dollars will circulate through the community and be taxed.”

Bevin made these comments during an event hosted by the Kentucky Association of Counties on Oct 23, 2019.

Andy Beshear:

“We need expanded gaming right here in Kentucky. It’s a way that we can create the revenue we need, dedicated revenue for our pension system.”

“[Gov. Bevin’s] tax proposal would harm almost all of us. He wants to cut taxes for him and his buddies — the wealthiest — I think he calls them ‘job creators.’ He thinks there’s two different classes of people, I don’t agree. At the same time he wants to cut their taxes, he wants to raise the sales tax on everybody else. I will never allow taxes to go up on those who are one paycheck away from falling into poverty. It is time for new, dedicated revenue. We’ve got more than $550 million just sitting out there for us to take advantage of. And to push costs down onto cities and counties and have them raise taxes. To talk about raising sales taxes when people are already struggling, that’s wrong.”

Beshear made these comments during a debate on WLKY on Oct 26, 2019.

Higher education funding

Matt Bevin:

“The career and technical colleges have seen more students than ever before because we’ve invested hundreds of millions of dollars in training programs focusing on non-four year degrees. We’ve turned college education into an arms race. Four and five times the cost, but not four and five times the output. Would I love to see more money for higher education, of course I would. Will I make it a priority the extent we have the money, of course. But the reality is we have to spend money that we have and we can’t promise money we don’t have.”

Bevin made these comments during a debate hosted by the Paducah Chamber of Commerce on Oct 3, 2019.

Andy Beshear:

“We have priced higher education out of reach for so many Kentuckians. I think about my dad who grew up a poor preacher’s kid just down in Dawson Springs in Hopkins County. His dad worked hard, was able to afford the University of Kentucky for him, my dad paid his way through law school and became the governor of the commonwealth of Kentucky. That ought to be possible for everyone, but right now so many people couldn’t have afforded that higher education. I’ll tell you, I’m 41 years old — I won’t tell you how old my wife is — we’re still paying a student debt. That’s not how people should be living. Let’s also admit that we’ve got to get more kids in our technical schools and our community colleges. This governor has cut funding to those. We’ve got to increase it.”

Beshear made these comments during a debate hosted by the Paducah Chamber of Commerce on Oct 3, 2019.

Medicaid

Matt Bevin:

“We want not just health coverage, we want health outcomes and better health outcomes. And 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 to provide to them may or not have themselves that they’re paying for, I think everyone should be at the helm.”

“You talk about health care being a universal right, but it’s important to understand this. Somebody has to provide it. None of us have a right to force a person to go to medical school to provide medical services, we don’t have a right to force somebody to treat someone if it costs money. It may be a universal desire, but to call it a right is a bit difficult when it costs money and requires a person to do something to provide that right. I think the key here is to figure out how we can ensure that people who can do for themselves do do for themselves. And that we don’t just seek coverage, but we get better health outcomes. Kentucky HEALTH will get people engaged in their health outcomes because people that are engaged take better care of things, they do it with personal things, they do it with their own bodies, their own personal decisions.”

Bevin made these comments during a debate on WLKY on Oct 26, 2019.

Andy Beshear:

“I believe that health care is a basic human right. And that everybody should be able to take their parents or their kids to a doctor when they’re sick. That’s why I’m fighting both this governor and the federal government who are absolutely trying to tear away coverage for preexisting conditions.

“This governor’s expanded Medicaid waiver is cruel. It’s shown in Arkansas that the people it’s going to kick off their coverage are people who are already working. It just creates bureaucratic red tape and ultimately tears health care away from people.

“And what’d we learn just this last week? He’s going to spend $270 million of your taxpayer dollars just to kick people off health care. There couldn’t be a bigger difference between us in this race. I’m going to protect your preexisting condition coverage.”

Beshear made these comments during a debate on WLKY on Oct 26, 2019.

For more 2019 Election coverage, click 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.

Beshear Promises Change If Elected Governor Friday, Oct 25 2019 

Listen to the episode:


Democratic gubernatorial nominee and Attorney General Andy Beshear is locked in a close race with Republican incumbent Matt Bevin, according to a recent Mason-Dixon poll. With election day around the corner, WFPL’s In Conversation talked with Beshear about the race and his plans if he unseats Bevin.

Our guests were:

  • Attorney General Andy Beshear
  • WFPL Political Reporter Ryland Barton

Beshear says health care, pensions and education are important issues to Kentuckians, and many feel Bevin cannot effectively address those and other issues.

“What they’re looking for is a governor that listens more than he talks, a governor that solves more problems than he creates,” Beshear said. “They’re looking for someone that, instead of dividing us, can bring us together.”

Host Rick Howlett (Right) Attorney General Andy Beshear (Right)Kyeland Jackson | wfpl.org

Host Rick Howlett (left) with Attorney General Andy Beshear

Beshear has also been critical of Bevin’s education policies and his rhetoric toward teachers. 

Teacher protests of the state’s pension bill brought heavy criticism from Bevin, who said they broke the law. Beshear sued the Bevin administration for investigating the protests and has won support from the Kentucky teachers’ union.

On In Conversation, Beshear said if elected, he would immediately use his authority to restructure the state school board, rescind Bevin’s executive orders related to Medicaid and address inequalities in the state’s justice system, among other things. 

“We have disproportionate outcomes in our criminal justice. The numbers don’t lie, and we have to work every single day to change that,” Beshear said, adding that the state should re-evaluate incarceration laws and invest in disadvantaged communities.

Political Reporter Ryland Barton has been following the governor’s race, and says the state’s pension obligation has been a contentious topic in the state legislature. Barton said Governor Bevin has put more money into the pension system than his predecessors, and Beshear is focusing on potential new revenue to address pension needs.

“Now 15 percent of the entire discretionary state budget, the amount of money that lawmakers are dolling up between all the different parts of state government, is dedicated to the state’s pension system,” Barton said.. “[Beshear’s] proposal is to legalize casino gambling and tax it, and legalize online sports betting and all these other forms of gambling and taxing that money, to bring in more money to the state.”

WFPL asked Governor Bevin to be a guest on In Conversation, but his staff said his schedule is committed. .

Join us for In Conversation next week as we talk about Louisville Metro Animal Services’ new shelter and animal abuse registry.

Election 2019: Your Guide To The Kentucky Commissioner Of Agriculture Candidates Friday, Oct 25 2019 

Kentucky is one of 12 states that holds elections for agriculture commissioner, which facilitates and promotes the state’s $5.9 billion agriculture industry that has more than 75,000 workers.

Kentucky’s commissioner of agriculture in many ways is a marketer and advocate for the various agricultural organizations and associations in the state. The department also helps farmers and businesses grow various crops, monitors the needs and health of agriculture in the state, regulates hemp growing licenses and even inspects 60,000 gas pumps across the state.

The Kentucky Constitution requires a commissioner to be at least 30 years old and a state resident for at least two years. A commissioner is elected to a four-year term, limited to serving two terms.

Incumbent Republican Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles is a native of Georgetown, Kentucky. He says he is seeking reelection to expand the Kentucky Proud program, which markets locally-grown produce, livestock, and other products. Quarles also points to the expansion of the state’s hemp pilot program under his watch, a program first established under the previous commissioner, now-Congressman James Comer.

Quarles, who is 36, has a long academic and political resume. He completed three undergraduate, two master’s degrees and a law degree at the University of Kentucky. He holds a master’s degree in higher education from Harvard University, and completed a doctorate in education at Vanderbilt University.

Quarles previously served as a state representative from 2010 until 2015, representing Owen and Scott counties.

Quarles’ Democratic challenger is Robert Conway, who is also a native of Georgetown. Conway is also a University of Kentucky graduate and an eighth-generation farmer from Scott County. He currently serves as an operation manager for freight company C&S Transportation and served 12 years on the Scott County Board of Education. This is his first time running for state office. Conway defeated Joe Trigg in this year’s Democratic primary to advance to the general election.

Conway says he wants to save farms from bankruptcy amid a downturn in commodity prices, partially influenced by the ongoing international trade war. He has repeatedly claimed Kentucky has lost thousands of farms in the past decade.

He’s also a supporter of continued hemp cultivation and for legalizing medical marijuana, which he says could help people deal with pain and medical issues. If medical marijuana is legalized, he said he would allow each licensed farm operation to grow up to one acre of marijuana. Conway said that acre would generate “up to $40,000” for each individual farmer. 

Kentuckians also have a third option for commissioner in Libertarian candidate Joshua Gilpin. Gilpin is from Graves County in far west Kentucky. His social media profile says he’s the Chairman of the Libertarian Party of Graves County. In a Youtube video at the annual Fancy Farm picnic and political forum in 2017, Gilpin said he wanted to reduce the regulations controlling hemp cultivation. 

Gilpin did not respond to multiple requests for an interview. Here are Quarles’ and Conway’s responses, which have been edited and condensed for clarity.

Why are you running for agriculture commissioner?

Ryan Quarles:

“I have a proven track record. I’m a known entity. And also believe that during my administration, we have run a very inclusive administration. Where there’s a seat at the table big enough for everybody. I also believe that I’m the strongest candidate for this office because I grew up on a Kentucky farm. My family continues to farm today. It’s the primary source of income for my family growing up and continues to be so for my dad, and that separates myself from the competition. I also have a strong working relationship with the Trump administration. Something that I know for a fact the other two will not have this point, and also have a good track record with Kentucky General Assembly. We’ve passed over 20 bills since being in office, some of which were quite complex. And I had the leadership skills already in place to build consensus. They get Kentucky’s laws passed that are pro agriculture.”

Robert Haley Conway

“I want to truly promote a culture in the state. Now, we’re promoting agriculture but we’re not doing anything to make agriculture successful or to make it beneficial to the farmers right now. We’re losing roughly 1,000 farms here in the state of Kentucky and that’s not all due to urban encroachment that a lot of that has to do with people just cannot financially make it on the farm. And I think it’s one thing to run around and do photo opportunities and tell everybody how great farming is. But if you don’t find the root cause of why we’re not successful, then we’re going to continue to show the same result.”

 


What separates you from the other candidates?

Ryan Quarles

“Having a farm background is absolutely essential to being Commissioner of Agriculture. That’s why I’m so proud that I had the privilege of growing up on a family farm. I grew my own crops in high school, making $1 an hour and I was working for my dad. Paid for my first car, paid for college. By working on the farm, I’ve got plenty of memories, working on holidays growing up, and knowing for a fact that my family’s been farming in Kentucky since the 1780s. And that’s a tradition and heritage that I continue to rely upon while serving in office. And as Commissioner, I’m so busy, I work seven days a week, I try my best to get back out in the farm when I can but the strengths of the job and the advocacy that’s needed right now keep me busy, by going out on other people’s farms, putting the tailgate down and having those one on one conversations with their farmers. I’m proud of the farm upbringing that I had. I know the difference between a soybean and a green bean and that those are the sorts of memories that I have that continue to put me in the right direction as Commissioner of Agriculture.”

Robert Haley Conway

“Well, I think one of the things that separates me is that I am a total supporter of medical marijuana and he is on record of saying that he would follow the lead of the state legislature, which to me is really not a position at all. I totally support the legalization of medical marijuana. I don’t know why you would not want to do something that would make life a little bit easier, more tolerable for an individual because to me, that is political when it gets approved coming out of committee 17 to 1, which is a committee comprised of Democrats and Republicans, but the Republican leaders refuse to bring it to the floor for a vote that makes it political. And to be very honest about it, I think is too damn important to be political. It should be a moral implication. And I think you should take care of people that need help.”

Do you support the Trump Administration’s tactics of using tariffs to negotiate a trade deal with China? Why or why not?

Ryan Quarles

“The Trump administration continues to be an aggressive advocate for rural America. What we want is a fair trade deal. China’s one of 200 or so countries, they obviously are a big buyer of Kentucky agricultural goods. But it’s important that we have a trade deal that is fair, one that treats our farmers the same as other farmers around the world. And I think that the Trump administration standing up to the Chinese is admirable, because there’s a lot of things that have been left on the table in the previous administrations that are now being addressed. And one example of that is that when we send a load of soybeans to China, oftentimes they can renege on the contract, or they hold Kentucky farmers to a different standard than other farmers around the world. And so I know that the retaliatory tariffs are affecting the bottom line of Kentucky producers, especially as we go into harvest season, but it’s important to realize that we are making progress in Japan. We are making progress with other countries. And that the best thing that can happen for Kentucky farmers and 2019 is for Congress to ratify the new USMCA agreement with Mexico and Canada. Mexico’s already ratified it. Canada is getting closer. But if we can get that passed, it will demonstrate to China that we can complete trade deals on time, and it will give us an opportunity to help Kentucky farmers in the immediate future.”

Robert Haley Conway

“I think there’s ways to go about it, other than trying to feed your ego. Right now the federal government is paying billions of dollars to farmers — basically your bigger farmers, not your smaller ones that are truly at risk — because of the situation created by the tariffs. Here’s the thing, they [China] have already found some places other than us to supply their need for soybeans and corn. So even if there’s an agreement, chances are in order for us to get our foot back in the door, then we’re going to have to become competitive. So chances are, you’re going to have to renegotiate those price structures, which means the rates are going to drop, which means at the end of the day will not be a great deal for us.”


How should the state continue to support a sustainable future for hemp?

Ryan Quarles:

“I think Kentucky is establishing itself as a hemp hub. And because of that we will have a long term sustainable future with this crop. We do know there’s risk in the market and every speech I give and every orientation that our processors and growers sit through, talk about the financial risk of a crop that still has its market development that’s ongoing, and so we felt like we’d been responsible for bringing this crop back. We are currently advising the USDA and other federal agencies in a learning mode as well as 30-plus other states continue to contact Kentucky to get advice on how to grow and develop a hemp framework. I think that this will end up being a crop that farmers can put in rotation on their farm. I think it’s a crop that some farmers may decide is not for them. But right now in 2019, we’re going to continue to be the tip of the spear on hemp innovation. And the numbers speak for themselves. And we’ll talk about over 500 full time jobs, over $100 million in expected sales in 2019.”


Robert Haley Conway:

“I’m proposing a plan that we go to the old fashioned tobacco base-type program where every farm that has a farm number in the state of Kentucky it is considered a legitimate farm has within their ability to have a base assigned to their property. The difference is that you would not be able to take across county lines, you could not sell it if you do not grow it it just isn’t grown. That way everybody gets to share a piece of the pie and that would benefit eastern Kentucky which as we all know, needs desperate help in that area. The other thing is medical marijuana. If we do the legalization of medical marijuana, our proposal is that every farm — I don’t care who you’re related to, how much money you got, how big your farm is —  but every farm in the state of Kentucky would get to grow and equivalent of one acre.”

What do you consider the future of agriculture in Appalachia to be?

Ryan Quarles:

“Agriculture in Appalachia is already bright. Some of the best food I eat, some of the best cultural practices that identify who we are as Kentuckians come from eastern Kentucky. That’s why I was so proud just a few weeks ago at the store initiative to span Appalachia proud to have a footprint with eastern Kentucky when it comes to defining SOAR [Shaping Our Appalachian Region] and ARC [Appalachian Regional Commission] counties. Eastern Kentucky is also a primary source of hardwood, including white oak for our bourbon industry which is required by law. We’re also having conversations about the establishment of high tech greenhouses, one of which is app harvest. We have four large scale greenhouses either being built or under construction are open right now in Kentucky. A lot of them are locating in eastern Kentucky. Another thing that we’re trying to do to support our friends in Appalachia is to continue to let producers know there’s grants available for high tunnels for farmer market upgrades. And also we’ve been working closely with Congressman Hal Rogers’ office with implementation of 2018 Farm Bill to make sure that Appalachia is getting access to rural development grants and loans to help improve broadband internet to help make sure that the ag development board makes investments in eastern Kentucky, such as the Chop Shop which is processing all of our Kentucky Proud beef right now. And so as we continue into the second term we’ll continue to have an emphasis on eastern Kentucky and we’re proud of the process we’ve made with Appalachia Proud.”


Robert Haley Conway:

“The era of major corporations such as coal companies coming in and taking the wealth, and taking the resources and leaving abject poverty are behind. I think in eastern Kentucky we’ve done a really good job in the last 20 years, there’s better roads up there — and we still can do more, we can do better — but we have roads up there now. So it’s not an area that’s not accessible. You know, we’ve got the infrastructure, if we put it in place like one of the things we desperately need throughout the state. I live four miles outside of the fastest growing town in Kentucky and I do not have the internet. I want you to think about that. I live four miles outside of Georgetown and I do not have the internet. And I’ve looked at everybody.  Unless I want to go get a hotspot or something, that’s not what I want. I want Spectrum. Spectrum goes right past the house but we do not have the internet in Scott County. AT&T won’t service it. And until we can get things like that we’re not moving into the 21st century. So that’s all part of it, that’s part of our ag plan. We have to have the internet, we have to have the infrastructure in place to be able to do things.”

For more 2019 Election coverage, click here.

Judge Rules GOP AG Candidate Cameron Can Appear On Ballot Thursday, Oct 10 2019 

A judge says that Republican attorney general candidate Daniel Cameron will appear on the November ballot, ruling against a lawsuit that claimed Cameron did not have the required years of experience for the office.

Louisville resident Joseph Jackson filed the lawsuit last month, arguing that the two years Cameron spent as a clerk for a federal judge should not count as years spent as a practicing attorney.

Jefferson Circuit Court Judge Barry Willett ruled against Jackson in the lawsuit, saying that by Election Day, Cameron will have the requisite eight years of experience required by the Kentucky Constitution.

“There is no meaningful distinction between the professional responsibilities Mr. Cameron performed as a federal judicial law clerk and his responsibilities as legal counsel for Senate Majority Leader McConnell. Both positions involved ‘services rendered involving legal knowledge or legal advice,’” Willett wrote.

Cameron is a protégé of McConnell and worked for him between 2015 and 2017. Since then he has worked as a corporate lawyer for Frost Brown Todd in Louisville.

If elected, Cameron would be the second African American in state history to win a statewide election in Kentucky — the first being current Lt. Gov. Jenean Hampton.

The Kentucky Bar Association admitted Cameron on Oct 21, 2011 — a little more than eight years before Election Day on Nov. 5.

In a statement, Cameron said he was “thrilled to put this frivolous lawsuit behind us” and claimed that his Democratic opponent Greg Stumbo was behind the challenge.

“It’s sad that Greg Stumbo stooped to this level. He can’t win an election straight up so he tried and failed to cheat us off the ballot,” Cameron wrote in the statement. “For someone who talks about experience all the time it is funny that Stumbo and his cronies don’t understand the law.”

In a statement, Stumbo denied Cameron’s claim that he was involved in the lawsuit, but said that the challenge underscores Cameron’s lack of experience.

“I am not a party to this litigation and had nothing to do with the lawsuit, however, now Mr. Cameron admitted under oath how little law he has practiced,” Stumbo wrote.

“Kentucky voters deserve a candidate with decades of legal experience in real courtrooms, trying real cases at the highest levels. I have spent my life becoming a seasoned trial attorney in the courtrooms of this state on behalf of Kentuckians.  My opponent has never even prosecuted a traffic ticket citation.”

Stumbo is 67 and has also tried to make 33-year-old Cameron’s age and experience an issue in this year’s race.

Stumbo is a former House Speaker who previously served as attorney general from 2004 to 2008.

Sean Rankin, executive director of the Democratic Attorneys General Association, said in a statement that despite the ruling, Cameron has a “real lack of legal experience.”

“This process put a microscope on Cameron’s limited career with no experience in court. Voters took notice — and what they see is someone who could barely make it onto the ballot and someone who lacks enough experience to do the job of Attorney General,” Rankin wrote.

In his defense against the lawsuit, Cameron’s compared it to a 1995 challenge by Republican Will T. Scott, who sued to try and have Democrat Ben Chandler removed from the ballot in that year’s race for attorney general.

Scott unsuccessfully argued that Chandler didn’t have the required years of experience because he didn’t practice law while serving as Kentucky’s state auditor. Chandler remained on the ballot and won the race.

Republican Party of Kentucky spokesperson Mike Lonergan praised the ruling, saying Cameron is an “experienced attorney with a strong record of accomplishment” and also claimed that Stumbo was behind the lawsuit.

“We’re pleased to see the judge ruled that this election should be decided by the voters,” Lonergan wrote. “Greg Stumbo and his allies know they can’t win at the polls so they’ve turned to dirty political tricks like this absurd lawsuit. Kentucky voters have already rejected Stumbo before and we can retire him and his underhanded schemes once and for all on Nov. 5.”

This story has been updated.

In Preview Of Fall Campaign, Ky. Politicians Pulled No Punches At Fancy Farm Monday, Aug 5 2019 

Last weekend’s Fancy Farm political speaking event signaled the beginning of the fall campaign season in Kentucky, which is shaping up to be to be a knock-down, drag out fight.

Democrats dog-piled on Gov. Matt Bevin. Bevin is struggling with low approval ratings while running for reelection. Hecklers shouted “Moscow Mitch” during the entirety of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s speech.

Meanwhile, Republicans accused their opponents of being “socialists” and focused on issues like immigration and abortion.

Halfway through Bevin’s speech, he brought out a blown-up copy of an invitation to a fundraising event for Democratic opponent Andy Beshear that was hosted by the owner of Kentucky’s only abortion provider.

“Are you on the side of life? Or are you on the side of those who would take lives and profit from the blood money associated with it?” Bevin said.

Bevin is trying to become the first two-term Republican governor in Kentucky history, but he has the lowest approval rating of any governor in the country after a series of inflammatory comments about teachers and other gaffes.

Bevin has also been clinging to Donald Trump’s popularity in Kentucky, and has appropriated the president’s signature policy — immigration.

“Are you on the side of sanctuary cities? Or are you on the side of protecting the rule of law and securing our borders? Which side are you on?” Bevin said.

The speeches that happen at Fancy Farm are not your average political speeches. It’s less issues and more endurance sport.

For one, politicians have to try and rise above a rowdy crowd yelling at them. And then, it’s a no-holds barred barrage of attacks against their opponents.

Jacqueline Coleman, running mate of Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andy Beshear, called Bevin the “Christian Laettner of Kentucky politics.”

“They’re both privileged private school kids, they’re both infamous for taking cheap shots and they can dish it out, but neither one of them can take it,” Coleman said, referring to the legendary Duke Basketball player who was the bane of UK fans in the early 90s.

Nearly all the Democrats took shots at the top of the top of the ticket. But for the most part, Republicans shied away from talking about Bevin’s reelection, either focusing on their opponents or other issues.

Republican candidate for attorney general Daniel Cameron claimed that his opponent Greg Stumbo would make Kentucky a so-called “sanctuary state,” and criticized Stumbo’s long career in politics.

“Greg Stumbo is like the milk you have in the carton at the back of your refrigerator.” Cameron said. This carton has been spoiling for 30 years, and folks, it smells terrible!”

Bevin skipped the event for the last two years. And that’s where Democratic rival Andy Beshear started his jokes.

“Thank you St. Jerome and thank you Fancy Farm,” Beshear said. “And thank you to the governor for finally showing up. I guess we’ve got to thank the Koch brothers, too, for letting him.”

And then Beshear took a shot at Bevin’s “diss track” that he recently posted on social media while reminding the audience of Bevin’s frayed relationship with his Lt. Gov. Jenean Hampton.

“Governor, your staff let you do that and you fired Jenean Hampton’s folks?” Beshear said.

Throughout Fancy Farm, Democratic hecklers shouted “Moscow Mitch,” referring to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s refusal to take up election security bills.

McConnell was one of the few Republican candidates to mention Bevin’s reelection on stage.

And he addressed his Democratic hecklers…by not addressing them.

“I’m going to spend as much time talking about them as Kentuckians will voting for them this November…none,” McConnell said.

Updates From Fancy Farm: Hot Weather, Barbecue And Politics Saturday, Aug 3 2019 

Update: 6:06 p.m.

At this year’s Fancy Farm picnic, Kentucky politicians tried to sandbag their opponents by tying them to national issues.

Republicans warned that Democrats would bring “sanctuary cities” to Kentucky and accused them of being “socialists.”

Meanwhile Democrats accused Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell of supporting Russian interests while a crowd of hecklers chanted “Moscow Mitch” repeatedly during the event.

McConnell accused his detractors of wanting to “turn America into a socialist country.”

“Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell are never going to let that happen. That’s why I call myself the Grim Reaper,” McConnell said. “I’m killing their socialist agenda. But the first step in fighting those liberal schemes happens right here in Kentucky this year. We need to reelect Gov. Bevin.”

McConnell is running for reelection next year, but the main event of this year’s political contests is Gov. Matt Bevin’s attempt to become the first two-term Republican governor in Kentucky history.

Bevin repeated the old union refrain “which side are you on” to rhetorically ask the audience where they stand on issues.

“Are you on the side of sanctuary cities? Or are you on the side of protecting the rule of law and securing our borders? Which side are you on?” Bevin said.

“Are you on the side of life? Or are you on the side of those who would take lives and profit from the blood money associated with it?”

Attorney General Andy Beshear picked up on Bevin’s recurring metaphor that he’s shoveling manure that has built up in Frankfort.

“While you’re more show pony than work horse, you’ve left us a lot of manure. And the only thing we’re shoveling out of Frankfort this fall is you, right out of town,” Beshear said.

Beshear’s running mate, Jacqueline Coleman, called Bevin the “Christian Laettner of Kentucky politics,” referring to the infamous former Duke basketball player.

“At least Christian Laetenner has a winning record,” Coleman said. “Thanks to Andy Beshear, Matt Bevin hasn’t seen too many of those.”

Bevin’s running mate, state Sen. Ralph Alvarado, accused his opponents of being part of a “dynastic Democratic political machine.”

“I wasn’t born on third base with a silver spoon in my mouth. I wasn’t groomed for this like it was some sort of birthright,” Alvarado said.

Farther down the ballot, Republican candidate for attorney general Daniel Cameron, also accused his opponent of supporting “sanctuary cities.”

“I will never allow Kentucky to be a sanctuary state, Greg Stumbo will. I will uphold our pro-life laws, Greg Stumbo will not. And I will fight the drug crisis with every part of my body and being,” Cameron said.

Stumbo made fun of Cameron’s age, 33.

“The attorney general’s office is always open to children. We love it when they come to see the office. But Daniel, we don’t let children run the thing,” Stumbo said.

Republican Congressman James Comer, who isn’t up for reelection this year, painted Democrats in stark terms.

“If you are not an illegal alien, an able-bodied welfare recipient or a man who wants to use the girl’s bathroom, then the Democrats in Washington aren’t working for you,” Comer said.

Update: 4:15 p.m. 

As promised, a raucous crowd has amassed at the Fancy Farm picnic ahead of speeches by Kentucky’s politicians and candidates for statewide office.

More than an hour before the event began, the crowd divided into two camps and began delivering competing chants. Democrats rallied around their newfound moniker for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, shouting “Moscow Mitch” and waving posters like “Bully All The Time,” a critique of Gov. Matt Bevin’s bombastic style.

Republicans chanted “four more years” in favor of Bevin’s reelection and waved signs, one of which said “Own The Libs.”

At one point, both camps united in chanting “USA.”

The Kentucky Democratic Party sold merchandise featuring the “Moscow Mitch” nickname ahead of the Fancy Farm picnic. Three teachers wore fur hats with the slogan in the 90-plus degree heat.

Christina Trosper, a social studies teacher from Knox County, said she was “dying” in the heat but it was worth the sacrifice.

“My hat is an ode to Mitch McConnell and his apparent love for all things Russia and his hate for Kentucky,” Trosper said. “Mitch McConnell doesn’t seem to care about the miners and their plight and not getting paid.”

Pat Vincent, from Hopkins County, said she hoped Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andy Beshear would be able to defeat Bevin in this year’s election.

“They’re filling up that stage today with the best qualified candidates we’ve had in a long time. A lot of women on that stage today. And women will make the difference and western Kentucky will carry Andy Beshear through, just like it did primary night,” Vincent said.

Original post:

Republican politicians rallied their supporters Saturday at a breakfast ahead of the Fancy Farm political picnic as they try to build upon their historic control of Kentucky government during this year’s general election.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell urged the Graves County audience to reelect Gov. Matt Bevin, making him the first two-term Republican governor in Kentucky history.

“We’ve got them down, let’s finish them off,” McConnell said.

All of Kentucky’s statewide constitutional offices are up for reelection this year. Republicans currently control Kentucky’s offices of governor, lieutenant governor, agriculture commissioner, state auditor and treasurer. Democrats have the offices of attorney general and secretary of state.

Candidates and current officials are gathering Saturday in the rural town of Fancy Farm for an annual speaking event, where politicians give stump speeches in front of a rowdy crowd of hecklers.

This is the first time Bevin will attend the picnic since 2016, his first year in office.

Ahead of the event, Bevin told attendees of the Graves County Republican breakfast to “ignore the insanity,” saying “you don’t need to turn a family picnic into the exact opposite.”

Bevin said Kentucky Democrats are trying to avoid “nationalizing the race,” as he criticized the progressive “Green New Deal” proposal and so-called “sanctuary cities.”

“They’re embarrassed by their national party,” Bevin said. “And they refuse to repudiate them.”

Bevin is running for reelection with a low approval rating. A Morning Consult poll released last month showed him as the most unpopular governor in the country.

His opponent in this year’s race for governor is Democratic Attorney General Andy Beshear, who has sued Bevin over a variety of executive actions and bills he has signed into law.

Republican candidate for attorney general Daniel Cameron accused Beshear of being “more interested in suing the governor and the General Assembly than fighting for our law enforcement.”

McConnell also addressed criticism he has received for blocking two election security bills in the Senate. Democrats have tagged him with the nickname “Moscow Mitch” as a result and the Kentucky Democratic Party says it sold $200,000 worth of merchandise with the moniker in two days.

“I’m a pretty big target, but I’m a pretty tough guy” McConnell said. “I’ve been shot at by the best. But I’m still here. I’m ready to take them on.”

This story has been updated.