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This week in Kentucky politics, candidates for governor and attorney general both participated in televised debates. And a new poll shows Gov. Matt Bevin and Attorney General Andy Beshear tied ahead of next month’s election.

We talk about the race in week’s edition of Kentucky Politics Distilled.

 


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Democrat Andy Beshear's push to legalize casino gambling in Kentucky is facing strong resistance from two leading Republican lawmakers, including one who supported the idea previously.

Beshear, who is running for governor, says Kentucky could reap $500 million-plus in yearly revenue by allowing expanded gambling. He wants the money to support public pension systems.

Senate President Robert Stivers and Majority Floor Leader Damon Thayer said Thursday that the proposal would be "dead on arrival" in the Republican-dominated Senate.

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A new poll shows Gov. Matt Bevin and Attorney General Andy Beshear in a dead heat ahead of next month’s gubernatorial election.

The same polling firm showed Bevin trailing Beshear by eight percentage points last December.

Now, 46 percent of likely voters say they’ll vote for Bevin, 46 percent say they’ll vote for Beshear and 7 percent are undecided.

Bevin leads among men, older and rural voters while Beshear has more support with women, younger voters in metropolitan areas, according to the poll.

J. Tyler Franklin

Eight minutes into the governor’s debate on Tuesday, moderator Shannon Cogan urged the audience at Lexington’s Singletary Center to remain silent. The candidates’ verbal jousts elicited whoops, boos, cheers and rare bits of laughter through the hour-long debate reflecting an audience as clearly divided on policy as the two men on stage.

Republican Gov. Matt Bevin and Democratic challenger Andy Beshear found little common ground during the debate on the University of Kentucky campus; that was evident on the hot-button issue of abortion.

Ryland Barton

Former White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders threw her support behind Gov. Matt Bevin’s reelection campaign during an event in Louisville on Monday.

Sanders praised Bevin for his backing of President Donald Trump and said voters need to reelect him to build up “a great base of support ahead as we go into what we know is going to be a very difficult 2020 race for the president.”

“This is the beginning and it starts with all the people right here,” Sanders said.

J. Tyler Franklin

Kentucky’s candidates for attorney general squared off in their first televised debate Monday night, arguing over each other’s experience and how the office should treat potentially unconstitutional laws passed by the legislature.

Republican candidate Daniel Cameron argued that his connections to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell — who he used to work for — and President Donald Trump — who has endorsed him — make him the best candidate for the job.

 


Ryland Barton

Gov. Matt Bevin held a press conference Friday to remind voters that he opposes abortion and has signed several anti-abortion bills into law.

Standing next to a poster that proclaimed him as “America’s most pro-life governor,” Bevin accused reporters of not reporting on the fact that his opponent, Democratic Attorney General Andy Beshear, supports abortion rights.

“The sad reality, if we don’t gather people and put this in your face to this degree, you don’t cover it,” Bevin said.

Ryland Barton

The Kentucky Education Association is calling for a state investigation into political emails teachers in several rural Kentucky school districts received at work.

The teachers in at least eight districts received emails criticizing Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andy Beshear over the last two weeks. The emails went to the teachers’ public school email addresses and were sent from an unknown supporter of Republican Gov. Matt Bevin. Bevin has said that his campaign was not behind the effort.

Teachers are not allowed to use their emails for political purposes.

Sergio Martinez-Beltran | WPLN

Gov. Bill Lee is defending his decision to declare Oct. 10 a "day of prayer, humility and fasting."

The announcement of the declaration has been received with mixed emotions, and some groups are pushing back on it.

Lee says the idea of a day of prayer is to create unity across the state. 

 


The Russian government's interference in the 2016 U.S. elections singled out African Americans, a new Senate committee report concludes.

Using Facebook pages, Instagram content and Twitter posts, Russian information operatives working for the Internet Research Agency had an "overwhelming operational emphasis on race ... no single group of Americans was targeted ... more than African Americans."

Ryan Van Velzer

Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin said Friday he would accept help from a foreign government to investigate corruption regardless of whether or not it involved a political rival.

Bevin’s comments came during a press conference with the express purpose of antagonizing journalists into asking Democratic gubernatorial candidate and Attorney General Andy Beshear about his stance on the impeachment of President Donald Trump.

“Does he support impeachment of the president or not? Yes or no?” Bevin said. “It’s not complicated. Why is it none of you have demanded this answer of him?”

Hampton Pushes Back on Reasons for Being Dropped from Ticket

Oct 4, 2019
J. Tyler Franklin

Kentucky Lt. Gov. Jenean Hampton pushed back Friday against Gov. Matt Bevin's explanation for dropping her from his reelection ticket, saying she was unaware of any disagreements about her priorities until the governor discussed their political split at a tea party meeting.

The Republican governor told tea party activists meeting Thursday in Louisville that he and Hampton didn't see eye to eye on where Hampton's time was best spent, the Courier Journal reported.

Hampton, who has sued Bevin for the firing of her two top assistants earlier this year, staunchly defended her work as lieutenant governor and said she was unaware of any concerns about her priorities in office.

On a September afternoon at Western Kentucky University, pop culture mingled with politics during a Rock the Vote registration drive.  A recording of Taylor Swift's "Look What You Made Me Do" played in the background, as Jeb Veeck with College Republicans manned an information table on campus.

"Are you thinking about joining College Republicans?", he asked a student.

As a Republican, Veeck has a lot of company.  In Kentucky, the GOP has been outpacing the Democratic party in terms of new voters for many years. 

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Kentucky arts teachers are asking lawmakers to require that all public schools provide visual and performing arts classes.

State law currently only requires high schools to provide art classes — one credit — though many local school districts have arts requirements for elementary and middle schools.

A group of arts educators called the Kentucky Coalition for Arts Education is pushing for the bill, called the Arts Education Equity Act, ahead of next year’s legislative session. A similar version of the bill was proposed but never received a hearing this year.

 


House Democrats are set to launch a new phase of their impeachment inquiry on Thursday when former Ambassador Kurt Volker, until recently a top State Department representative to Ukraine, is scheduled to meet with investigators.

Then, on Friday, the intelligence community's inspector general, Michael Atkinson, is due on the Hill.

More witnesses are expected next week, all for depositions behind closed doors with members of Congress and their staff.

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