Republican’s gubernatorial 
race to the bottom

The race for the Republican gubernatorial candidate is wide open between three candidates with just a week to go until primary election day, Tuesday, May 19. While Attorney General Jack Conway is holding the Democrat’s torch, waiting for his opposition, there is a real race for Kentucky Republicans.

According to a Survey USA Poll in early March, the race was within the margin of error for the three leading Republican candidates with a quarter of the likely voters undecided. And while the victor is sure to receive an unprecedented number of millions of dollars from outside-Kentucky donations — notably two wealthy (Koch) brothers — they will need every dollar to compete with Conway — if for no other reason than these three have been running for the last few months and still lack the statewide name recognition and enthusiasm, much less their party’s support, to topple Conway. But Conway is, and always will be from Louisville, which will always be an issue in the rest of Kentucky.

Here are the three Republicans:

Matt Bevin, a self-proclaimed “true conservative,” Tea Party standard bearer, who “challenged” Mitch McConnell’s Senate seat last year (but fell 25 points short), is back and striking a similar tone. Bevin is campaigning on “pro-business, right-to-work legislation,” which means Kentucky will be the latest right-to-work state if he is elected. This also means that he is anti-worker, anti-middle class, anti-worker’s safety and does not understand that Kentucky has recieved national recognition for its ability to attract relocating businesses while maintaining strong labor conditions.

The other major strike is that Bevin continues to oppose the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) which has brought health insurance to half a million Kentuckians. On his website, Bevin says, “As governor, I would close the KYnect state exchange and facilitate the transition of enrollees into the federal healthcare exchange.” The very next headline reads “Enact state-based health care reforms.” Beyond the problems with doing away with KYnect — as well as the medicaid expansion, for which he advocates — these two concepts are too incongruent for an honest man to fathom.

As for the real important issues, the difference between him and Conway, as Bevin said of Conway and his running mate in the KET debate, “They are lawyers, liberal and live in cities.”

Bevin is simply another mouthpiece-Republican. In terms of understanding issues that face Kentucky, he is no match for Conway. His only chance is that he can claim to be from somewhere other than Louisville.

Former Louisville Councilman Hal Heiner is unquestionably the most prototypical politician in this race and probably the most disingenuous of the candidates. He has donated $4 million to his campaign to run as an “outsider,” against President Obama, and “put career politicians last and Kentucky families first,” according to his ads (this coming from the man who has spent most of the last 13 years running for or holding elected office).

Like Bevin, Heiner also opposes Obamacare, while claiming to stand up to Washington. Once again, while Obamacare is a tremendous success in Kentucky, it is in large part because of Governor Beshear’s willingness to work with the Federal government, not undermine it. Heiner is also pro right-to-work … while touting his private-sector background and understanding how to make Kentucky attractive to businesses.

If Conway can run a solid campaign, Heiner has no chance against him. He loses the Louisville “attack” against Conway, is too much of a politician and won’t be able to rally the conservative base to turn out in large enough numbers.

State Agriculture Commissioner James Comer, a State Representative for 11 years before being commissioner the last three, has a strong record in Frankfort, the best understanding for how Frankfort and the job of Governor works, and he is not from Louisville.

However, he too is pro right-to-work and opposed to Obamacare and the Medicaid expansion … shocker I know. He too is running ads saying, “Barack Obama doesn’t care about Kentucky … our coal families, or our way of life.”

In the KET debate he said of Conway, “[He] and I disagree on almost every issue.” Jack may have had some rocky campaigns in the past, but nobody can question his intelligence and his performance on the job. I assure you, Mr. Comer, you do not want to be the anti-Jack candidate, because he will eat you up. Although you’re not from Louisville, so you have that going for you.

Whichever Republican comes out victorious Tuesday, I hope he runs as an honest opponent to Conway. Kentucky will never work its way into the future if we elect the lowest common denominator, and these Republican candidates are racing to be just that.