HARD FOUGHT GOVERNOR’S RACE COMING DOWN TO THE WIRE
Lawrence County could be key in ‘close’ Governor’s race
LOUISA, Ky. With key Lawrence County Republican leaders putting up a much stronger fight than local Democrats, the voter party registration numbers could go out the window Tuesday as GOP candidate Matt Bevin and Attorney General Jack Conway race to the finish line neck and neck according to most state polls.
Local officials in some counties are expecting a light turnout for Tuesday’s general election as Kentucky elects its next governor. “I’m going to say 14 to 16 percent,” said Hardin County Clerk Debbie Donnelly of expected county voter turnout. Donnelly said there is so much talk about the presidential race and the myriad of candidates, voters are completely overlooking the election in Kentucky.
Bevin has led constantly in the Lazer Poll, a totally unscientic barometer of how candidates are faring, with Conway close behind.
Lawrence County has 18 precincts with Democrats hanging on to the majority 6,350 to the GOP’s 4,931 (a diference of 1,419 with 689 registered Independent voters according to the latest statistics. Females outnumber males in Lawrence County 6,113 to 5,855 men.
GOP growing 3x as fast as DEMS in state
Statewide, the total number of registered voters – 2,980,009 – beats the previous record of 2,944,603, set during the 2011 General Election, by more than 35,000 voters. Each of the political parties has seen an increase in registered voters since the November 2011 General Election. Democrats have grown their ranks by 0.48%, or 7,922 voters, from 1,639,005 to 1,646,927. Republicans have added 21,517 voters, growing 1.95% from 1,100,930 to 1,122,447. “Other” has increased by 5,967 voters, or 2.92%, from 204,668 to 210,635.
Bevin, Conway claim lead as election nears
By Joseph Gerth and Tom Loftus
MOUNT STERLING, Ky. — Republican Matt Bevin and Democrat Jack Conway continued their sprint to the finish line in Tuesday’s gubernatorial election as they campaigned in different parts of the state Saturday in an effort to get voters to the polls in a race that appears so close it will be decided by turnout.
Campaigning in Northern Kentucky, Bevin told groups of 30 to 50 people in Boone, Kenton and Campbell counties that his latest poll shows that he has grabbed a slim point advantage despite most public polls showing Conway with a 5 percentage point lead.
“The momentum has shifted. The gap has been closed,” Bevin told his core backers at the Boone County Republican Party headquarters. “We’re actually up a point as of yesterday.”
Bevin, who declined to release details of his tracking polls, traveled the region with 4th District Congressman Thomas Massie in an effort to rally Republican troops.
Conway, showing similar confidence as he campaigned east of Lexington, told crowds that their vote is a choice between the “mainstream and the extreme” and he, too, predicted a win on Tuesday.
Told of Bevin’s claim that he had taken the lead, Conway said his internal polls show him up by more than five points and then added, “It wouldn’t be the first time (Bevin) didn’t tell the truth.”
The campaign has grown heated in recent days as the two candidates sparred last Sunday in a debate at Eastern Kentucky University and then faced off again at Kentucky Educational Television in their most contentious meeting yet.
At each stop on his swing through Northern Kentucky, Bevin pleaded with his audience to do all they can to turn out the conservative vote on Tuesday. As they go door-to-door, Bevin said, his supporters should simply tell voters to “vote their values, not their party.”
To illustrate his point, he noted repeatedly that he has won the endorsement of Right to Life organizations while “Planned Parenthood is phone banking right now for Jack Conway.”
Bevin drew cheers from his audiences when he mocked Conway’s performance in Monday night’s debate on Kentucky Educational Television, a performance in which some criticized the attorney general for laughing repeatedly.
“Our side was proposing solutions and the other side was led by Mr. Gigglepants,” Bevin said. “Whenever there was a topic that was worthy of … discourse, he would just giggle and twitch and sweat a little. Can you imagine this man leading on behalf of our state, sitting down with the CEO of a large corporation?”
Conway began the day in Pikeville where he grew a crowd his campaign estimated at 150 at a breakfast, then moved on to Mount Sterling where he addressed about 60 people at a steakhouse.
There, he talked about his record, claiming responsibility for helping save the state’s tobacco settlement, closing down half of the state’s pain clinics and cracking down on child pornography on the Internet.
He also criticized Bevin for him performance on KET, which some said was overly confrontational, and for flashes of anger he’s exhibited in recent days, including an event in Glasgow where he publicly accused one of his attorney general’s staff members and her brother of lying about him and another incident after Sunday’s EKU debate in which he refused to answer questions from one reporter and then refused all reporters’ questions the next night.
“In these last few days, I’ve shown I’m the one who has the proper temperament to be the governor of Kentucky,” he said.
In an interview later, Conway said Bevin “has done a lot of yelling on this campaign and you don’t get to storm out of a Republican Senate caucus meeting when things aren’t going your way when you’re trying to work with the legislature when you’re the governor.”
In an interview after his stop in Boone County, Bevin rejected the suggestion that he has been hostile toward the news media.
“Now, do I always take questions from every person? No, I don’t,” he said.
Bevin said the dialogue between a gubernatorial candidate — or a governor — and the news media “needs to be done in a healthy, constructive and professional manner. And the members of the press corps who understand that will always have my ear.”
Bevin has refused to answer questions from several members of the media after their reporting angered him.
At a meet-and-greet event at the Firehouse Deli in Winchester where about 40 supporters gathered, Conway noted that he had an active “Republicans for Conway” organization that is headed by Tommy Willett, the judge-executive in Monroe County — the home of Bevin’s chief primary opponent, Agriculture Commissioner James Comer.
And he noted that Clark County Sheriff Berl Perdue Jr., another Republican, was in the back of the Deli as a show of support. Perdue said in an interview that the state Fraternal Order of Police had endorsed Conway and he believes they made the right decision.
“I support Attorney General Conway,” he said. “I think he’s our best choice for the future of law enforcement in the state. He has stood beside us and he’ll stand beside us in the future. … I just personally and professionally feel he’s our best choice.”
At both stops, Conway highlighted the fact that Bevin has twice said or suggested he wants to begin drug testing those who receive Medicare, the federal health insurance program for retirees. Bevin’s campaign has said that Bevin misspoke and was talking about Medicaid.
“I don’t think you should have to pee in a cup … in order to get Medicare,” he said.
Bevin, for his part, called on conservatives to deal a fatal blow to the political careers of three political families in Kentucky.
“With a simple check of the box we can remove from the political landscape of Kentucky forever all of the Conways, all of the Lundergans, and all of the Beshears in one fell swoop,” he said.