Governors Race: GOP Debate Preview

-Matt Young

Its time for some Obama bashing.

Central Kentucky residents and UK students will have an opportunity on Wednesday the 15th to hear the four Republican candidates for Governor debate issues ahead of the May, 19th primary election. The four candidates will participate in a public debate at the KCTCS auditorium in Versailles, KY, 310 N Main Street at 6:30pm.

Citizens can expect a stirring performance as the race begins heats up from a simmer to a full boil. James Comer, Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner, and the presumptive front runner has seen unexpected challenges, first from Hal Heiner, a former Louisville City Councilman, sitting in the lead, according to the March Bluegrass Poll, with 28 percent of likely voters. Louisville businessman, Matt Bevin surprised many by throwing his hat into the governors race after unsuccessfully challenging Mitch McConnel for the Republican Senate nomination last year. Bevin also matched Comer with 20 percent in the Bluegrass Poll. Will T. Scott, former Kentucky Supreme Court Justice is the fourth candidate in the Republican gubernatorial field. Scott, a distant fourth, taking only eight percent in the Bluegrass Poll, has excited the public with events such as parachuting into a events. With a quarter of likely voters from the Bluegrass Poll still undecided the race could still break toward any of the four candidates.

Heiner faced some heat recently for commercials released by a 501(c)4 Political Action Committee friendly to his campaign attacking Comer and Bevin. This tension manifest itself during the April, 8th debate in Louisville, in what has otherwise been a cordial primary contest. The attack ad against Bevin, which looked strikingly similar to those run against him during his Senate bid, has previously had most of its claims debunked by fact checkers. Comer criticized Heiner for the ad, which highlighted the farm subsidies he has received, by countering that Heiner had received more per-acre subsidies at his farm. Both Comer and Bevin called for Heiner to denounce the ads, but the only distance Heiner would put between the ads and himself was to say they were not his ads. Scott wisely declined to join the scuffle.

While attendees can expect this issue to resurface, there will also be issues a-la-carte raised at the debate. Among the hot primary issues are the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare, exchange known as Kynect, dealing with Kentucky’s pension crisis, what to do about the Common Core education standards, and reforming the Kentucky tax code. There will also be plenty of jabs thrown at President Obama, as the four candidates debate the best way for a governor to combat his agenda and regulations in the state.


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