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“From GOP ‘Con Man’ To Newly Elected Governor”: Health Coverage For Kentuckians Was On The Line, And They Appear To Have Lost

Under two-term Gov. Steve Beshear (D), Kentucky has been one of the best-run states in the nation. Not only is the Bluegrass State’s unemployment rate at a 14-year low, but Kentucky has been so successful in implementing health care reform, it’s cut its uninsured by over 40%.

Perhaps the state’s voters grew tired of success and decided to go in a different direction.

Voters in Kentucky elected Republican Matt Bevin as governor Tuesday.

Bevin beat Democratic Attorney General Jack Conway. Unofficial results from the Kentucky State Board of Elections had Bevin beating Conway 52.52% to 43.82% with all 120 counties reporting Tuesday night.

Independent Drew Curtis was also on the ballot, and garnered 3.6% support – not enough to affect the overall outcome. Statewide turnout was only about 30%, meaning that over two-thirds of the state’s voters didn’t bother to show up at all.

Bevin’s road to the governor’s office was, for lack of a better word, improbable. A year ago, the right-wing candidate, who’s never served a day in public office, launched a primary fight against incumbent Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). Republicans quickly labeled Bevin a “con man” who lies “pathologically.” The first-time candidate was exposed a man who lied about his educational background, and who even struggled in the private sector – his business needed a taxpayer bailout.

At one point, he even delivered a speech at a cockfighting gathering and then lied about that, too.

Bevin lost that primary. A year later, he’s a governor-elect.

The smart money bet against him. Indeed, even as this year’s race unfolded, the Tea Partier seemed on track to lose. In September, the Republican Governors Association scaled back its investments in the Kentucky race, and as recently as mid-October, Bevin’s own internal polling showed him trailing.

Complicating matters, the GOP candidate “created a nightmare for Kentucky’s political reporters” by lying – about a wide variety of issues – on an almost habitual basis, and then creating an “enemies list” of journalists who challenged the accuracy of his falsehoods.

And yet, voters in Kentucky yesterday overlooked all of this and handed Bevin a relatively easy victory.

What happens now is likely to have a major impact on many of his constituents’ lives. One of the central tenets of Bevin’s odd platform has been scrapping Medicaid expansion, which would have the effect of taking away health care benefits from many low-income families statewide. And because outgoing Gov. Steve Beshear (D) used executive orders to create much of the state’s health network, the new right-wing governor-elect will have the power to undermine the health security of a significant chunk of Kentucky’s population rather quickly.

The question is simple: will he? This sets the stage for the the first real test of whether far-right officials are prepared to hurt their own constituents, on purpose, to advance a partisan goal. It’s one thing for Republican state policymakers to block Medicaid expansion from taking effect, but in Kentucky, the Affordable Care Act has already been fully implemented – and it’s working beautifully.

Bevin’s stated goal is to roll back the clock, consequences be damned. Coverage for over 400,000 struggling Kentuckians was on the line in yesterday’s election, and as of last night, they appear to have lost.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, November 4, 2015

November 5, 2015 Posted by | Affordable Care Act, Kentucky, Matt Bevin | , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

“From ‘Con man’ To Governor?”: The Republican Nominee For Governor In The Great State Of Kentucky

A year ago, Matt Bevin was seen as a rather ridiculous figure in Kentucky Republican politics. He’d launched a primary fight against incumbent Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), which led the GOP establishment to go after Bevin with a vengeance.

The results weren’t pretty. Bevin was labeled by leaders of his own party as a “con man” who lies “pathologically.” The first-time candidate was exposed as a man who lied about his educational background, and whose business needed a taxpayer bailout. By Primary Day, Bevin lost by 25 points, and his career in politics appeared to be effectively over.

A year later, however, Kentucky Republicans will have to stop calling him a dishonest con man and start calling him their nominee for governor. The Lexington Herald-Leader reported this morning:

After Thursday’s recanvass of votes cast in the Republican primary for governor, Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes said that there were “no substantial changes” and that she thought Matt Bevin would be the GOP nominee when the vote is certified June 8.

This morning, Bevin’s primary rival conceded the race. Bevin will now take on state Attorney General Jack Conway (D) in November, in the race to replace outgoing Gov. Steve Beshear (D).

McConnell, who characterized Bevin as a dangerous loon just last year, issued a statement this morning that said, “I congratulate Matt Bevin on his victory and endorse him for governor.”

It’s just such an improbable scenario. Even this year, the GOP gubernatorial primary was supposed to come down to state Agriculture Commissioner James Comer and former Louisville Metro Councilman Hal Heiner. But when the top candidates turned on each other, they ended up tearing each other down, clearing the way for Bevin.

I honestly can’t think of a comparable recent situation in which a state party viciously tore a guy down one year, only to scramble to build him back up less than a year later.

As for whether or not Bevin might actually become governor, we’ll find out soon enough – this has instantly become the most interesting race of 2015 – but as the process continues, I’m reminded of my favorite Matt Bevin story.

In early 2014, as regular readers may recall, Bevin accepted an invitation from the Gamefowl Defense Network and he delivered a speech to several hundred attendees. Asked later for an explanation, the GOP candidate claimed ignorance, saying he thought he was addressing a states’ rights group and had no idea he was speaking to pro-cockfighting activists.

The event’s hosts soon after explained that Bevin’s defense was literally unbelievable: the “entire rally” was devoted to the issue and “there was never any ambiguity” about the point of the gathering organized by the Gamefowl Defense Network.

Bevin told reporters he was “the first speaker” at the event and left before he realized what the Gamefowl Defense Network was up to. It turns out, that wasn’t true – the group’s director was the first speaker and he made it abundantly clear what the gathering was all about.

Bevin also told reporters he didn’t address the issue of cockfighting itself, which also turned out to be untrue – he specifically told attendees at the end, “I support the people of Kentucky exercising their right, because it is our right to decide what it is that we want to do, and not the federal government’s.”

Making matters slight worse, when msnbc originally asked Bevin about his appearance, he argued, “It wasn’t a cockfighting event, that’s where you all need to start telling the truth about what happened.”

Yes, telling the truth about it is important.

Bevin eventually apologized for the whole mess. Now he’s the Republican nominee for governor in the great state of Kentucky.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, May 29, 2015

June 1, 2015 Posted by | Kentucky, Matt Bevin, Mitch Mc Connell | , , , , | Leave a comment

“No Visible ‘Enthusiasm’ At McConnell Rally”: Roughly The Feeling Of A Quaker Worship Meeting

We’re at that stage of the election cycle when the redundancy and cynicism of campaigns really begins to grate on those forced to pay a lot of attention to them–e.g., reporters. Clearly MSNBC’s excellent Irin Carmon reached the limit of her endurance during a rally for Mitch McConnell in Kentucky where it sure sounds like everybody was going through the motions and hoping for next Tuesday to arrive:

The event featuring Sen. Mitch McConnell was billed as a “Restore America Rally.” As rallies went, it had the rough feeling of a Quaker worship meeting. As campaign events went, the candidate’s name was hardly mentioned.

McConnell spoke halfway through the gathering and left without taking questions or staying to see co-headliner Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal. His speech was not lofty. “There’s only one change that can happen this year and that’s to change the Senate,” he said.

“Where are our students?” asked one of the opening speakers, by way of rallying the young people. Two hands — one of which appeared to belong to an elementary school-age boy — went up.

Ambivalence about McConnell himself was the subtext — the main point at the rally was the need to beat the Democrats. Matt Bevin, who had challenged McConnell from the right in the primary, spoke about the importance of the race, mentioning McConnell’s opponent Alison Lundergan Grimes. He declined, however, to actually endorse McConnell, or even say his name….

Enthusiasm matters in an election, but it isn’t everything.

Indeed, if “enthusiasm” is the deciding factor in Kentucky, Mitch is in real trouble. But we’ve known that all along. He’s survived all this time by driving up the negatives of opponents and making himself acceptable–and inevitable. It would be nice to see that strategy fail for once.

 

By: Ed Kilgore, Contributing Writer, Political Animal, Washington Monthly, October 30, 2014

October 31, 2014 Posted by | Kentucky, Mitch Mc Connell | , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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