A national Democratic-leaning group is wading into Kentucky’s 2019 governor’s race, launching a week of digital ads that urge voters to reject Gov. Matt Bevin.
The 40-second “Boot Bevin” ad by American Bridge uses news clips of Republican critics of Bevin, including GOP primary challenger state Rep. Robert Goforth, who announced earlier this week he’d run against Bevin. The Republican governor has yet to file the paperwork to start raising money for a second term.
Bevin on Thursday sought to dampen speculation that he wouldn’t run, reiterating to business leaders Thursday at the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce’s annual Chamber Day Dinner in Lexington that he will seek reelection but hasn’t settled on a running mate.
By dragging his heels, the governor has opened the door for other Republicans to consider the race.
In addition to Goforth, U.S. Rep. James Comer, R-Tompkinsville, has said he is seriously considering the race. Comer had previously said he would not challenge Bevin in a primary, but told the Associated Press Thursday that he would be open to reconsidering, saying Bevin was in “worse shape than I realized.”
Comer said he has been fielding calls from several Kentucky Republicans and told the Herald-Leader last month that he would be able to easily find a running mate for lieutenant governor.
One of the rumored running mates is State Sen. Max Wise, R-Campbellsville. When asked in an email if he has been in talks with Comer about running on the same ticket, Wise dodged the question.
“Jamie Comer is a friend, great congressman, and would be an excellent governor for Kentucky,” Wise said. “We’ve talked a lot about the 2019 governor’s race, and if Gov. Bevin doesn’t run, Jamie is someone I would enthusiastically support in any way he wants.”
Comer’s 2015 running mate, State Sen. Chris McDaniel, R-Taylor Mill, said he has not spoken with Comer about running with him in 2019.
American Bridge, a Democratic Super PAC, said the ad is targeted at swing voters, playing up critics who point to Bevin’s unpopularity with voters. A Mason-Dixon poll last month showed Bevin trailing or tied with two of the Democratic candidates officially in the race. He trailed Democratic Attorney General Andy Beshear by eight points and was within the margin of error against Democratic House Minority Leader Rocky Adkins.
“Matt Bevin is one of the most corrupt and unpopular politicians in America and Kentucky voters are ready to show him the door,” said American Bridge spokesperson Zach Hudson. “If there’s one thing Republicans and Democrats can find common ground on, it’s that it is time to boot Matt Bevin.”
The ad marks the first time American Bridge has been involved in a Kentucky gubernatorial race.