- Associated Press - Wednesday, July 8, 2015

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - The Republican Governor’s Association swooped in to Kentucky governor’s race Wednesday with a statewide TV ad intended to boost nominee Matt Bevin as he struggles to keep up with Democrat Jack Conway’s fundraising.

Bevin had a little more $15,000 in the bank last month following a brutal Republican primary that he mostly paid for with his own money. Conway has more than $1.4 million, and he started spending it Tuesday with a pair of statewide TV ads touting his western Kentucky roots and his record as the state’s attorney general. The RGA ad began airing Wednesday morning.

“If someone is down big or up big it’s not our job to get involved. It’s our job when it’s close,” RGA spokesman Jon Thompson said, adding that the group has seen polls showing Bevin can win. “So we see this as an opportunity to make a difference and help Bevin out a bit. That’s why we’re getting involved now.”

Ben Hartman, Bevin’s campaign manager, said he did not know in advance about the RGA ad but that the campaign is glad to have their support and “we look forward to more of their support in the future.” And Hartman said he is not concerned about the fundraising disparity.

“This is a campaign and a party that is going to raise the funds that we need to win the election,” he said. “We’ll have the resources we need to deliver our message.”

Conway’s ads are his first of the campaign since he did not have an opponent in the primary. They re-introduce the former U.S. Senate candidate and two-term Attorney General to Kentucky voters, reminding them of his family’s Kentucky roots and touting him as a fiscal conservative.

“When times were tough, my budget was cut. But we did more with less,” Conway says in one 60-second spot. “(We) sued (President Barack) Obama to protect Kentucky coal and farms.”

Conway’s ad does not mention that he voted for Obama, was a delegate for him at two Democratic National Conventions and supported the signature piece of legislation from his presidency: the Affordable Care Act. All of that is made clear to voters in a 30-second spot from the Republican Governor’s Association set to air statewide on broadcast TV, cable and online.

“Jack Conway runs for governor as an Obama liberal with more vague promises. Sound familiar?” a narrator says over dark images of Obama standing at a lectern while Conway’s head floats by his right shoulder. “Conway supported Obama on Cap and Trade. It’s been called a national energy tax that could kill thousands of Kentucky jobs and hike our utility rates. Conway supported Obamacare, stating he would have been ‘proud to vote for it.’”

It’s the latest attempt from Republicans to nationalize a Kentucky election, where the GOP has dominated federal races but has been unable to wrest control of state government from the Democrats. In a state where Obama routinely has had disapproval ratings of 60 percent or more, making the race about the president has been an effective strategy for Republicans.

Conway supports the Affordable Care Act, which has given more than 400,000 people in Kentucky health insurance by expanding Medicaid and offering subsidies for some private insurance plans while also raising premiums. But campaign spokesman Daniel Kemp said Conway never supported the so-called “cap and trade” proposal that passed the U.S. House of Representatives in 2009, a federal bill that would have capped emissions and allowed companies to trade credits in order to meet the new limit. The bill was a big issue during Conway’s failed 2010 U.S. Senate campaign, when he said he could only support the bill if it protected Kentucky’s coal industry and electricity rates.

Kemp also pointed out that Conway has sued the Obama administration twice, joining other state attorneys general in lawsuits against the EPA over emissions for its coal fired power plants and rules regulating ponds and streams on farms.

“It’s not surprising that an ‘East Coast Con Man’ like Bevin has East Coast allies who are following his playbook: throwing out false accusations and hoping to distract from Bevin’s own very real scandals - like his refusal to release his tax returns,” Kemp said.

Conway released his tax returns last month. Bevin has declined to release his tax returns, with his campaign calling it a “side show issue.”


Watch Conway’s ad here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eIBIVyLGweQ&feature;=youtu.be

Watch the RGA’s ad here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WN1Bl1AhZHM&feature;=youtu.be

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