- Associated Press - Tuesday, May 12, 2015
Voters get close look at GOP candidates in televised debate

LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) - Kentucky voters got their first look at the Republican candidates for governor Monday night in the only statewide televised debate of the race, which touched on James Comer’s college girlfriend, Hal Heiner’s campaign tactics and Matt Bevin’s political loyalties.

The hourlong debate pitted Comer, Heiner, Bevin and Will T. Scott against each other in a roundtable-style discussion on Kentucky Educational Television one week from the May 19 primary, giving many voters their first up-close look at a campaign that has been largely waged at county Republican Party dinners and lunchtime forums at colleges and civic clubs. And it gave each candidate a unique opportunity to best position his campaign heading into the election’s final week.

For Comer, it was his best chance to address allegations of abuse from his former college girlfriend. Marilyn Thomas was quoted by the Courier Journal last week as saying that Comer had mentally and physically abused her. Comer forcefully denied the allegations in a news conference last week. Monday night’s debate might have been the first time some voters even heard about the accusations, since his rivals have not questioned him about it or run any attack ads on the issue.

“We’ve addressed these issues. I think the ultimate jury is the voters and I’m confident … that people believe me,” Comer said.

For Bevin, it was an opportunity for him to shed his image as a tea party contrarian and put himself forward as a statesman who can rise above the grit of partisan politics.

“Up until about a month ago, we had a good civil discourse. Then one candidate - and everybody knows which candidate it was - they decided to soil the bed and it’s a shame,” Bevin said, referring to Heiner and a nonprofit group that has paid for negative TV ads on his behalf.


Paul announces support from New Hampshire representatives

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) - Twenty Republican state representatives in New Hampshire - 8 percent of the GOP caucus - are throwing their support behind Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul’s presidential campaign.

Paul’s team announced the endorsements Monday during a campaign swing through New Hampshire that lasted less than 12 hours. Paul addressed a small group of business owners in Manchester and then hosted a town hall in Londonderry before heading back to Washington, D.C., for Senate votes. He outlined his standard campaign themes - shrinking government and reining in its powers - at both stops.

Paul is the first Republican candidate to release a lengthy list of supporters in New Hampshire, home to the first presidential primary. The newly released list includes representatives from Bedford to Keene, many with libertarian-leaning political views. State Sens. Andy Sanborn, of Bedford, and Kevin Avard, of Nashua, also are backing Paul’s candidacy.

“We really want someone who is brave enough to stand up for the Republican platform in this state,” said Rep. Victoria Sullivan, of Manchester.

Sullivan said she likes Paul’s desire to give control back to the states.

“That was the intention of our Founding Fathers,” she said.


More than 5,100 have voted absentee in May 19 primaries

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - More than 5,100 people have already voted in Kentucky’s May 19 primaries for governor.

The secretary of state’s office said 3,388 people have voted absentee in person and another 1,766 have cast absentee ballots by mail. Another 1,820 absentee ballots have been issued but not returned yet.

Tuesday is the deadline to request mail-in absentee ballots from your local county clerk. For mail-in votes to count, the clerk must receive the ballot by 6 p.m. local time on Election Day. May 18 is the last day to vote absentee in person.

This primary is unusual because while there is an open seat for governor, likely Democratic nominee Jack Conway faces little opposition. Four candidates are seeking the Republican nomination in a tight, contentious race.


Suspect’s family contacted law enforcement before chase

BARDSTOWN, Ky. (AP) - Hours before police say a Kentucky man stole a pickup truck and rammed three police cruisers in a Mother’s Day chase that ended when he was shot, his family had contacted law enforcement about his mental condition, authorities said Monday.

The 25-year-old suspect was in intensive care at University of Louisville Hospital, a day after he smashed a vehicle into an auto dealership in Bardstown, stole a pickup truck, tried to disarm an officer and left a trail of three demolished squad cars, including one that burst into flames, police said.

Three officers suffered minor injuries.

The suspect, identified as John K. Fenwick of Bardstown, was not armed but used the stolen truck as a weapon, Bardstown Police Chief Rick McCubbin said. Fenwick was shot by a Bardstown police officer and later by a Nelson County sheriff’s deputy, McCubbin said.

Charges against Fenwick are pending but had not yet been filed because of his medical condition, Kentucky State Police Trooper Jeff Gregory said. He did not disclose how many times Fenwick was shot, saying it was part of the investigation.

Nelson County Sheriff Ed Mattingly said his office was contacted by Fenwick’s family within 24 hours before the chase, claiming that Fenwick was suffering from a mental illness.

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