- Associated Press - Wednesday, May 13, 2015

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - Republican candidate for governor James Comer’s wife and about two dozen political supporters spoke on his behalf Wednesday, trying to take the spotlight off of abuse allegations leveled by a former girlfriend.

TJ Comer made her first appearance on statewide TV Wednesday in an ad where she talks directly into the camera and says her husband is “a loving husband and a proud father to our three children” and is “led by his faith in God.” She was scheduled to headline an event in Bowling Green billed as “Women for Comer” on Wednesday night.

“We decided to put myself out there,” Mrs. Comer said in an interview, adding that she had planned to be involved regardless of the abuse allegations. She said the allegations have had “quite a backfire effect on the other campaigns, so (supporters) are quite motivated.”

Julie Denton, a Louisville Metro councilwoman and former state senator, and former U.S. Rep. Anne Northup held a news conference on the statehouse steps with about two dozen current and former lawmakers to vouch for Comer’s character. Comer, 42, is currently the state commissioner of agriculture. He served in the state House from 2001-2012.

Denton also pointed to the years that Comer and McDaniel have spent in state government, saying they “don’t need training wheels on day one.”

Denton said she did not coordinate with the Comer campaign. But Mrs. Comer attended, and their message was remarkably similar to Comer’s latest ad: we know Jamie, and you can trust him.

“We know these gentlemen. We know these Kentuckians, we know that they are men of integrity,” Denton said of Comer and his running mate, state Sen. Chris McDaniel of northern Kentucky.

The allegations come from Marilyn Thomas, a woman who now lives in New York City but is from Kentucky and dated Comer while the two attended Western Kentucky University. She detailed the abuse allegations in a four-page letter to the Courier-Journal, saying Comer physically and mentally abused her and drove her to a medical clinic to have an abortion.

Thomas vowed the letter would be her last comment on the matter, and she has not responded to requests for an interview. But she has been active on social media, urging people not to judge her for telling the truth. And after Comer held a news conference to deny the allegations, she challenged him to take a lie detector test, according to the Courier-Journal.

Comer, 42, has forcefully denied that he abused Thomas. But he has stopped short of criticizing her directly, saving his ammunition for his Republican rivals who he believes have trumpeted the allegations in a shadow campaign.

Northup echoed those concerns on Wednesday, blaming Hal Heiner’s campaign. Heiner has denied any involvement with the story, but did apologize to Comer’s campaign after the Lexington Herald-Leader published emails between Heiner’s running mate, KC Crosbie and her husband Scott with a blogger who has been aggressively promoting the story.

“One has to wonder why (Comer’s campaign) keeps bringing these allegations up,” Heiner spokesman Doug Alexander said. “We are focused on winning this primary door to door and community to community, not by hurling negative attacks.”

Comer faces Heiner and Matt Bevin, both of Louisville, and Will T. Scott of Pikeville in the May 19 GOP primary.


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