- Associated Press - Saturday, May 16, 2015

FALLS OF ROUGH, Ky. (AP) - Three days before Kentucky’s Republican primary for governor, three candidates have a chance to win.

Matt Bevin, James Comer and Hal Heiner are in a tight race to decide who will represent the Republican party in November against likely Democratic nominee Jack Conway. Will T. Scott is also running but public polls show he has fallen back from the lead pack.

Saturday, the campaigns were earnestly seeking votes throughout the state.


In a remarkably close race, the candidates are often in close contact.

Saturday night, all four candidates spoke at the 2nd Congressional District Lincoln Dinner at the Rough River State Park Lodge, shuffling through the buffet line with each other while their TV ads pound each other on the airwaves.

James Comer thanked Matt Bevin and Will T. Scott for “running respectable campaigns.” He did not thank Hal Heiner, who was sitting directly in front of him and has a TV ad now based on allegations from Comer’s college girlfriend that he abused her.

Heiner did not mention his fellow candidates. But he did mention Jack Conway, the likely Democratic nominee, looking past Tuesday to a potential general election matchup in November.

And Matt Bevin did thank all of the candidates, including Heiner, for putting themselves “into the arena.” It was a departure from his last race when he refused to publicly endorse U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell after a bruising primary.

But the candidates likely did not pick up many votes. At the start of the dinner, the master of ceremonies asked all elected officials or former elected officials to stand up. More people were standing than sitting.


In Bowling Green, Hal Heiner portrayed himself as a political outsider able to boost the state’s economy in a speech to about two dozen supporters in the club room of a minor league ballpark.

“We need somebody from outside Frankfort to bring in business principles and new ideas into this government,” Heiner said.

Amid the final flurry of television ads, Heiner emphasized the grassroots outreach of his supporters as a way to help him win the nomination in what’s expected to be a race with an extremely low voter turnout.

“An email to five, 10, 20, 30 friends, people that know you, is so powerful,” he said. “It’s just a transfer of trust that takes place.”


In Fort Mitchell, James Comer’s running mate Chris McDaniel focused on “four of fours,” or people who have voted in each of the last four primary elections.

McDaniel, a state senator from northern Kentucky, and Republican state Rep. Diane St. Onge knocked on doors in an upscale neighborhood. Comer’s campaign believes these people are the most likely to vote and the most likely to vote for Comer, the only candidate in the race that has won a statewide election.

At one house fliers were piled up on the front porch. McDaniel picked them up and found a door hanger for Hal Heiner, one of Comer’s opponents that started airing an attack ad against Comer and Matt Bevin on Friday.

“That’s aged,” McDaniel said, looking at the faded Heiner door hanger. “That’s been here for weeks.”

He added a Comer door hanger to the collection and put them both back on the door.


In Louisville, Republican Matt Bevin hung out with fellow veterans Saturday at an event raising awareness about suicide among former military members. Bevin, a former Army captain, said he would be sympathetic to veterans’ issues if elected.

Asked how he could make a difference, Bevin said, “Start by putting a veteran in charge of veterans’ affairs.”

Veterans are an important voting bloc in Kentucky, and the state is home to two large Army installations in Fort Campbell and Fort Knox.

“There are more and more veterans that are coming home,” Bevin said. “This is going to continue to be an issue for some time. And I think a governor can have a significant role.”

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