- Associated Press - Monday, September 28, 2015

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - The Republican Governor’s Association has stopped running TV ads for Matt Bevin with a little more than a month to go in Kentucky’s competitive governor’s race.

The association has spent $3 million on six ads for Bevin, mostly attacking his Democratic opponent, Jack Conway, for supporting the policies of Democratic President Barack Obama. But with two other governor’s races this fall RGA spokesman Jon Thompson said the group is “re-evaluating what is best for us to do.”

“We continually re-evaluate what role the RGA plays of how helpful we can be,” Thompson said, adding the decision does not mean the group has lost faith in Bevin’s chances of winning. He said the group could go back on the air before November.

The move is a big blow for Bevin, who has aired just one TV ad of his own after spending more than $1 million of his personal fortune to win a four-way Republican primary in May. And it comes one week after Conway began airing a series of TV ads titled “In his own words” that splice together clips of Bevin contradicting himself on issues including education, agriculture, taxes and health care.

Whenever Conway aired a new ad over the summer, the RGA would usually respond. But not this time. Thompson said the move is normal given “multiple governor’s races” the group has to plan for. But the only other races on the calendar this year are in Mississippi and Louisiana. The association has not spent money in those states yet, although Thompson said the group could begin airing ads in the Louisiana governor’s race.

Bevin spokeswoman Jessica Ditto declined to comment on the RGA, saying the two groups are not allowed to coordinate their ad campaigns. But Ditto said Bevin’s campaign will begin airing a new TV ad on Wednesday following the campaign’s first ad last week, a 30-second spot that mimicked a football pregame show depicting Bevin as “Team Kentucky” and Conway as “Team Obama.” And, she added, Bevin was filming a third TV spot on Monday.

It’s unclear how much money Bevin has for his campaign. Candidates are not required to report their fundraising totals until Oct. 7. Bevin’s latest fundraising report in July showed he had just under $3,000 in cash available to spend. But since then Bevin has held several high profile fundraisers with Republican mega donors Joe Craft and Kelly Knight along with U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell, the Republican majority leader of the U.S. Senate that Bevin unsuccessfully challenged in the 2014 primary.

Tuesday, South Carolina Republican Gov. Nikki Haley is scheduled to attend a joint fundraiser in Lexington for Bevin and the Republican Party of Kentucky.

Kentucky Democratic Party chairman Patrick Hughes said the RGA’s decision is another sign Conway is the best candidate for Kentucky.

“Even Republicans recognize that ‘East Coast Con Man’ Matt Bevin cannot be trusted to serve as Kentucky’s governor,” Hughes said.

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