Tag Archives: Jack Conway

Kentucky Gubernatorial Race
Challengers Emerging

By Jim Ellis

Unpopular Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin (R)

Jan. 9, 2019 — Blue Grass State politics are beginning to boil, all centered around the 2019 governor’s race. With the candidate filing deadline fast approaching on Jan. 29 for the May 21 statewide primary, several individuals are announcing that they will challenge unpopular Gov. Matt Bevin (R), including a Republican state legislator who is expected to make his formal declaration today.

Though the governor has said he intends to seek a second term, and did so again a week before Christmas, the fact that he has yet to file a 2019 campaign committee has fueled speculation that he may decide to retire. Bevin was elected in 2015 with a relatively substantial 52.5 – 43.8 percent victory over then-Attorney General Jack Conway (D) after upsetting then-agriculture commissioner and now US congressman, James Comer (R-Tompkinsville), by just 83 votes in a May Republican primary that drew almost 215,000 voters.

Bevin’s popularity ratings, however, have largely been upside-down throughout his tenure in office. According to the Morning Consult quarterly national gubernatorial approval rankings that were released just before the November elections in mid-October, Gov. Bevin ranked 46th on the nationwide list, with a 30:55 percent positive to negative ratio.

None of those finishing below the Kentucky governor on that particular scale in October remains in office. The least popular, according to the survey, Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin (R), was ineligible to seek a third term last November. Republican Kevin Stitt replaced her. Connecticut Gov. Dan Malloy (D) did not seek a third term and Democrat Ned Lamont held the office. Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner (R) was defeated for re-election, and Alaska Independent Gov. Bill Walker withdrew before the election because his political situation was hopeless.

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Bevin Wins Big in Kentucky; Election Night Belongs to Incumbents

Nov. 5, 2015 — Republican venture capitalist Matt Bevin, whom the Republican Governors Association abandoned in late summer because of what the organization’s leadership said was a poorly run campaign, came up a big winner Tuesday night in defeating Democratic Attorney General Jack Conway. Bevin’s victory margin was 53-44 percent.

The major institutions from both parties were wrong about the race. The RGA pulling out, only to return with a late $2 million ad buy, and the pollsters providing support for the analysis that Conway had the advantage were proved incorrect by a substantial margin.

About a week before the election both Survey USA and Western Kentucky University found Conway to be holding a 45-40 percent lead, almost the exact opposite of the final result. Vox Populi, which released the poll closest to the election, correctly found Bevin gaining momentum going into Election Day. Their last ballot test projected the candidates tied at 44 percent but the sample seemed to possess a slight Republican skew. The actual results, however, proved the Vox methodology, as it related to turnout model projection, sound.

In winning, Bevin is only the second Republican to become governor since World War II ended. The only other GOP winner was former Rep. Ernie Fletcher (R-KY-6), who held the governor’s mansion for one term after winning the 2003 election.

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Rand Paul’s Dilemma

Nov. 3, 2015 — It’s no secret that Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) has under-performed in the presidential contest, and the question on most political observers and analysts’ minds is when will he exit the race? Unlike all of the other candidates, Sen. Paul must defend his elected position in 2016. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) originally faced the same decision, but long ago announced that he would forego running for a second senatorial term in order to fully concentrate on his presidential campaign.

A new Vox Populi poll (Oct. 26-27; 618 KY registered voters) surveying the Kentucky electorate on the eve of their gubernatorial election (Tuesday, Nov. 3) also tested Sen. Paul in a hypothetical re-election effort. According to these results, Paul only maintains a 47-38 percent lead over state auditor, Adam Edelen (D), who is merely a prospective Democratic candidate. The Democrats’ first choice to challenge the incumbent is outgoing Gov. Steve Beshear (D), but he has given no indication of having any interest in the federal position when his final term ends in January.

Based upon the governor’s results, the Vox polling sample might have a slight Republican skew, meaning Paul’s situation could conceivably be more precarious. The governor numbers find Republican Matt Bevin tied with Attorney General Jack Conway (44 percent apiece), which is considerably better than the other recently published polls: last week both Survey USA and Western Kentucky University projected Conway as a 45-40 percent leader.

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Hillary Storms Back; Kentucky Close

Oct. 29, 2015 — The first Democratic debate is proving to be an early turning point for former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Prior to that event, Clinton was reeling and facing looming challenges ahead. Her strong performance may have at least partially contributed to Vice President Joe Biden’s decision to not enter the race. Her performance before the Benghazi Committee also helped her, and its momentum is a contributing factor to now launching her to a commanding lead in the latest Iowa polls.

Loras College, which released their Republican Iowa results earlier in the week, now reports a huge Clinton advantage over Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. According to this data (Oct. 19-22; 500 likely Iowa Democratic Caucus attenders) the former First Lady is now taking a massive 62-24 percent lead over Sanders among those questioned in the Iowa poll. This is quite a reversal of fortunes considering that the Vermont self-proclaimed socialist had been leading in Iowa polling before the debate.

Monmouth University, in the field just after Loras (Oct. 22-25; 400 likely Iowa Democratic Caucus attenders), confirms the latter’s result, finding even a slightly better 65-24 percent split in Clinton’s favor.

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No Clear Winner in Kentucky
GOP Gubernatorial Race

May 20, 2015 — Yesterday the highly contentious Blue Grass State Republican gubernatorial was decided … sort of. With no run-off system in Kentucky election law, the three major candidates who were in a virtual three-way tie in polls before the election wound up with about the same result after the election.

State Agriculture Secretary James Comer was viewed to be the early leader in the race, but accusations from former Louisville Metro Councilor Hal Heiner that Comer physically abused a girlfriend while in college effectively turned the race upside down. Charges and counter-charges flew between the two men for weeks, even including the appearance of the former girlfriend, and the after-effects weakened both candidates. And while the campaign turned nasty, businessman Matt Bevin, the wealthy investor who unsuccessfully challenged Sen. Mitch McConnell in last year’s Republican primary, crafted a positive strategy designed to propel him above the fray created between the other two. You may remember that in the 2014 race, polling showed Bevin running close to the veteran senator but, in the end, the nomination contest evolved into a McConnell landslide.

But this time, the businessman’s plan clearly worked, and it may well have carried him to the nomination. From more than 214,000 Republican votes cast last night, Bevin clings to an 83-vote lead with 100 percent of the precincts reporting. Each man attracted approximately 33 percent of the vote. Heiner, who placed third with 27 percent, conceded. Former state Supreme Court Justice Will Scott finished a distant fourth at seven percent.
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