FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky Republican Gov. Matt Bevin’s first TV ad of his fall reelection campaign plays up the state’s job growth and his willingness to make tough choices while acknowledging some of those decisions “ruffled some feathers.”
The commercial also briefly shows Bevin with President Donald Trump — continuing the governor’s theme of touting his ties to the Republican president, who easily carried Kentucky in 2016 and remains a political force in the bluegrass state.
Bevin’s campaign said Wednesday that the commercial will debut statewide Thursday. Bevin faces a tough challenge in November from Democratic Attorney General Andy Beshear.
Beshear’s campaign has already been running TV ads for a month, and outside groups have been weighing in with their own commercials in an ad blitz leading up to the Nov. 5 election. Both campaigns say they will be on the air without interruption until Election Day.
Bevin’s ad portrays him as a political outsider who “ruffled some feathers” in making tough choices. It says before Bevin’s election, the state “forever seemed to be moving backward.”
The pugnacious governor’s popularity took a hit after he tried to overhaul the state’s public pension systems during his first term. Kentucky teachers staged massive rallies at the state Capitol last year to oppose those pension changes. Protests continued this year against some education measures. The demonstrations were part of a nationwide wave of teacher activism.
Bevin’s feud with education groups has been a big focus on Beshear’s campaign.
The governor consistently plays up the state’s economic growth during his stewardship, a theme continued in his first ad. The commercial says the state has added more than 50,000 jobs amid low unemployment during his term. It says the state “can’t afford to go back” — a reference to Beshear and his father, former Gov. Steve Beshear.
The state’s jobless rate was much higher at the same point of Steve Beshear’s first term, Bevin’s campaign said Wednesday. Steve Beshear — who served two terms preceding Bevin — guided the state through the nation’s worst economic downturn since the Great Depression.
“Kentuckians want to keep going forward with Bevin and Trump, not go backward with another Beshear in charge,” Bevin’s campaign said in a release Wednesday.
“It’s insulting to Kentucky families for Matt Bevin to refer to his four years of bullying and insulting everyone from teachers to preachers and even calling Kentucky’s kids ‘soft’ as ‘ruffled some feathers,'” Beshear campaign spokesman Sam Newton said in a statement. “The fact is that unemployment has risen in 99 counties over the past year. And in far too much of the commonwealth, Kentuckians have to work two or more jobs just to make ends meet. Matt Bevin is only making things worse for our struggling families by attacking health care, tearing down public education and trying to illegally cut pensions.”
The Democratic challenger’s campaign has been on TV since early August with ads touting Beshear’s faith and his proposals to protect health insurance coverage for Kentuckians.
An earlier version of this report incorrectly attributed Sam Newton’s quote to Andy Beshear.
(This story was originally published on September 4, 2019)