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Edelen Throws Support Behind Beshear After Primary Election Attacks

Ryland Barton
Kentucky Public Radio

After a nasty primary election, Democratic candidate for governor Andy Beshear campaigned with his former rival Adam Edelen at an event in Louisville on Wednesday.

Beshear, Kentucky’s attorney general, is trying to unseat Republican Gov. Matt Bevin, who has been dogged by a low-approval rating.

Edelen came in third during this year’s Democratic primary and previously attacked Beshear for being a “talking point politician” and representing the Boy Scouts of America in a sex abuse case while working for a private law firm.

But now Edelen is throwing his support behind Beshear, saying the primary election has made him a better candidate.

“We have different outlooks, we have different personalities. But the differences we have are dwarfed by the enormity of the challenges in front of us. And ladies and gentleman, that challenge is simply making Matt Bevin a one-term governor,” Edelen said at a Heine Brothers coffee shop in Louisville.

During the four-way Democratic primary, Edelen ran a progressive campaign that made combating climate change, defending abortion rights and decriminalizing marijuana possession central planks of his platform.

He did well in some parts of Louisville and Lexington, but won a majority of votes in only two of Kentucky’s 120 counties — his native Meade County and neighboring Breckinridge County.

Beshear has been trying to rally Democrats behind him — earlier this month he campaigned with his other former rival Rocky Adkins, who came in second during the primary and swept the eastern parts of the state.

Beshear said that Democrats need to unite because the state “cannot survive another four years of Matt Bevin.”

“While we may have had some differences in a primary, you saw all three candidates stand up there and say when Matt Bevin calls our teachers names and tries to tear down public education, it is wrong,” Beshear said.

Democrats still have a plurality of registered voters in Kentucky — 49 percent of the electorate compared to Republicans’ 41 percent, but the state has trended towards Republicans in recent years.

Even though polls show Bevin as the most unpopular governor in the country following a series of gaffes and inflammatory comments about teachers, he is close to President Donald Trump, who is popular in Kentucky, and plans to receive support from the White House during this year’s campaign.

Bevin announced on multiple radio programs Tuesday that Trump and Vice President Mike Pence will stump for him during the race for governor.

The Republican Governors’ Association, a group that supports Republican gubernatorial campaigns, released an ad on Wednesday featuring a clip of Trump praising Bevin.

Ryland Barton is the Managing Editor for Collaboratives for Kentucky Public Radio, a group of public radio stations including WKMS, WFPL in Louisville, WEKU in Richmond and WKYU in Bowling Green. A native of Lexington, Ryland most recently served as the Capitol Reporter for Kentucky Public Radio. He has covered politics and state government for NPR member stations KWBU in Waco and KUT in Austin.
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