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Trump To Headline Fundraiser For Kentucky Governor

J. Tyler Franklin

President Donald Trump will headline a fundraiser next week for Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin, who is banking on his close ties with the Republican president as he faces a tough challenge from a Democratic rival in a state that Trump dominated in 2016.

Trump will travel to Kentucky to attend the Aug. 21 fundraiser in Louisville, Bevin's campaign announced Monday.

"Gov. Bevin is thankful for President Trump's friendship and strong support," Bevin campaign manager Davis Paine said in a release.

Bevin consistently points to job growth and low unemployment during his term in his pitch to Kentucky voters. The governor received a congratulatory call from Trump earlier this year after steel producer Nucor Corp. announced it will build a $1.35 billion manufacturing mill in a rural Kentucky county. Bevin put the president on speakerphone so reporters could hear.

Paine said Monday that Bevin "looks forward to furthering that partnership as they continue to work together to move Kentucky forward."

Trump, who won Kentucky by a landslide in 2016, overshadows the governor's race. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell also has aligned himself closely with Trump as he prepares for his reelection campaign next year in Kentucky.

In the spring, Trump tweeted his support for Bevin and recorded a phone message to Republican voters statewide on the eve of the state's May primary election. Despite Trump's advocacy, Bevin won barely more than half the GOP vote.

Kentucky Democrats are trying to win back the governorship while the GOP is trying to sustain its recent dominance in the bluegrass state.

Kentucky is one of three states that will elect governors in 2019, along with Louisiana and Mississippi. A Bevin defeat this year would send shock waves through Republican circles nationally heading into 2020.

Last week, Vice President Mike Pence made an appearance with Bevin in southeastern Kentucky.

Bevin's approval ratings have slumped since his failed attempt to change the state's struggling public pension systems.

The combative governor also is trying to overcome some self-inflicted political wounds from his feuding with public education groups.

Bevin's comments about teachers and other public workers who opposed his ideas prompted thousands to protest at the state Capitol last year, closing schools in more than 30 districts statewide.

Statehouse protests continued this year as teachers rallied against education bills.

In the spring, Bevin's first political ad of the campaign played up his political kinship with Trump.

The ad showed Bevin alongside Trump. The two businessmen are similarly unconventional conservative politicians. Both favor social media over traditional media and attack critics fiercely.

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