Politics Kentucky governor looks for last-minute boost from Trump

02:30  05 november  2019
02:30  05 november  2019 Source:   msn.com

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) — Republican Gov. Matt Bevin basked Monday in the campaign finale he craved — an election-eve appearance with President Donald Trump hours before voters settle Kentucky's closely watched governor's race between Bevin and Democrat Andy Beshear.

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The Monday evening rally at Rupp Arena reinforced one of Bevin's main campaign themes — his alliance with Trump, whose popularity surpasses the governor's in the state.

Trump tweeted support for Bevin on Monday morning, saying he "has worked really hard & done a GREAT job." Thousands of people, many wearing Trump shirts and hats, gathered inside the Lexington arena hours before the rally.

Beshear, the state's attorney general, spent the day campaigning in western Kentucky. The presidential rally didn't throw Beshear off his strategy of making the race about state issues. The challenger stuck to his themes of improving public schools, creating better-paying jobs and protecting health care and public pensions. Beshear planned to finish the day with an evening rally in Louisville, a Democratic stronghold where he needs a big turnout.

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"People try to distract us with national issues and get us thinking about things other than our well-being," Beshear said in a Monday radio interview on WKDZ. "Our families should be doing so much better. And I'm going to make sure they do."

While Bevin reveled being in the media glare of Trump's visit, Beshear's campaign pointed to its get-out-the-vote effort built over months of work by volunteers. Beshear's campaign said Monday it reached a milestone when Beshear knocked on the one millionth door by his campaign to ask people for their votes.

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Bevin sounded confident about his prospects for a second term and said the president's eleventh-hour appearance would give him a boost.

"I think we're going to win, regardless," the governor told reporters. "I think we'll win even more, with this kind of wind in our sails."

Beshear accused Bevin of dividing people, pointing to the governor's feud with teachers who opposed his pension and education proposals. Beshear promised to be a governor who "listens more than he talks, who solves more problems than he creates and would never engage in the type of bullying and name calling we've seen."

Continuing his strategy of nationalizing the race, Bevin urged the boisterous crowd at the Trump rally to send a message to congressional Democrats advancing the impeachment of the president. He said they were making "a mockery of the political process."

Bevin played up his support for Second Amendment rights in a state where gun ownership is cherished. He lashed out at so-called "red flag" laws, which allow courts to issue temporary orders barring someone from possessing guns based on a showing of imminent danger. Such laws might be "safe sounding" but infringe on rights, he said.

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It's one of many sharp differences between the two. Beshear calls such a measure a step toward greater public protection. He said it's consistent with his support for gun rights but gives due-process rights to the person seen as a risk.

In the campaign's closing days, Beshear downplayed the spillover effect from Trump's rally into voting the next day across the bluegrass state.

"This race isn't about what's going on in the White House, it's about what's going on in each and every home across Kentucky," Beshear said. "And our voters know that a governor can't impact federal-type issues."

Bevin regularly sought to hitch himself to Trump's popularity among Kentuckians in campaign ads, tweets and speeches — a strategy intended to rev up his conservative base. The governor called for a crackdown on illegal immigration and a ban on "sanctuary cities." He promoted his conservative credentials by touting his opposition to abortion and support for gun rights.

The election will settle a grudge match between Bevin and Beshear that spanned their terms in office. Wielding his authority as the state's top lawyer, Beshear filed a series of lawsuits challenging Bevin's executive actions to make wholesale changes to boards and commissions and sought to block Bevin-backed pension and education initiatives. In the highest-profile case, a Beshear lawsuit led Kentucky's Supreme Court to strike down a Bevin-supported pension law on procedural grounds last year.

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