Bevin touts gun rights; Beshear talks education, health care
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Republican Gov. Matt Bevin promoted gun rights and Democratic challenger Andy Beshear promised to defend public schools and health care as the bitter rivals in the Kentucky governor’s race outlined clear policy differences for voters in the campaign’s final week.
With six days left before their Election Day showdown, Beshear launched a statewide bus tour Wednesday that started in Louisville and took him to eastern Kentucky. The Democratic attorney general is hoping to win over voters in the mountains, where President Donald Trump — a Bevin supporter — is extremely popular.
Bevin was at the state Capitol in Frankfort to receive an award from the National Association for Gun Rights.
In Louisville, Beshear declared that the future of public schools and health care for Kentucky’s neediest are at stake in next Tuesday’s election.
“It’s about every family that is one paycheck away from falling into poverty,” he said. “It’s about every family that’s concerned about taking their parents or their kids to see a doctor because of the cost.
“This election is about every family and making sure that Matt Bevin doesn’t turn the haves and the have-nots into the have-mores and the never-wills.”
It’s a sharp contrast to the upbeat message of economic growth coming from Bevin, who defends his record on education and health care and points to low unemployment, job creation and business investments during his term. Beshear counters that most of the job growth has been limited to Kentucky’s largest cities.
Meanwhile, Bevin portrayed himself Wednesday as an unwavering protector of Second Amendment rights in a state where gun ownership is cherished. Earlier this year, Bevin further endeared himself to gun-rights advocates by signing a bill allowing people to carry a concealed handgun without a permit or training.
Bevin told reporters on Wednesday that he is a strong proponent of gun training and views it as a personal responsibility for gun owners.
Bevin also weighed in against a proposal Beshear supports to keep guns away from people deemed as threats to themselves or others.
Beshear, the state’s attorney general, 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.
At least 17 states and Washington D.C. have enacted so-called “red flag” laws, which would allow courts to issue temporary orders barring someone from possessing guns based on a showing of imminent danger. Advocates say the laws have helped deter violent crime, and the idea is being promoted in Kentucky by a bipartisan group of state senators for consideration during the 2020 legislative session that begins in January.
Bevin said such a law would infringe on individual liberties.
“Nobody really knows what it means,” Bevin said. “What it does mean is an erosion ... of our rights to privacy, our rights to keep and bear arms, of our constitutional rights. And it is done arbitrarily.”
Looking ahead to Election Day, Kentucky’s secretary of state, Alison Lundergan Grimes, predicted Wednesday that just 31% of Kentucky’s registered voters will go to the polls — at or slightly above turnout in the 2015 governor’s election. Grimes based her forecast on absentee voting trends.
Beshear said he expects higher turnout, pointing to his campaign’s grassroots work and Bevin’s combative words about teachers and others who opposed his policy goals as a motivator for more people to vote.
“They (voters) are ready for a governor that listens more than he talks, that solves more problems than he creates and that would never engage in the bullying and name calling that we’ve seen,” Beshear said.
Bevin has sharply criticized teachers who used sick days to rally at Kentucky’s Capitol against his pension and education proposals. Some days, so many teachers rallied that some schools had to close.
Bevin said Kentuckians have a chance to deliver a final repudiation of an old-guard Democratic establishment by blocking another Beshear from becoming governor. Beshear’s father, Steve, is a former two-term governor who preceded Bevin.
“I think the people of Kentucky are fed up with it,” Bevin said.