LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Republican candidate for Kentucky governor Hal Heiner is denying any involvement in a damaging story about rival James Comer.

Accusations of dating violence against Comer exploded during a statewide radio debate.

It's the first time the Republican candidates for governor had been together since the Comer story broke on Tuesday, and when the subject came up, things got nasty.

During the debate on Matt Jones' Kentucky Sports Radio Show, Comer again denied abusing his college girlfriend.

"Did you have a relationship with that woman?" asked Jones.

"I had a relationship in college for four months," Comer responded.

"Did you, in the course of that relationship, ever lose your temper?" pushed Jones.

"No," said Comer.

On Tuesday, the Courier Journal reported on a letter it received from Marilyn Thomas claiming that Comer mentally and physically abused her when they dated at Western Kentucky University.

"That's dirty politics at its worst," said Comer.

Comer is laying blame at the feet of rival Hal Heiner, accusing his campaign of spreading the story.

Jones asked Comer if he believed Heiner was part of the story coming out.

"I certainly hope not, but his campaign was, yes," said Comer.

"I had absolutely nothing to do with it,” responded Heiner.

Heiner said when he learned that the husband of his running mate, KC Crosbie, had met with a blogger who was pushing the story, he dealt with it and apologized to Comer.

"We've run a clean campaign for 61 weeks. We have been directly on target talking about what's possible for the future of Kentucky. You ask anybody in our campaign group, we're not touching anything related to character, and won't," said Heiner.

But Matt Bevin also jumped in, claiming Heiner told him months ago about the Comer rumors.

"You told me that yourself, Hal. You told me in your office to my face. The reality is Hal Heiner is not who he pretends to be," said Bevin.

Afterward, Heiner defended himself against the double-barreled charge of dirty politics.

"The way we're running this campaign is no one in this campaign should have any contact with anyone that's talking about personal issues," he said.

The fourth candidate, Will T. Scott, largely stayed out of the argument over the Comer story.

Comer says he is moving forward with a lawsuit against the Courier Journal.

The candidates did talk issues, for the most part agreeing.

They all said they would vote for whomever wins the May 19 primary.

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