GOP candidates for governor discuss nasty campaign - WDRB 41 Louisville News

GOP candidates for governor discuss nasty campaign

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The Republican candidates for Kentucky governor. The Republican candidates for Kentucky governor.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The last weeks of the Republican campaign for governor have been overwhelmed by charges of gutter politics, the influence of outside groups and issues of character.

The Washington Post is calling Kentucky's Republican primary the nastiest race in the country. So WDRB sat down with each of the candidates to talk about dirty politics.

We asked each of the four candidates how the campaign turned negative and whether it will hurt the eventual winner.

It all exploded May 5, when the Courier-Journal published allegations made by James Comer's college girlfriend, Marilyn Thomas, that the current Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner mentally and physically abused her when they dated in the early 90s. Comer immediately denied the claims; a denial he maintained when he sat down with us.

“No," he responded flatly when asked if he physically or mentally abused Marilyn Thomas. "And it's so unfortunate that an allegation like that would come out less than two weeks before the primary for governor."

Comer again pointed the finger at the campaign of rival Hal Heiner for spreading the story.

“The Heiner-Crosbie campaign, which has been pushing this, made a huge mistake because it's backfiring on them,” said Comer.

Comer says there is “no question” that the Heiner campaign is involved, but Heiner, again, denied it.

“We've had absolutely no connection. Domestic abuse is a serious issue, but we've had no contact with the young lady that's come forward. It's between Jamie Comer and the young lady. My focus is on what's possible in Kentucky, and I'm going to stay on that,” he said.

But both Comer and Matt Bevin insist the campaign began to take a bad turn when outside groups supporting Heiner begun running negative ads.

“Unfortunately, he has surrounded himself with some people who want to win at any expense. They will lie knowingly, they will be hypocritical, and they will do all this in an effort to simply win the game,” said Bevin.

Heiner turned aside suggestions that he is to blame for the campaign's nasty turn.

“Well, of the three campaigns, they're the only ones putting out negative mailers, negative robo-calls, negative TV ads. We've certainly seen from Matt he's no stranger to attack ads,” said Heiner.

“I've said nothing that's incorrect. Nothing that's not factually true. Nothing,” said Bevin.

“I said on day one I would run a positive campaign about ideas and achievement, but I would defend myself,” Comer said.

Will T. Scott is the one candidate who has not weighed in on all these controversies.

“I talk about tomorrow's problems. I'm talking about tomorrow's solutions. I'm not getting in the cat fight with the boys,” he said.

But despite all the animosity, they all pledge to support whoever wins and runs against presumed Democratic nominee Jack Conway.

“I can. And I plan on that person being me,” said Comer.

“I will support whoever comes out of this race,” Heiner said.

“My gracious, there's not one of the four of us who's not more eminently qualified to lead this state than Jack Conway,” said Bevin.

The candidates all say they want to move on from the charges and countercharges.

This week, WDRB will talk to each of them about jobs, education, pension reform and the Affordable Care Act, and then post the raw interviews to WDRB.com.

More: Republican gubernatorial primary hits sour note in televised debate

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