LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Attorney General Andy Beshear won the Democratic gubernatorial nomination with 38% of the vote in Tuesday’s primary election.
Beshear was trailed by House Minority Floor Leader Rocky Adkins, who won 32% of the vote, and former state Auditor Adam Edelen, who took 28% of the vote, in the primary, according to unofficial results. Beshear held a 23,468-vote lead over Adkins in the unofficial results.
Beshear’s victory sets up a head-to-head contest with Gov. Matt Bevin in the Nov. 5 general election. The two have been at loggerheads since winning their offices in 2015.
Beshear has made his court battles with the Republican governor a key talking point in his campaign. But Bevin hasn’t been shy about tossing his own jabs at the first-term attorney general, notably for hiring a man as his top lieutenant who was later convicted of accepting bribes during his work in the administration of former Gov. Steve Beshear, Andy Beshear’s father and Bevin’s predecessor in the office.
In his acceptance speech, Beshear pivoted to his Republican rival and offered sharp criticism of Bevin's four years in office.
"He has bullied our teachers, our first responders and our social workers," Beshear said. "He's called them names, and he has shut them out of the Capitol that is their house, but we are not going to let him distract us. We are not going to let him pull us away from the issues that matter most to people."
Beshear will need to contend with Bevin's support from President Donald Trump, who carried Kentucky by nearly 30 points in 2016.
Vice President Mike Pence has campaigned for Bevin twice during the primary, which the Republican won with 52 percent of the vote, and Trump recorded robocalls on the governor's behalf a day before GOP voters hit the polls.
A statement released by Bevin's campaign referenced Trump, saying the pair "has grown the economy resulting in over 50,000 jobs leading to the lowest unemployment in Kentucky history."
"Andy Beshear brags about voting for Hillary Clinton and will oppose the President at every opportunity," Bevin campaign manager Davis Paine said in a statement. "While Governor Bevin is moving our state forward, Andy Beshear is a failed Frankfort career politician who will bring Kentucky back to the failed liberal policies of yesterday."
Both Adkins and Edelen said they would work to unify Democrats around their party's nominee.
Beshear said that's something he aimed to do as the Democratic standard-bearer in the Nov. 5 election.
"These next five months and the next four years are about you," Beshear said. "And I'm going to fight for you every day."
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