LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The men who want to be Kentucky's next governor faced off in Louisville on Wednesday morning.

Republican Gov. Matt Bevin and Democratic Attorney General Andy Beshear took part in a “Measure the Candidate” forum held by the Kentucky Farm Bureau, answering questions about the state budget, taxation, rural development and infrastructure. This was just the second time Bevin and Beshear have shared the stage, and the differences between them were on full display.

Bevin and Beshear briefly shook hands as the forum began, but it was the last time they would play nice. The clashed over Bevin’s handling of the pension crisis, for which Bevin blames previous administrations, including Beshear’s father, former Gov. Steve Beshear.

Bevin: “You should be very mindful of the fact there is a true cost to running this state."

Beshear: “You have to get the job done."

Bevin: “No, we're getting it done. I'll tell you."

The candidates also viewed Beshear's numerous lawsuits against the Bevin administration through a different lens.

“You might not have agreed with all my fights, but I bet you agree that I fight hard," Beshear told the audience. "I'm ready to fight for you and all Kentuckians."

“The reality is you blow a lot of smoke," Bevin replied. "You make a lot of promises. You file a lot of lawsuits. You fight this administration, and you fight this state for political reasons."

The two disagreed on most topics, including tax reform.

Beshear was critical of Bevin’s desire to eliminate the state income tax over time and replace it with a higher sales tax.

“I would warn you that anybody who says that we're going to move away from income taxes entirely and everything will be consumption tax — but we're going to keep your exemptions in place — you can't trust that,” Beshear said.

Bevin pointed to the economies of other states that base their revenue on consumption taxes.

“If you truly think it can't be done, why is Tennessee thriving?" Bevin asked. "Why is Texas thriving?” 

The two also had contrasting views on using tax incentives to lure new business into the state.

Beshear: “I am done giving tax incentives to out of state CEOs that are creating cut-rate jobs in Kentucky."

Bevin: “We need to attract outside capital. We need to use the right incentives to do it.”

Beshear also used the tax issue to take a shot at Bevin for refusing to release his tax returns.

“If we're going to get tax reform, it has to be led by someone that shows you his taxes and pays them on time,” Beshear said.

Bevin and Beshear also differed on charter schools.

Beshear: “We've got to make sure that we have a governor that's not supporting for-profit charter schools that will run your systems of education out of town."

Bevin: “This idea that somehow competition in education is bad for your community is nonsense."

Bevin drew a sharp line on social issues such as abortion.

“I strongly am supportive of life at every stage from the beginning to end,” he said. “Strongly pro-life.”

Beshear focused on Bevin and his clashes with his opponents.

“There will never be bullying or name-calling coming out the governor's office,” Beshear said.

Looming in the background of this campaign is President Donald Trump. Bevin has embraced Trump, who is popular in Kentucky, but he's now under fire for recent tweets some are calling racist.

“I will let the president speak for his own tweets. I will speak for any tweet that I put out,” Bevin said. “Do I think the president is racist? Absolutely not. I know him personally.”

Beshear was critical of Trump but treaded carefully, declining to characterize the tweets as racist.

“I think they were wrong and ugly, and he should have never tweeted them,” Beshear said.

The next time the two are scheduled to appear together is at the Fancy Farm picnic in western Kentucky on Aug. 3, where the knives will likely be even more sharp.

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Reporter

I cover a range of stories for WDRB, but really enjoy tracking what's going on at our State Capitol. I grew up on military bases all over the world, but am a Kentuckian at heart. I'm an EKU alum, and have lived in Louisville for 30 years.