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KY-Gov: Politico, “The 2019 governor's race that has Trump's team sweating”

It’s been a busy and hectic month for me already but I wanted to take today to do some catch-up diaries on the races going on this year and next year. So earlier this month, Politico posted this piece about how a certain idiotic Governor from a deeply red state is making Trump’s team very nervous:

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Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin is a presidential phone-buddy and White House regular who’s become one of President Donald Trump’s loudest surrogates.

He’s also one of the most unpopular governors in the country, facing a treacherous reelection in November. And the White House, fearing that an embarrassing loss in a deep-red state would stoke doubts about the president’s own ability to win another term, is preparing to go all-in to save him.

The Trump team has watched with growing concern as Bevin’s approval ratings have plummeted to the low 30s. With the presidential campaign kicking into gear, the Kentucky governor’s race is likely to be the most closely watched contest in the run-up to 2020, and Trump aides acknowledge alarm bells will go off if one of the president’s closest allies loses in a state that Trump won by nearly 30 percentage points.

The White House is in further discussions with Bevin’s team, which has drawn up a list of requests that includes multiple Trump campaign stops in the state. During a backstage chat with Bevin at last week’s National Rifle Association convention in Indianapolis, Pence pledged to the governor that he would have all the help he wanted, according to a person familiar with the conversation.

“You want to be winning and not losing in red states ahead of your reelection bid,” said Scott Jennings, a Louisville-based Republican strategist who served as a top political aide in the George W. Bush White House. “I think having the president come and remind everyone what’s at stake is important.”

I can’t blame Trump’s people for sweating about Bevin’s re-election prospects. Bevin’s been getting a lot of lousy press coverage:

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As Gov. Matt Bevin spoke Saturday during the trophy presentation at Churchill Downs following Country House's controversial Kentucky Derby victory, boos rained down from the crowd.

“This was an exciting finish to say the least, the home of fast cars, fast horses and the most hospitable people on the earth,” Bevin said during his brief speech, in which he also welcomed visitors to the state.

Granted, it's not an enviable task to speak before angry fans.

But were the boo birds targeting Bevin, who was ranked the nation's least popular governor in a recent Morning Consult poll?

Or was the outrage directed at the decision by stewards to disqualify Maximum Security, who finished first but was ruled to have interfered with the running paths of several other horses as they came around the race's final turn?

Perhaps no one can say for sure.

But that didn't stop some in the social media world from taking jabs at Kentucky's Republican governor.

“Matt Bevin saying Kentuckians are hospitable while everyone boos as loudly as possible was the most fitting end to the oddest Derby ever,” Kentucky Sports Radio founder Matt Jones wrote in a tweet Sunday.

While Republican Governors like Brian Kemp (R. GA) and Mike DeWine (R. OH) were able to get abortion bans from the Dark Ages passed, Bevin couldn’t even get that passed in Kentucky:

U.S. District Judge Joseph H. McKinley Jr. ruled that the 2018 law would create a “substantial obstacle” to a woman's right to an abortion, violating constitutionally protected privacy rights.

Kentucky's only abortion clinic challenged the law right after it was signed by Republican Gov. Matt Bevin. A consent order had suspended its enforcement pending the outcome of last year's trial in which Bevin's legal team and ACLU attorneys argued the case.

The law takes aim at an abortion procedure known as “dilation and evacuation.” The procedure was used in 537 of 3,312 abortions in Kentucky in 2016, according to state statistics.

McKinley wrote that standard D&E procedures account for virtually all second-trimester abortions in Kentucky. The law would “unduly burden” women seeking the procedure, he said.

“If the Act goes into effect, standard D&E abortions will no longer be performed in the Commonwealth due to ethical and legal concerns regarding compliance with the law,” he wrote.

The result, the judge said, would be that women lose “the right to obtain a pre-viability abortion anywhere in the Commonwealth of Kentucky after 15 weeks.”

ACLU attorney Alexa Kolbi-Molinas said the judge's ruling “affirms that health, not politics, will guide important medical decisions about pregnancy.”

“Laws like this are part of an orchestrated national strategy by anti-abortion politicians to push abortion out of reach entirely,” she said in a statement.

Bevin spokeswoman Elizabeth Goss Kuhn said the governor's legal team will appeal McKinley's decision to the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. She predicted the law “will ultimately be upheld.”

And the Kentucky State Supreme Court keeps kicking Bevin’s ass on this:

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Gov. Matt Bevin improperly withheld a financial analysis of his proposed overhaul of Kentucky’s pension systems in late 2017 that showed his 505-page draft bill would have made the massive fiscal shortfall even worse, a judge has ruled.

According to the still-secret analysis, enacting Bevin’s pension changes would have delayed by four years the schedule by which the Kentucky Retirement Systems reached full funding levels, wrote Franklin Circuit Judge Phillip Shepherd, who was permitted to review the document in his chambers.

Likewise, Bevin’s changes would have forced employer contribution rates to go higher for longer than the current KRS plan of simply paying the full actuarial required contribution every year, Shepherd said.

“Though the actuaries do not express opinions about the merits of the proposal, the numbers do not lie,” Shepherd wrote in a decision handed down Thursday.

“While the actuarial study of the governor’s proposal may be embarrassing to the administration in that it reveals substantial fiscal and economic problems with the governor’s proposal, the Open Records Act requires disclosure even if it causes ‘embarrassment to public officials or others,’” Shepherd continued.

Shepherd ordered the state budget office to release the analysis, prepared by consulting firm GRS, to Ellen Suetholz, a former state government attorney and member of the Kentucky Public Pension Coalition.

The Bevin administration will appeal the decision, general counsel Steve Pitt said in a statement.

Even Kentucky Republicans sense that Bevin is toxic:

As Gov. Matt Bevin works to find the votes to pass a new pension bill during a special legislative session, former House Speaker Jeff Hoover is working toward a different goal.

He's letting his fellow Republicans in the Kentucky House majority know that he opposes Bevin's version of the bill.

In a Thursday email obtained by the Courier Journal, Hoover emphasized a concern that several legislators of both parties have about the bill — that it will likely diminish the retirement benefits anticipated by many veteran employees of quasi-governmental agencies if an agency opts out of the Kentucky Retirement System.

“The current proposal is very unfair to current state employees” who were hired prior to 2013, Hoover wrote. ” … I cannot, in good conscience, support treating our state employees in this manner.”

Hoover followed up on Friday with a second email with a link to an analysis criticizing the bill by a source seldom cited by Republicans — Jason Bailey, executive director of the progressive-minded Kentucky Center for Economic Policy.

“I am NOT advocating one way or the other, just think Mr. Bailey (with whom I seldom agree on policy) has done a very good job here of explaining the costs, short term and long term effects, etc. Read it, trash it, wipe your nose with it lol, I don't care, just wanted to share the information,” Hoover wrote.

By the way, this certainly didn’t help Bevin’s image:

Kentucky’s Republican governor, Matt Bevin, came under criticism from state Democrats on Friday for suggesting that teachers on strike were to blame for the shooting of a 7-year-old girl who had stayed home because of school closures. The remarks were the latest to ignite controversy for the governor, who faces low approval ratings ahead of an election in November.

“One thing you almost didn’t hear anything about while we had people pretending to be sick when they weren’t sick and leaving kids unattended to or in situations that they should not have been in — a little girl was shot, 7 years old, by another kid,” he said in a speech before the Rotary Club of Louisville on Thursday.

“Because they were somewhere that they weren’t intended to be, because the parent didn’t have any option,” he added.

Democrats hit back. The Kentucky Democratic Party posted video of Mr. Bevin’s remarks and said, “We need better leadership in the governor’s office, and Matt Bevin will never provide it.”

The party and others also pointed to previous remarks by Mr. Bevinconnecting teachers’ strikes with a rise in crimes committed against or by children.

In April 2018, when teachers were protesting at the State Capitol, Mr. Bevin said they were exposing children to danger. “Children were harmed — some physically, some sexually, some were introduced to drugs for the first time — because they were vulnerable and left alone,” he had said, according to The Courier-Journal.

The Kentucky Democrats said on Friday: “First it was sexual assault; now it’s an accidental shooting. This is disgusting and unforgivable.”

Also, Bevin appears to be a bit of “snowflake” looking for a “safe space”:

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An ongoing federal lawsuit over Gov. Matt Bevin's habit of blocking people on Twitter and Facebook shows the Republican leader has persisted in barring users from accessing his official accounts.

Newly released court records say the number of accounts prohibited from readily viewing Bevin's social media has ballooned from about 600 to nearly 3,000 different users since the Courier Journal reported on his penchant for blocking two years ago.

Bevin would also occasionally order his staff to block people, including one woman for posting unspecified comments on his Facebook pages in early 2018.

“There is a limit on idiocy and she has surpassed it,” he said in a message that was included among recently filed court documents.

On another occasion, Bevin instructed staffers to block someone he accused of “trolling every single post for the past week plus to post unrelated crap,” and in November 2017 he made a broader request for them to “sweep out the trash” on Facebook.

The records also give Kentuckians a window into how and why Bevin's team decides to block certain users.

Bevin, who often uses social media to speak directly to Kentuckians, has banned people from viewing his official social media pages for everything from off-topic comments to offensive emojis, according to the documents.

It remains to be seen if Trump will help bail out Bevin. Trump doesn’t exactly have the best record on helping his fellow Republicans in tight races. Just ask Rick Saccone, Luther Strange, and Roy Moore. But the three Kentucky Democrats are keeping the focus on Bevin, not Trump, in order to win this race:

The three leading Democrats running for Kentucky governor agree their state badly needs a new chief executive, and they’ve hit the Republican incumbent with a barrage of attacks. But they dial back the criticism when it comes to his most prominent backer, President Donald Trump.

Instead they turn to issues like gambling, solar energy and free community college to set themselves apart.

The top Democratic candidates on the May 21 primary ballot — Attorney General Andy Beshear, state House Minority Floor Leader Rocky Adkins and ex-state auditor Adam Edelen — are competing for the support of a Democratic base riled up by GOP Gov. Matt Bevin’s combative style. Also running is frequent Democratic candidate Geoff Young.

Overshadowing it all is Trump’s popularity in the bluegrass state, which could hamper the eventual Democratic nominee. Trump won Kentucky by a landslide in 2016. Bevin has tied his reelection hopes to Trump, claiming credit for Republicans for the state’s job growth and low unemployment.

Let’s get ready to give Bevin the boot. Click below to donate and get involved with the Democratic candidate you support:

Andy Beshear

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Rocky Adkins

Adam Edelen

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