Mother Jones has a pretty brutal piece about Governor Matt Bevin (R. KY) why being a complete asshole might cost him re-election despite being the Governor of a deep red state:

For Bevin, winning a second term should be a breeze. He’s running in a state Trump won by 30 percent. Trump still gets high marks in polls there, and Republicans fully control the state government. But as Election Day nears, Bevin is flailing. In May’s Republican primary, he won just 52 percent of the vote in a race against three nominal challengers, a paltry showing for a sitting governor.

Bevin’s unpopularity appears to be less about Kentuckians rejecting his conservative agenda than voters growing tired of their governor’s unfiltered, Trumpian persona and penchant for generating headlines with ill-advised remarks. “Many Kentuckians see their governor as the personification of the state,” says Al Cross, the longtime dean of the state’s political press at the Louisville Courier-Journal and now a journalism professor at the University of Kentucky. “And this is a state that often comes in for ridicule. Socioeconomically and demographically, culturally, we get looked down on by people on the coasts. And often get made fun of. And Kentuckians are sensitive to that. They don’t want their governor to be a jerk.”

Bevin often takes to social media to spout off and pick fights with his many critics. “Boy, it takes so little to trigger a whiny liberal,” he stated in a video posted to Facebook last October. “Let the whiners whine. I love the fact that you’re this easily upset.”

There has been plenty to whine about—and it’s not just liberals who have been up in arms. When Bevin visited a chess club at a majority-black and -Latino school in West Louisville, he said this activity was “not something you necessarily would have thought of when you think of this section of town.” After the Parkland mass shooting in Florida, Bevin posted a video calling for an “honest conversation”—about violent video games, films, and music. Bevin angered public health officials when, in the course of decrying government-mandated vaccines—“this is America, and the federal government should not be forcing this upon people”—he described exposing his children at a chickenpox party. Last winter, Bevin even managed to piss off Today show co-anchor Al Roker by complaining that “we’re getting soft” when a record cold snap forced school closures in Kentucky. “This nitwit governor in Kentucky, saying, ‘Oh, we’re weak,’” Roker said. “These are kids, who are going to be in subzero windchill. No, cancel school. Stop it!”

No one really foresaw Bevin’s rise. He grew up in rural New Hampshire and joined the Army before moving to Louisville in 1999 and founding an investment firm that notched him a net worth of at least $15 million, according to a disclosure he filed in 2014, when he first ran for political office. That first campaign ended in stinging defeat, as Bevin tried to ride the tea party wave and unseat then–Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. McConnell ran ads dubbing Bevin an “East Coast con man.” Bevin’s challenge died after he was caught on video at a pro-cockfighting rally.

The primary ended with hard feelings all around between Bevin and the state Republican Party. “You can’t punch people in the face, punch people in the face, punch people in the face, and ask them to have tea and crumpets with you and think it’s all good,” Bevin told Politico after he lost, explaining why he wasn’t endorsing McConnell. “Life doesn’t work that way.”

A year later he ran for governor, positioning himself as a no-nonsense businessman running against the establishment. This time, Bevin won a four-way primary by 83 votes and later cruised to a nine-point victory over his Democratic opponent. “Kentucky’s gubernatorial races so often become a predictor of the presidential election the next year,” says Jonathan Miller, a former Democratic state treasurer. Kentucky has trended Republican at the national level for decades, even as Democrats dominated state politics. (They still boast a voter registration advantage.) Bevin became the state’s second Republican governor since 1971, and with Trump atop the 2016 ticket, Republicans took control of the state House for the first time since 1921.

In January 2017, Bevin and the new Republican majority quickly set to work passing a conservative wish list: tort reform, a host of abortion restrictions, and a so-called right-to-work law that brought Kentucky into line with every other Southern state. Kentucky had seen its uninsured rate drop from 20 percent to 8 percent thanks to Obamacare, but Bevin shuttered the state health insurance exchange and now wants to add work requirements to the state Medicaid program that could result in tens of thousands of Kentuckians losing their health coverage. (Those requirements are on hold while they’re being disputed in the courts.) He’s “Scott Walker’s politics with Paul LePage’s mouth,” says Jason Bailey, executive director of the left-leaning Kentucky Center for Economic Policy.

But the Trump name may not be enough to help Bevin:

Donald Trump Jr. headlined a rally on Thursday afternoon for Kentucky’s Gov. Matt Bevin, but attendance at the event was reportedly so poor that organizers encouraged people to leave their seats and huddle closer to the stage.

The president’s eldest son and his partner Kimberley Guilfoyle were rallying at Pikeville’s Appalachian Wireless Arena in support of Bevin’s re-election bid. Pike County is historically Democratic in its local politics, though tended recently to back Republicans as president.

According to WFPL reporter Ryland Barton, the event was “sparsely-attended” and “organizers have asked the audience to move out of the seats and closer to the stage.” WFPL reported that around 200 people attended. The U.S. Census Bureau says Pike County’s population is 58,402

The Lexington Herald-Leader described the Appalachian Wireless Arena, which has a maximum capacity of 7,000, as “mostly empty” for the Bevin rally.

Bevin’s campaign and Trump Jr. did not respond immediately to Newsweek‘s requests for comment.

And Democrats are eager to take out Bevin because it could mean trouble for Moscow Mitch next year:

An internal Democratic poll released on Friday found that the party is on track to sweep the top three statewide elections in Kentucky this November.

Incumbent Republican Gov. Matt Bevin trails former Democratic state Attorney General Andy Beshear 48 to 39 percent, according to a poll conducted by Clarity Campaign Labs on behalf of the Democratic Attorneys General Association.

The poll also found that former Democratic state House Speaker Greg Stumbo leads Republican Daniel Cameron by 46 to 39 percent in the attorney general race and former Miss America Heather French Henry, a Democrat, leads Republican Michael Adams 52-37 in the secretary of state race.

Though internal polling tends to be more favorable to the party paying for it, these numbers appear in line with other data. According to a Morning Consult poll conducted in July, Bevin is the most unpopular governor in the entire country, holding just a 32 percent approval rating.

Cameron is a former general counsel to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Adams is a former aide to the Republican leader. If the statewide races go the way the polls suggest in November, it could spell trouble for McConnell, who is on the ballot next year.

By the way, kudos to this Republican State Senator for bucking Bevin:

A Republican state senator who endorsed Democrat Andy Beshear for governor is now holding a “Bullied by Bevin” picnic.

Sen. Dan Seum, R-Fairdale, said he is inviting teachers, cannabis supporters and other people he believes Gov. Matt Bevin has alienated.

“He (Bevin) failed the pension issue miserably,” Seum said. “And he failed because he insulted everybody. You know, you can’t insult everybody and expect them to come to the table. It doesn’t work that way.”

Seum said teachers in his family were offended by Bevin’s comments about them. During massive pension reform protests, for example, Bevin suggested children were being sexually assaulted or trying drugs because some school districts were closed due to a large number of teacher absences.

But Seum said the feud became even more personal when Bevin criticized Seum’s sponsorship of a bill to legalize recreational marijuana.

“Now, if the governor disagree with me, that’s fine, let’s debate the issue, but he goes on television, says I’m delusional,” Seum said.

Let’s stick it to Bevin and Moscow Mitch. Click below to donate and get involved with Andy Beshear (D. KY) and his fellow Kentucky Democrats campaigns:

Andy Beshear

Greg Stumbo

Heather French Henry

  • September 4, 2019