Bevin May Face Opponent; Edelen In Democratic Race
By The Associated Press
LOUISVILLE - A Kentucky lawmaker who bucked his party's leadership on pension legislation might try to block Gov. Matt Bevin's clear path in the state's Republican primary, based on a premature website launch signaling he's preparing to challenge the incumbent governor.

And on the Democratic side of the governor's race, Adam Edelen made his campaign official Monday, declaring that "climate change is real" and promising that thousands of jobs would be created by investing in renewable resources in a state long dependent on coal.

Republican state Rep. Robert Goforth's unintentional declaration came on a website that prematurely signaled Monday he was on the verge of launching a challenge to Bevin. The website was later taken down. In a Facebook post Goforth said he'll announce his statewide political plans Tuesday in London, Kentucky.

If Goforth makes his candidacy official, the field for governor will include four Democrats and four Republicans — assuming Bevin follows through on public declarations that he intends to seek re-election.

Bevin has yet to file for the office or begin to raise money.

Goforth spokesman T.J. Litafik (LIT'-ah-fik) on Monday declined to detail Goforth's plans, but said the lawmaker from East Bernstadt will present a "different message and better ideas" for Kentucky.

"This is not something he jumped into spur of the moment," Litafik said. "He has had discussions and has traveled all over the state for months listening to people and getting their feedback. This is the culmination of those discussions and encouragement that he has received."

Edelen, meanwhile, formally launched his campaign before a crowd of supporters in Lexington.

"Let me say something that no candidate for Kentucky governor ever has, though every farmer and hunter knows it to be true: Climate change is real, and so are the thousands of jobs that can be created by fighting it," he said. "As governor, I will drive the creation of thousands of new energy jobs: solar installers, energy efficiency technicians, blue collar workers who are rewarded with jobs that cannot be exported to China or Mexico. ... Don't' tell me it can't be done, because I'm doing it."

Edelen has made that investment personally, partnering with an Appalachian coal company and a renewable energy business on a project to place hundreds of solar panels in eastern Kentucky. Edelen, who was Kentucky's state auditor from 2011 to 2015, hopes that issue could separate him from a crowded Democratic primary this spring.

Kentucky is one of three states electing governors in 2019, including Louisiana and Mississippi.

Bevin's approval ratings slumped after he criticized public workers who opposed his efforts to change the state's struggling public pension plans, but until now no Republican has mounted a campaign against him.

Goforth's short-lived website made reference to a Goforth-Hogan ticket.

Lawrence County Attorney Mike Hogan, who ran for attorney general in 2015, confirmed he would attend Goforth's event Tuesday but declined to say whether he would join Goforth on a ticket. Four years ago, Hogan lost the GOP primary for attorney general to state Sen. Whitney Westerfield, who lost to Democrat Andy Beshear in the general election.

Goforth, a pharmacist, represents a district covering Jackson and parts of Laurel and Madison counties.

He entered the legislature after winning a special election last February to replace former GOP Rep. Marie Rader, who resigned because of health reasons. Goforth won a full term last November.

Goforth was among several GOP lawmakers who bucked their party leadership to oppose last year's changes to the state's public pension systems. The measure stirred protests by teachers and later was struck down by the Kentucky Supreme Court.

Kentucky's pension systems are among the worst funded in the country.

Like Bevin, Goforth opposes abortion and supports gun rights. Goforth prefiled bills for the 2019 legislative session that would further restrict abortions and expand the state's concealed carry law for gun owners.

Other Democrats running for governor include Andy Beshear, state House Minority Floor Leader Rocky Adkins and Geoff Young, a former state employee who has run for office repeatedly.

Edelen told reporters Monday he supports legalizing casino-style gambling in Kentucky but noted, "We've had candidates running on expanded gaming in Kentucky for 20 years to no avail."

"I am not someone who is going to sit around and insist on drilling a dry hole," Edelen said.

That appeared to be a reference to former Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear, Edelen's former boss and Andy Beshear's father. Steve Beshear made a big push for expanded gambling that ultimately failed.

Edelen sprinkled his announcement with not-so-subtle jabs at Andy Beshear's campaign, saying things like "Nostalgia will not win the future."

"Our broken politics want to convince you that the only alternative to current dysfunction and division in Kentucky is dynasty. Folks, we are better than that," Edelen said.

Andy Beshear appeared to take Edelen's comments personally, issuing a statement saying: "After three years of Matt Bevin, Kentucky families are tired of personal attacks and name-calling."

Published 12:45 AM, Tuesday Jan. 08, 2019
Updated 09:02 PM, Monday Jan. 07, 2019

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