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Sparks Fly In Rapid Fire Gubernatorial Debate

Josh James
Democrat Andy Beshear and Republican Matt Bevin prepare for their fourth debate, aired on KET, on October 28, 2019.

Republican Governor Matt Bevin and Democratic Attorney General Andy Beshear sat down for a feisty hour-long appearance on KET Monday night. The often freewheeling debate saw both candidates sticking close to their respective playbooks – with Bevin adopting a no-holds-barred approach and Beshear highlighting the the governor's temperament – as each questioned the other’s facts and figures.

The political rivals bobbed and weaved through familiar topics, ranging from pensions to public education to the fate of expanded Medicaid. The incumbent governor frequently accused his opponent of misleading voters on the probability of passing expanded gaming and inflating the estimates for how many millions it could bring in.

WUKY's Alan Lytle conducts post-debate analysis with Kentucky Gazette editor and publisher Laura Cullen Glasscock

"It was $200, then $250, then it worked it's way up to $500. Now it's as much as $550," the Republican jabbed. "These are made-up numbers."

Defending his proposed expanded Medicaid changes, which include work, volunteering, or job training mandates for some recipients, Bevin said he’s the only candidate who knows what it’s like to go without health insurance. The governor said his family was denied coverage through COBRA under Beshear’s father because they were in the midst of adopting a child. That process, he added, was considered a "pre-existing condition." 

"For a year and a half, my wife and I and our five children had zero healthcare coverage because we weren't allowed to because of a pre-existing condition," Bevin told reporters following the debate. 

Asked to respond, Beshear said people with pre-existing conditions have coverage "because federal health reform mandates it. He wants to end that federal healthcare reform." 

Quizzed on whether he would release his tax returns if elected to a second term, the governor said he would not. 

"Everything that people want to know is known," Bevin explained. "It's not required by law for a reason."

Meanwhile, Beshear stuck close to arguments he’s made throughout the campaign. The Democrat claimed he can raise enough new revenue to fully fund education, healthcare is a basic human right, and Bevin lacks the temperament to lead. 

"You can't insult somebody and then ask them to sit down at the table and get something done," the attorney general said. 

Beshear went on to say another four years of Bevin's leadership would result in more policies that would funnell money to those at the top.

"Virtually every single thing he'll name applies solely to the wealthy," the Democrat charged. "He thinks that they are a different class than other Kentuckians." 

Bevin, who favors a shift toward consumption-based taxes, noted that the General Assembly passed cuts in individual and corporate income taxes under his watch. 

The fiery exchange was the next to last joint appearance scheduled before the November 5 election. The final televised debate is set for Tuesday on WLWT.

Josh James fell in love with college radio at Western Kentucky University's student station, New Rock 92 (now Revolution 91.7). After working as a DJ and program director, he knew he wanted to come home to Lexington and try his hand in public radio.
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