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Bevin delivers litany of critiques, campaign advice in unusual Capitol appearance

Kentucky Politics
Timothy D. Easley/AP
FR43398 AP
Former Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin, right, speaks with an attendee of the Kentucky Farm Bureau Ham Breakfast at the Kentucky State Fair in Louisville, Ky., Thursday, Aug. 25, 2022. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)

In what appeared to be a possible run-up to a last-minute gubernatorial campaign announcement, former Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin instead offered members of the media and political observers his own 20 minute state of the commonwealth speech before exiting the building.

It was an unorthodox turn of events in Frankfort Friday as the former governor led the Capitol press corps to assemble in the rotunda, with speculation centering around his potential entry in the 2023 Kentucky Governor’s race.

Instead, reporters were treated to off-the-cuff but on-brand remarks in which Bevin stressed what he sees as glaring failures on a host of topics from the Jefferson County Public School system to pensions, along with media coverage of all of the above. The comments were couched in what Bevin described as a deep love of Kentucky and its untapped potential.

One example highlighted by the former governor was the troubled juvenile justice system. On the subject, Bevin said, "We are failing our society, our Kentucky."

His final word to the other candidates in the race took a more amicable turn.

"My call to each of them: Let's not eat each other other up. Let's not tear each other up and bring each other down," Bevin advised his fellow Republicans. "Yeah, everybody wants to be, but at what cost? And I say this, even as it relates to our current governor. He's not the enemy. He's not the bogeyman. His party isn't the bogeyman. For Republicans that are listening to this and will read and watch what you guys put out there, we're all Kentuckians. Let's celebrate that fact."

Yet when it came time to walk to the Secretary of State’s office to presumably file his paperwork, the former governor instead walked out of the building, leaving many long-time political observers scratching their heads.

With less than an hour left before the filing deadline, Bevin did not return to the Capitol.

One early response on Twitter from Republican Senator Whitney Westerfield expressed disappointment in the tactic, saying, "Whatever value there may have been in his remarks and the substance of any issues he highlighted is lost in the stunt. What a waste."

Others took to social media to express amusement, dubbing it a "prank" and "epic troll."

The GOP ballot already includes former UN Ambassador Kelly Craft, Attorney General Daniel Cameron, Agriculture Secretary Ryan Quarles, Auditor Mike Harmon, Jacob Clark, David O. Cooper, Eric Deters, Bob DeVore, Alan Keck, Dennis Ray Ormerod, Johnny Ray Rice, and Robbie C. Smith.

Alan Lytle has more than 25 years of experience as a Kentucky broadcaster. Over that span he has earned multiple awards for anchoring, writing and producing news & features for WUKY. He took home the Kentucky Broadcasters Association's Best Radio Anchor award in 2021.
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.