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Republican Gubernatorial Candidate Comer Flies Across Kentucky To Unveil Platform, Fight Attack Ads

comer
Agriculture Commissioner James Comer, right, and his wife, T.J.

Agriculture Commissioner James Comer and his running mate, state Sen. Chris McDaniel, went on a flying tour across the state Monday to meet with supporters of their bid for office.

In the campaign stops in Paducah, London, Louisville and Bowling Green, Comer unveiled the remaining three planks of his five-point platform, focusing on reducing the size of government, growing the middle class and investing in the state’s future.

He said he’ll achieve those goals by reducing government spending by 10 percent, providing an earned 10 percent income tax credit for families that make $100,000 or less and decreasing Kentucky’s debt ratio to less than 6 percent in four years.

In order to pay for the income tax credit, Comer said, he’ll scrape together $86 million by eliminating other tax breaks like one for the film industry, which passed in this year’s legislative session.

“That’s a waste to the taxpayers, I think that money would be better invested in the middle class than in some Hollywood film companies,” Comer said.

In his previously announced planks, Comer announced his intention to reduce the number of Kentuckians on Medicaid and provide in-state tuition tax credits for college graduates.

Comer is fighting attack ads that accuse him of voting to increase legislator pensions and advocating against government-funded farm subsidies, but receiving $87,000 in subsidies for his own farms.

Comer said he suspects that one of his opponent in the Republican primary, former Louisville Metro Councilman Hal Heiner has been colluding with the super PAC that sponsors the ads, Citizens For a Sound Government.

“I have a theory that the money is coming from Hal Heiner but I’ll never be able to prove that,” Comer said after an event in Paducah.

Super PACs aren’t required to disclose their donors.

The voter turnout for the primary election on May 19 is expected to be low; Comer said that will work in his favor, though he trailed Heiner in a poll of likely voters in March.

“The turnout’s going to be to the point where only the most educated voters are going to vote, and I think they’re turned off by Hal Heiner,” Comer said.

Heiner has repeatedly denied coordinating or having any connection with the PAC, but his campaign accuses Comer of running away from his vote to increase legislator pensions when he was a state representative.

“His continued accusations about Mr. Heiner are a desperate attempt to draw attention away from that vote,” Heiner communications director Doug Alexander said in a phone interview.

With three weeks left in the run-up to the gubernatorial primary election, Comer is riding last week’s news that he out-fundraised his fellow Republican primary candidates.

Comer pointed out that his opponents have campaigns that are largely self-funded, and he relied on donor contributions of $1,000 or less.

“And we did it because we have real support across the state,” Comer said

Ryland Barton is the Managing Editor for Collaboratives. Email Ryland at rbarton@lpm.org.