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Kentucky GOP Gubernatorial Candidates Have Trouble Leaving Controversy Behind

Republican candidates for governor say they want to stop talking about controversy, but during the final debate before Tuesday's primary, they couldn't resist trying to throw a final punch.

In a debate Monday on KET moderated by Bill Goodman, candidates talked about funding for Pre-K initiatives, their opposition to Common Core education standards and plans to fix the state’s pension systems.

And all of the candidates have expressed a desire to move on from discussion of allegations that candidate James Comer abused his college girlfriend, yet only former Kentucky Supreme Court Justice Will T. Scott has successfully refused to weigh in on the matter.

“I’ve made it plain that I don’t deal in yesterdays—I address tomorrows, Kentucky’s problems of tomorrow and solutions,” Scott said.

The race has been sidetracked by allegations that Comer physically and emotionally abused a woman he dated in college. During Monday evening's debate, Comer again denied that the allegations were true, and former Louisville Metro Councilman Heiner denied any involvement with the allegations coming to light.

Meanwhile, Louisville businessman Matt Bevin accused Heiner of coordinating with a super PAC that has funded attack ads against Bevin and Comer.

“And unfortunately this soiled bed that we have now been forced to live in. Somebody’s going to have to live in between May 20th and the general election and it’s unfortunate that somebody has made that decision," Bevin said.

Heiner, who denies coordinating with the super PAC accused Bevin of attacking other GOP candidates. Bevin’s campaign began airing a commercial last week that compared Comer and Heiner to children in a food fight.

Comer, in turn, took a jab at Heiner: “I don’t think Hal Heiner has the moral authority to even criticize anyone on attack ads right now with the millions of dollars that “dark money” PAC has spent attacking me and others in this race.”

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