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Kentucky GOP Gubernatorial Candidates Lob Attacks In Final Days Before Primary

Earlier this week, the four Republican candidates for governor said they wanted to move on from rehashing controversies and return to talking about the issues.

The ceasefire was short-lived.

After saying he wouldn't weigh in on dating violence accusations that have been leveled against Agriculture Commissioner James Comer, former Metro Councilman Heiner released a commercial accusing Comer of spinning the controversy in his favor.

“It’s the kind of politics people hate: you've heard the abuse charges against Jamie Comer, now Matt Bevin and Jamie are using these charges to score political points,” Heiner says in the commercial released Friday morning.

And Comer has accused Heiner’s campaign of promoting the abuse allegations. Comer denies the accusations and claims.

(You can find profiles of the four Republican gubernatorial candidates here.)

Comer and Bevin, a Louisville businessman, have also accused Heiner of coordinating with a super PAC that has produced attack ads against them.

Heiner said his two main opponents dragged him into the controversy.

“Both Jamie Comer and Matt Bevin have done nothing but attack and attack and attack and use these abuse allegations to attack me. It was quite frankly simply time to respond,” Heiner said in an interview with Kentucky Public Radio on Friday.

Heiner says he hasn’t coordinated with the super PAC, Citizens for a Sound Government, which is headed up by his former campaign manager.

Another super PAC released a commercialattacking Heiner on Friday—it accuses him of engaging in “Chicago-style politics” and features a shadowy figure manipulating newspaper headlines.

“There’s a shadow over the race for governor, taking Kentucky politics to a new low. Hal Heiner’s campaign allowed it. Bringing gutter politics into the Republican primary,” says the voice over in the commercial produced by Kentuckians for Growth Opportunity & Prosperity.

The commercial goes on to say that Bevin “exposed” Heiner during a debate last week. In a debate on Kentucky Sports Radio, Bevin claimed that last fall Heiner told him he “knew things about Jamie Comer” and that "Heiner is not who he pretends to be."

With just days before Tuesday's primary, Bevin, Comer and Heiner are in a statistical three-way tie according to the Bluegrass Poll released earlier this week.

The fourth candidate, former Kentucky Supreme Court Justice Will T. Scott, has stayed out of the fight. Scott trails in the polls.

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