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Matt Bevin Was the Only Republican Candidate For Governor at the 'Unity Rally'

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Bevin supporters gathered in Louisville.

LEXINGTON -- Kentucky Republican Party leaders held a “unity rally” on Saturday to show support for their newly minted slate of candidates for statewide public office.

But not every leader showed up.

The rally was requested in April by U.S. Sens. Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul and most of Kentucky’s Republican congressional delegation. They'd asked Republican candidates for governor to unite around the nominee chosen in the party's close and contentious primary.

The winner turned out to be Louisville businessman Matt Bevin, whose 83-vote victory over his nearest challenger, Agriculture Commissioner James Comer, was solidified on Friday with Comer's concession.

Despite calls for the candidates to attend Saturday's rally, Bevin was the only one to show up.

“I want to thank the other candidates Will T. Scott, Hal Heiner and Jamie Comer, who ran races of great integrity in large measure, really and truly," Bevin said.

Several Republican General Assembly leaders and Paul attended. Paul said he would "do everything humanly possible" to help Bevin win, though most of his speech focused on the federal government’s bulk collection of surveillance data.

McConnell did not attend the event. He was instead preparing for Sunday’s debate of the expiration of the Patriot Act.

Bevin and McConnell have their own contentious history stemming from last year's Senate primary, which the senator easily won. On Friday, McConnell issued a one-line statement congratulating and endorsing Bevin.

Using humor to try and tamp down rumors of bad blood with McConnell, Bevin on Saturday presented a tongue-in-cheek video in which he got a “Team Mitch” tattoo.

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