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Republican Governors Association Stops Airing Bevin Ads

J. Tyler Frankin

The Republican Governors Association's decision to stop airing ads for Kentucky gubernatorial candidate Matt Bevin may fuel perceptions that his campaign is struggling about a month before Election Day, a political observer says.

The political action committee's move on Monday came two days before the release of a much-anticipated Bluegrass Poll. This summer, the Bluegrass Poll showed Democrat Jack Conway with a slight lead over Bevin.

RGA spokesman Jon Thompson would not comment on why the group stopped airing ads. But he said “we are constantly evaluating what role the RGA has in all of our governor’s races.”

Thompson said it was "very possible" the group could resume airing the ads before voters cast ballots in November.

The RGA produced several TV ads over the summer deriding Conway and supporting Bevin.

Kentucky Democratic Party spokesman David Bergstein was quick to respond to news that the RGA had pulled out of Kentucky, saying Republicans don’t trust Bevin.

“Throughout his campaign, Bevin has displayed a level of pathological dishonesty that borders on delusional,” Bergstein said.

Bevin’s campaign did not respond to a request for comment.

Throughout the campaign season, Democrats have highlighted several instances where Bevin has contradicted himself on a wide range of issues.

During a Republican primary debate on KET, Bevin said the federal early childhood education program Head Start "serves no purpose." Since then, he has said he supports early childhood education initiatives. Bevin also said he would "reverse" the state's Medicaid expansion "immediately" before saying he would scale it back; the program, which was expanded via the Affordable Care Act, now covers an additional hundreds of thousands of Kentuckians.

The RGA raised $24.4 million in the first six months of 2015 and had more than $20 million in cash on hand as of June 30.

Dewey Clayton, a political science professor at the University of Louisville, said the timing of the RGA’s actions did not bode well for Bevin.

“We’re getting to crunch time, and any news like this is clearly not good news,” Clayton said. "When outside groups start pulling funding from one source or another, it also gives the perception that they may feel those funds may be better used elsewhere.”

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