Are Republicans Pulling the Plug on the Kentucky Governor’s Race?

The RGA said Monday it is no longer running ads for Republican Matt Bevin until his campaign improves.

Matt Bevin, not winning many allies in Washington.
Win McNamee AFP/Getty
Karyn Bruggeman
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Karyn Bruggeman
Sept. 28, 2015, 8:24 p.m.

The Re­pub­lic­an Gov­ernors As­so­ci­ation is hold­ing off on run­ning ads on be­half of Ken­tucky Re­pub­lic­an gubernat­ori­al nom­in­ee Matt Bev­in, the As­so­ci­ated Press re­por­ted Monday. RGA spokes­man Jon Thompson told the AP the com­mit­tee is “ree­valu­at­ing what is best for us to do.”  

Ac­cord­ing to one D.C.-based Re­pub­lic­an op­er­at­ive with know­ledge of the com­mit­tee’s plans, the RGA wants to make sure Bev­in is “ser­i­ous about the race” be­fore go­ing back on the air, cit­ing what is said to be weak fun­drais­ing on Bev­in’s end, a lim­ited ef­fort at run­ning his own TV ads, and the con­tent of his first ad.   

As of last week, Bev­in had only put $140,000 be­hind a first TV buy, while the RGA has spent $3 mil­lion on his be­half in ads ty­ing Demo­crat Jack Con­way to Pres­id­ent Obama. Bev­in launched his first spot two weeks ago. The ad also tied Con­way to Obama, com­par­ing the two can­did­ates to foot­ball teams. Bev­in’s cam­paign said it was launch­ing “just in time for prime-time foot­ball games.” The ad raised eye­brows from Re­pub­lic­an ob­serv­ers be­cause of the re­dund­ant theme.  

“That’s not ne­ces­sar­ily maybe the smartest mes­sage. I think that’s something he might need to im­prove on a little bit, is what mes­sage he wants to send, what he’ll do as gov­ernor,” said the GOP op­er­at­ive.

The com­mit­tee isn’t throw­ing in the tow­el on the Ken­tucky race. They’re not rul­ing out go­ing back on the air at a later date. The Bev­in cam­paign said they plan on go­ing on the air again later this week.   

As for Bev­in’s fun­drais­ing, he could yet get a fin­an­cial boost from South Car­o­lina Gov. Nikki Haley, who is sched­uled to at­tend a fun­draiser for Bev­in Tues­day in Lex­ing­ton. Bev­in could also put more per­son­al money to­ward his bid. He spent more than $2.5 mil­lion of his own money ahead of the May GOP primary. Ken­tucky Demo­crats have cri­ti­cized Bev­in for de­cid­ing not to pub­licly re­lease his tax re­turns this sum­mer.

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