Democratic candidates make pitches to party leaders

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Three prominent Democrats took turns Saturday pitching their credentials as the strongest challenger to Republican Gov. Matt Bevin as they appeared before party leaders hungry to win back the governor’s mansion.

Attorney General Andy Beshear recounted his record of beating Bevin in the courtroom. House Minority Floor Leader Rocky Adkins cast himself as the one able to win back Democrats who strayed to support Republicans. And ex-state Auditor Adam Edelen touted his ability to promote a winning political message as Democrats seek to stop the party’s losing streak.

The three gubernatorial hopefuls are trying to cast themselves as the one capable of winning in a state seen as a stronghold for Republican President Donald Trump.

Beshear, meanwhile, offered a new twist to the campaign on Saturday, calling on his rivals to take a pledge against running attack ads against each other ahead of the May 21 primary. A bitter primary would play to Bevin’s benefit, Beshear told the party leaders.

“What he is counting on is a bloody, negative, divisive Democratic primary where the nominee limps out of it instead of surges into the general (election) to beat him,” Beshear said. “So I say, let’s not give him what he wants and needs.”

Adkins told reporters afterward that he plans to run a positive, issues-oriented campaign. Edelen was more blunt in responding to Beshear’s overture.

“I’m not going to sign anything put forward by an opposing campaign,” he told reporters. “This needs to be a marketplace of ideas and it needs to be a race in which iron sharpens iron. And what we know in the past is that when we haven’t had competitive Democratic primaries, it’s been to disastrous consequence in the fall.”

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