LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Republican Gov. Matt Bevin and Democratic challenger Andy Beshear clashed on education and health care policies while sharing the stage for a forum before Kentucky’s most influential agricultural group that turned feisty Wednesday.
Kentucky Attorney General and democratic candidate for governor Andy Beshear speak to the media following the Kentucky Farm Bureau candidates forum at the Kentucky Farm Bureau headquarters in Louisville, Ky., Wednesday, July 17, 2019. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley) Kentucky Governor and Republican candidate for governor Matt Bevin addresses the audience the Kentucky Farm Bureau candidates forum in Louisville, Ky., Wednesday, July 17, 2019. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley) Kentucky Democratic candidate for governor, Attorney General Andy Beshear addresses the audience at the Kentucky Farm Bureau candidates forum in Louisville, Ky., Wednesday, July 17, 2019. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley) View all (4)
Speaking at Kentucky Farm Bureau headquarters, Beshear challenged Bevin’s support for school-choice initiatives and the governor’s efforts to impose work requirements for some low-income people on Medicaid. The Democratic challenger said those policies would hurt public schools and hospitals in rural Kentucky, which drew an aggressive response from the Republican incumbent in defending the initiatives.
Bevin kept up a theme of his campaign — pointing to his experience as a business executive as an advantage for the state that differentiates him from Beshear. In pushing back, Beshear said the person representing the state shouldn’t be someone who has feuded with public education groups, as Bevin has done, or whose administration has been mired in a spat with his lieutenant governor.
The bitter rivals played up their rural roots while answering questions about budget, tax and rural development issues during the hourlong forum. Some of their sharpest disagreements came on charter schools and proposed changes to the state’s Medicaid program.
Beshear, the state’s attorney general, said both policies would hurt two pillars of rural Kentucky — public schools and hospitals. Beshear says charter schools would divert money away from public schools.
“We’ve got to make sure that we have a governor that’s not supporting for-profit, charter schools that will run your systems of education out of town,” he said.
Bevin countered that “this idea that somehow competition in education is bad for your communities — nonsense.” The governor noted that a large percentage of black children in Louisville cannot read at grade level — an argument he’s made repeatedly in advocating school choice.
“Don’t tell me we’re serving these kids well,” he told reporters after Monday’s forum. “We’re failing them.”