How are Kentuckians going to remember Gov. Matt Bevin?
The outgoing administration is painting a portrait of a New England peasant, who after serving in the U.S. Army and becoming a wealthy investment capitalist, swooped into Frankfort to clean up corruption.
Bevin shattered economic development records, removed red tape, protected the unborn and fully funded the state pension system, spokeswoman Elizabeth Kuhn told me.
Beyond creating “unprecedented opportunities for Kentucky families,” she said we should note how he invested in the state’s long-neglected state parks and drew attention to “our most vulnerable” by making changes to the state foster care and adoption system
“Over the coming years, the governor’s legacy will be self-evident as more Kentuckians take advantage of the opportunities created by his steadfast leadership,” Kuhn said.
Die-hard conservatives, such as retired Army Sgt. Dudley Walden, of Elizabethtown, agree. He told the governor via Twitter this week he was, “Gonna miss you leading our state!”
But now that he’s out of power, a lot of Republican legislators admit Bevin blew it, denying the GOP’s chance to have total control of state government.
“In the case of Gov. Bevin, he would not listen to those around him telling him he needed to be a little more humble and show some contrition over things he said,” said state Rep. Jerry Miller, R-Louisville.
“Politics — just like life — is a relationship’s business,” he added. “And he was not good at that. He was not good at building relationships and that ultimately cost him.”
Cue Lt. Gov. Jenean Hampton, a tea party favorite with whom Bevin never made amends after dumping her from the ticket and firing her staffers. She wouldn’t even say if she supported her former friend at the ballot box, when asked by the newspaper in Bardstown.
“I voted for the person I thought was best,” Hampton told the Kentucky Standard this week. “I’m not going to say right here. I did not vote Democrat. I can say that.”
Does that mean Libertarian candidate John Hicks? Probably.
GOP lawmakers are already writing off Bevin, saying they deserve more of the credit for conservative wins such as right-to-work legislation, charter schools and eliminating prevailing wage on construction projects.