Goforth unveils first TV ad in challenging Kentucky governor

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Republican lawmaker Robert Goforth plays up his Kentucky roots in the first TV ad of his campaign challenge against Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin in the spring GOP primary.

The 30-second ad that began airing Wednesday mentions Goforth's ties to southeastern Kentucky. Goforth is a state representative from East Bernstadt in Laurel County, and his family's roots in the region go back several generations.

The commercial shows Goforth and his family on their farm. Goforth started a small chain of pharmacies that he eventually sold. He raises cattle on the farm.

Without mentioning the governor by name, the ad also takes a dig at Bevin's New England roots.

The governor grew up in New Hampshire but has lived in Kentucky for about two decades.

Both Bevin and Goforth have talked about their families' financial hardships while growing up.

A Bevin spokesman declined comment Wednesday on Goforth's ad.

Goforth's campaign said the commercial is running on statewide cable markets and in the Hazard and Bowling Green regional markets.

Goforth is widely seen as a decided underdog in the May 21 primary, but his candidacy could provide a measure of Bevin's popularity among Republicans after a tumultuous time as governor.

Bevin's approval ratings dropped last year after he criticized teachers and others who opposed his efforts to overhaul the state's struggling public pension plans.

The GOP-led legislature pushed through a pension bill last year that prompted protests from thousands of teachers who closed schools in more than 30 districts statewide. The state Supreme Court struck down the law on procedural grounds. The year ended when Bevin called the legislature back in session to pass a version of the bill again, but lawmakers could not reach an agreement and adjourned.

In an interview Tuesday on WKCT radio, Bevin chastised lawmakers for not passing pension legislation in this year's session. Lawmakers will return to the state Capitol on March 28 for the final day of the session.

Other GOP candidates for governor in the May 21 primary are William Woods and Ike Lawrence.

On the Democratic side, the candidates for governor are state Attorney General Andy Beshear, House Minority Floor Leader Rocky Adkins, former state auditor Adam Edelen and frequent candidate Geoff Young.

Kentucky is one of three states that will elect governors in 2019, along with Louisiana and Mississippi.