Bevin's loan boosts his reelection campaign effort

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin put $2 million of his own money into his reelection campaign last month in preparation for his November showdown with Democratic Attorney General Andy Beshear.

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Bevin made the hefty loan the day before Kentucky's May 21 primary election, according to his campaign-finance report sent to the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance on Thursday.

The loan easily surpassed the amount the wealthy businessman-turned-governor has raised from supporters in his quest for a second term. Bevin has raised more than $1.4 million in contributions from supporters since launching his reelection campaign in January.

Bevin's campaign had more than $2.5 million in the bank, his report showed.

The governor ran a mostly low-profile campaign in the spring and waited until early May to start promoting himself with TV ads. He spent less than $1 million on his campaign through June 20 as he hoarded cash for what will be a tough fall race against Beshear.

Bevin received just 52% of the GOP primary vote in winning the nomination last month, while state Rep. Robert Goforth got 39%. The rest went to two other candidates.

Beshear's campaign pounced on Bevin's decision to tap into his own wealth, saying it shows that Bevin is trying to "self-fund his way out of the mess he has created."

"As the most unpopular governor in the country, Matt Bevin is going to spend millions of dollars of his own money to desperately try to distract from his failed record in office," Beshear campaign manager Eric Hyers said in a statement Friday.

Bevin's campaign manager, Davis Paine, touted the state's job growth and low unemployment as reasons Kentuckians are "rallying behind" the Republican's campaign.

"Kentuckians know that Governor Bevin is just getting started and that Andy Beshear will take us back to the same old failed liberal policies of the past," Paine said in a statement.

Meanwhile, Beshear's report showed he had $63,360 left in his primary election account, but his campaign noted that the Democrat opened a separate general election account immediately after winning the nomination in late May.

Hyers said Friday that fundraising for the general election has "gone really well" and the campaign is "hitting all its financial benchmarks." The campaign won't have to report its fundraising for the new general election account until later in the year.

Beshear was forced into a high-spending primary in defeating two tough Democratic rivals — longtime state Rep. Rocky Adkins and former state auditor Adam Edelen.

Bevin and Beshear have been bitter adversaries since both took office. They have squared off in a series of courtroom battles in which Beshear, as attorney general, has challenged some of the governor's executive actions on education and pensions.

Both candidates are expected to benefit from support from deep-pocketed outside groups in the coming months.

Bevin also is banking on multiple visits by President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence. A Bevin defeat would send shock waves through Republican circles nationally heading into the 2020 election. Kentucky is one of three states that will elect governors in 2019, along with Louisiana and Mississippi.

Trump carried Kentucky by a landslide in 2016 and remains popular in the bluegrass state. Bevin and Pence both promote socially conservative beliefs. Their friendship stretches back to Pence's time as governor in neighboring Indiana.