In first ad of fall campaign Beshear touts his faith

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Democrat Andy Beshear plays up the pastors in his family tree, stresses his faith and vows to treat people with "dignity and respect" in his first ad of Kentucky's general-election campaign for governor.

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The TV ad will start airing Tuesday across much of Kentucky in the Lexington, Paducah, Cincinnati and Evansville, Indiana, markets, his campaign said Monday. It also will run digitally.

The ad shows Beshear's family volunteering at a food pantry and praying at their dinner table. Beshear, who narrates the ad, notes that his grandfather and great-grandfather were Baptist preachers in western Kentucky. His father, Steve Beshear, often referred to the family's lineage in the pulpit during his successful run for governor in 2007, when he unseated GOP governor Ernie Fletcher. Steve Beshear served two terms as governor, preceding Republican Gov. Matt Bevin in office.

Bevin last week mentioned the Beshear family's ministerial roots while slamming Andy Beshear on the abortion issue. Bevin ridiculed Beshear for the "sanctimonious way in which he struts around" talking about being the grandson of a Baptist preacher.

Bevin made that remark while lambasting Beshear for taking campaign donations from the owner of Kentucky's only abortion clinic.

The socially conservative governor called it "blood money" from someone who is "killing Kentuckians." Beshear responded that the remarks are proof that Bevin is "erratic" and "unhinged," warning it's "the type of rhetoric that can get people hurt."

Bevin's campaign manager, Davis Paine, said Monday that "all the ads in the world won't change the fact" that Beshear accepted campaign donations from an abortion clinic owner.

National governors' organizations from both parties already have inserted themselves in Kentucky's campaign by running ads. Kentucky is one of three states electing governors this year, along with Louisiana and Mississippi.

In his new ad, Beshear says his faith guides his work for "the lost, the lonely and the left behind" — a line he uses in campaign speeches. That faith also influences his work on health care, he said.

Beshear, Kentucky's attorney general, is making health care a big issue in the governor's race. Beshear supports the Affordable Care Act and its health coverage protections for pre-existing conditions.

He opposes Bevin's efforts to revamp Kentucky's Medicaid program to require some recipients to have a job, go to school or do volunteer work to keep their benefits.

The proposed change, bottled up in the courts, is expected to cut tens of thousands of people off Medicaid rolls if it takes effect. In defending the proposal, Bevin recently said he couldn't believe that Beshear sees it as inappropriate to ask able-bodied recipients with no children to "do something" in exchange for their health care.

Former President Barack Obama's signature health care law gave states the option of expanding Medicaid coverage to able-bodied adults. Kentucky was among states that did so when Steve Beshear was governor. It allowed more than 400,000 people to get health benefits, many for the first time. But that was many more people than state officials had expected, increasing the state's costs.

Beshear also promises in his ad to treat everyone with "dignity and respect," which he said he and his wife teach their children and "are the values I'll bring back to Frankfort."

It's another jab at Bevin, who has feuded with public education groups that have railed against the governor's efforts to revamp public pension systems and his support for charter schools.

The ad will start running three days after Bevin and Beshear squared off at the annual Fancy Farm picnic in western Kentucky — the traditional launching pad for the state's fall campaign.

Meanwhile, Bevin showed the advantages of incumbency Monday, announcing that more than $15 million in excess coal severance tax revenue will be allocated to cities and counties that qualify through a revenue-sharing program. Bevin said 49 counties and 122 municipalities will share the money. A release from the governor's office included comments from several county judge-executives praising the allocations.