Edelen fundraising boosted by running mate's loan

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Adam Edelen's running mate contributed another $1 million in loans to boost their campaign as they unleashed an attack ad against rival Andy Beshear in the race for Kentucky's Democratic gubernatorial nomination, according to their latest campaign-finance report.

Of the $3.4 million raised by Edelen's campaign, about $2.5 million came from loans from running mate Gill Holland, a developer and businessman, their report showed Tuesday.

Edelen also benefited from another big influx of money into a super PAC supporting his candidacy. The group, bankrolled mostly by Holland's mother-in-law, took in another $537,600 during the most recent 15-day reporting period and spent nearly $450,000 of it. Holland's wife is a member of the Brown family that built spirits industry giant Brown-Forman Corp.

"Adam Edelen's running mate and his family are trying to buy this election," Beshear's campaign manager, Eric Hyers, said in a statement Tuesday.

The PAC also launched a recent attack ad against Beshear, who is considered the front-runner in the hotly contested Democratic gubernatorial primary. The state's primary election is May 21.

The attack ads claimed in part that Beshear benefited in the past from a hefty campaign donation from Purdue Pharma, the manufacturer of the powerful painkiller OxyContin.

The Purdue Pharma donation didn't go directly to Beshear's campaign during his successful run for Kentucky attorney general in 2015. Instead, it went to the Democratic Attorneys General Association, and money was transferred to a PAC supporting Beshear.

Beshear's campaign responded with its own ads calling the attacks shameful and false, saying they resembled something out of the GOP playbook. Beshear's campaign has noted that as attorney general he has sued nine drug companies for their role in the opioid epidemic.

Meanwhile, Beshear's latest campaign-finance report showed he raised $300,399 during the 15-day reporting period. Another leading Democratic candidate, longtime state lawmaker Rocky Adkins, took in more than $132,000 during the period, his report showed.

It was the final round of finance reports before next week's primary. They are competing for a chance to challenge Republican Gov. Matt Bevin in the general election.

The reports showed Edelen's campaign has raised the most money and spent the most — thanks to the hefty lending from his running mate. Holland's most recent $1 million loan accounted for nearly all of Edelen's fundraising during the 15-day period, his report showed.

Edelen spent nearly $911,000 during the period — when the former state auditor ran a robust TV ad campaign with the attack against Beshear and another commercial with a softer approach featuring his father, Meade County farmer Larry Edelen.

Edelen has spent $2.7 million so far in his bid for a political comeback.

Meanwhile, Beshear has raised more than $2.1 million and spent nearly $1.9 million, his latest report showed. Beshear is the son of former Gov. Steve Beshear, who served two terms.

Adkins, the top-ranking Democrat in the Republican-led state House, has raised more than $1.6 million and spent more than $1.1 million.

Edelen had the biggest balance at $679,390 with about two weeks left before the primary. Adkins had $487,173 still in the bank and Beshear had $292,970.

The other Democrat running for governor is frequent candidate Geoff Young.

In the state's Republican primary, Bevin's campaign reported raising nearly $244,000 during the 15-day period, pushing his campaign's fundraising past $1 million.

While he trailed the three leading Democratic candidates, Bevin showed in 2015 that he can significantly self-finance his own campaign. Also, the Republican Governors Association is expected to advertise heavily in support of Bevin.

The report for Bevin's leading GOP rival, state Rep. Robert Goforth, showed the challenger raised just $520 in the 15-day period. An earlier report showed Goforth loaning about $750,000 to his campaign. Goforth had more than $477,000 in the bank, his latest report showed.

The other Republicans running for governor are William Woods and Ike Lawrence.