Louisville businessman Matt Bevin is trying to capitalize on the unsavory battle between Republican rivals James Comer and Hal Heiner, running a new television ad that accuses the two gubernatorial candidates of "acting like children."
Bevin's latest ad comes as Comer, the commissioner of agriculture, and Heiner, a former Louisville councilman, find themselves embroiled in controversy over whether Comer assaulted his girlfriend when they were in college.
Bevin's ad features two actors playing Heiner and Comer sitting at a children's table and throwing food at each other.
"Running for governor is supposed to be about leadership," the narrator says. "But Hal Heiner and James Comer are acting like children, throwing insults and attacking each other. Kentucky can do much better."
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The ad then shifts to footage of Bevin, who the narrator says is "running a positive campaign to cut taxes and shrink state government."
Heiner campaign spokesman Doug Alexander took issue with Bevin's assertion that he is running a positive campaign.
"No one has thrown more meatballs in this campaign than Matt Bevin," Alexander said in a statement. "He will say and do anything to distract voters from his record of attacking Republicans. ... He's slung mud at Republicans for the last two years and is now willing to say anything to get elected."
With the primary election just more than a week away, the race for the Republican nomination has grown increasingly nasty since the Herald-Leader revealed last week that Heiner's running mate, KC Crosbie, and her husband, Scott Crosbie, had communicated with Lexington blogger Michael Adams.
Adams had been posting about the abuse allegations on his blog for months.
After that revelation, Marilyn Thomas, whom Comer dated while a student at Western Kentucky University, told The Courier-Journal in a letter that Comer was physically and mentally abusive to her when they dated in the early1990s.
Thomas has not responded to the Herald-Leader's requests for an interview.
Comer denied the allegations and accused Heiner's campaign of being behind the story and of offering money to those who would make accusations against Comer.
Comer has not produced proof of either charge, and Heiner has denied that his campaign had anything to do with it.
During a debate on Kentucky Sports Radio earlier this week, Bevin accused Heiner of telling him about the allegations "months and months ago."
With the race growing more tense by the day, Bevin's latest ad closes by saying that he would provide "grown-up leadership for Kentucky."
Ben Hartman, Bevin's campaign manager, said that the ad is running statewide on broadcast television, including in Evansville, Ind., and Charleston, W.Va.
An accompanying 60-second radio ad also is running statewide.
The ad was produced by Jamestown Associates.