Politics & Government

Here’s what you need to know about the Democrats running for Kentucky governor

Listen to the Kentucky Democratic governor candidates on health care

Hear from =2019 Kentucky Democratic candidates Adam Edelen, Rocky Adkins, and Andy Beshear on how they plan to address health care access in Kentucky.
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Hear from =2019 Kentucky Democratic candidates Adam Edelen, Rocky Adkins, and Andy Beshear on how they plan to address health care access in Kentucky.

Democrats see the 2019 race for Kentucky governor as a prime opportunity to retake the state’s highest office by ousting the unpopular Gov. Matt Bevin, who faces a primary challenge of his own.

Kentucky Democrats will choose from four candidates Tuesday who want the opportunity to challenge Bevin. One of them — Geoff Young — has run a limited campaign.

Here’s what you need to know about the top three candidates.

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Democratic gubernatorial candidate Rocky Adkins waited on stage before speaking to supporters in front of the Pike County Courthouse during Hillbilly Days Saturday in downtown Pikeville. Alex Slitz aslitz@herald-leader.com

Rocky Adkins

What’s his birthday? November 4, 1959

Where’s he from? He says he’s from “the left hand fork of Middle Fork in Elliott County” and he currently owns property in Sandy Hook and Cattletsburg.

Where did he go to school? Adkins went to Elliott County High School and Morehead State University, where he got a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in secondary education. He played basketball there, if you haven’t heard.

What does he do? Adkins is the House Minority Leader in the House of Representatives, where he has served since 1986. When he’s not legislating, he owns a business consulting firm called RJA Enterprises where he “puts projects together for different companies and individuals.”

All right, but what would he do about pensions? He supports reforms made in 2013 and thinks the system needs to be fully funded as it is.

Okay, how would he get the money? Adkins says he supports the most “realistic approach” to raising revenue, which he says is cutting tax loopholes.

What would he do for higher education? Adkins says he wants to make tuition free at two-year technical and community colleges, similar to a proposal that was vetoed by Bevin in 2016. He also opposes performance-based funding for universities, saying it pits colleges against each other.

How about abortion? Adkins is the only pro-life candidate in the Democratic primary. Of the four anti-abortion bills passed this legislative session, he only voted against one: a bill that would ban abortions based on the sex, race, ethnicity or disability of an unborn child.

Where does he stand on cannabis? Adkins supports the legalization of medicinal marijuana.

Why is he the best candidate to defeat Bevin? Adkins is a moderate Democrat and says he’s best positioned to beat Bevin in November because he can appeal to rural Democrats and Republicans who don’t like Bevin.

Is there a profile story where I can learn more about him? Yes! Click here.

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Kentucky Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andy Beshear responds to a question during a debate at Transylvania University in Lexington, Ky., Wednesday, April 24, 2019. Alex Slitz aslitz@herald-leader.com

Andy Beshear

What’s his birthday? November 29, 1977

Where’s he from? He grew up in Lexington and now lives in Louisville.

Where did he go to school? Beshear went to Henry Clay High School and earned a bachelor’s degree in anthropology and political science from Vanderbilt University and a law degree from the University of Virginia.

What does he do? He was an attorney at Stites & Harbison and is now the Kentucky attorney general, elected in 2015. Since he took office, he’s filed suit against Gov. Matt Bevin’s administration at least six times.

All right, but what would he do about pensions? Beshear thinks the existing system needs more money.

Okay, how would he get the money? He backs expanded gambling, including allowing casino gambling and sports betting. He also has said he thinks the state would raise $50 million by taxing medicinal marijuana.

What would he do for higher education? Beshear supports providing more funding for higher education but wants it to come with restrictions that cap rising tuition costs.

How about abortion? He describes himself as “pro-choice” and has refused to defend some of the more controversial anti-abortion bills passed by the state legislature. He told lawmakers earlier this year that he believed a bill that would ban abortions if a fetal heartbeat is detected would violate the U.S. Constitution.

Where does he stand on cannabis? Beshear said he supports a ballot measure for the legalization of medicinal marijuana.

Why is he the best candidate to beat Bevin? Beshear says he’s a “fighter who gets results.” Beshear says his record of standing up to Bevin in the courtroom makes him the best candidate to challenge him on the campaign trail.

Is there a profile story where I can learn more about him? Here it is.

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Democratic gubernatorial candidate Adam Edelen applauded the efforts of his Lexington campaign staff and volunteers Saturday evening with a pizza party at his Lexington campaign headquarters. Matt Goins

Adam Edelen

What’s his birthday? November 26, 1974

Where’s he from? Edelen was born in Meade County and split his time growing up between Louisville and Meade County. He now lives in Lexington.

Where did he go to school? He went to Saint Xavier High School in Louisville and college at the University of Kentucky where he got his bachelors degree in community communication and leadership development from the college of agriculture.

What does he do? Edelen runs his own business consulting agency called Edelen Strategic Ventures. His latest project is a deal to put a solar panel farm on an old surface mine in Eastern Kentucky.

All right, but what would he do about pensions? He thinks the existing system needs more money.

Okay, how would he get the money? Edelen says the state needs comprehensive tax reform in order to create new revenue streams.

What would he do for higher education? Edelen has decried rising tuition (“a tax on hope”) and says he wants to tie funding for higher education to specific programs so it isn’t just used for “administrative bureaucracy.”

How about abortion? Edelen is pro-choice. He says women cannot feel equal if they are not free to make their own decisions about their bodies.

Where does he stand on cannabis? Edelen is for legalizing medicinal marijuana and for decriminalizing the possession of small amounts of marijuana.

Why is he the best candidate to beat Bevin? Edelen is positioning himself as a candidate of the future and says he is providing ideas that offer more than just opposition to the Republican Party.

Is there a profile story? You know it. Click Here.

Voter info

Polls are open 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Anyone in line by 6 p.m. may vote.

Voters must produce identification or be known by a precinct officer before voting.

To find out if you are registered to vote and where you vote, visit GoVoteKY.com.

If you see problems, call the state attorney general’s election fraud hot line, 1-800-328-8683.

Election results on Kentucky.com

Get live results on all contested races starting at 6 p.m. Tuesday.

Follow @bgpolitics on Twitter for election updates.

Hear from the 2019 Democratic candidates Adam Edelen, Rocky Adkins, and Andy Beshear on how they plan to address Kentucky's ailing pension systems.

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