Politics & Government

Bevin compares protesting teachers to misbehaving children in video taken by Democrats

The Kentucky Democratic Party criticized Gov. Matt Bevin Tuesday after he chided teachers in Boyd County for protesting him during an announcement of road funds for Boyd County.

The video shows Bevin addressing a group of protesting teachers from a podium and urging them to cross the street to “have a conversation.”

“If you really genuinely want what is best you could be on this side and join in the celebration,” Bevin says. “In all seriousness, the very behavior that you’re exemplifying, you would — any child who acted this way at recess or in your schools, you would not accept it. And the fact that, as adults, you’re modeling this for the children that are here, says a lot more about why you’re really here. If you truly care about this community you’d come on over and be a part of the community.”

The video, recorded by a tracker for the national Democratic group American Bridge, highlights the confrontational relationship between Bevin and teachers that has put the governor in a precarious position as he seeks reelection. Another video, recorded by the same group, showed teachers arguing with Bevin, saying he was just delivering money to the county to buy their votes.

“Matt Bevin’s latest confrontation towards teachers is just another example of his bullying and disrespect towards the people who dedicate their lives to educating the next generation of Kentuckians,” said Marisa McNee, spokeswoman for the Kentucky Democratic Party. “For Bevin to suggest that teachers — many of whom take up second jobs to make ends meet — don’t care about their community is wrong.”

Bevin’s campaign pointed out that Bevin attempted to have a discussion with the teachers.

“It is very telling that Andy and his liberal entourage are outraged that their governor took the time to thoughtfully listen to Andy’s own supporters,” said Davis Paine, Bevin’s campaign manager. “Andy and his liberal funders are so furious that the governor has stopped their radical agenda that they now consider it unacceptable to have a dialogue on important issues.”

Attorney General Andy Beshear, Bevin’s Democratic opponent, has built his campaign around courting teachers who are angry with Bevin over proposals he made to overhaul their pension system and disparaging comments he made about their decision to protest pension legislation in Frankfort. Beshear added Jacqueline Coleman, a former high school vice principal, to his ticket as a running mate and has promised to raise teacher salaries and shrink class sizes in schools.

Beshear has said that if he wins, he’ll end “Bevin’s war on public education,” a characterization that Bevin and the Republicans have scoffed at. Bevin often points out that he has fully funded the pension system, that funding for K-12 education has increased during his time in office and that he pushed to finally have all Kentucky Lottery proceeds spent on education, as had been long promised.

This isn’t the first time Bevin has received a frosty reception in Eastern Kentucky while on the campaign trail. At Hillbilly Days in Pikeville earlier this year, Bevin was greeted by a chorus of boos from people with red signs saying “Bye, Bye, Bevin.”