Politics & Government

Matt Bevin tells Lexington business crowd he has begun vetting potential hires as governor

Republican gubernatorial candidate Matt Bevin responded to a question from a Kentucky Farm Bureau board member in July.
Republican gubernatorial candidate Matt Bevin responded to a question from a Kentucky Farm Bureau board member in July. Herald-Leader

Republican gubernatorial candidate Matt Bevin said Thursday that he has already begun "vetting" potential employees of his administration, boasting to a Lexington crowd that "the odds are I'm going to be your next governor" and asking them for their hiring suggestions.

During the question-and-answer segment of Bevin's appearance before Commerce Lexington, Bevin was asked what his administration would look like by Bill Bissett, president of the Kentucky Coal Association.

"It will look like people who on average have at least as much gray hair as I do," Bevin said. "They are people with decades of experience in whatever area they are overseeing."

He added: "These are not going to be somebody's kid whose father once gave me a lot of money and that kid needs a job because he studied French literature. None of that nonsense."

Bevin then asked the room to send him suggestions for who should work in his administration, directing them to his website to send recommendations.

"I want to know who you think would be the right people in any respective area," he said. "I would ask you to send me four things: The person's name, what their qualifications are, what you think they would be good at and how I can get a hold of them. That's it. One line on each. Less is more. This is what I need."

Saying that he is "already having conversations" with potential hires and appointments, Bevin said hiring people after taking office would be "like drinking out of a firehose."

"One mistake that is often made is you wait until you win and then you've got a transition and then you've got to submit a budget. All of a sudden, you're upside down," he said. "We're getting out in front of it, not to be presumptuous, but because we must."

Republican and Democratic insiders have wondered throughout the summer how Bevin, who does not have an extensive political operation, might go about the process of hiring for his potential administration.

Proclaiming his independence, Bevin said that getting into office without owing anybody anything "is equally unnerving to Republicans and Democrats alike."

"There's not a person in this state — there's not one person who has been promised a job," he said. "There's not one favor that needs to be paid back. There was not a single elected official — not one — who supported me or endorsed me during the primary. And that's fine. That's their prerogative. They were all somewhere else. This is wonderful. I've got no favors to pay back."

Bevin also dismissed the idea of state Sen. Ralph Alvarado, R-Winchester, who wants to market Kynect, the state's health care exchange, to other states.

Calling Alvarado a "good friend" and saying he has a "great idea," Bevin said "it's a good idea in theory."

"The reality is there's no marketplace for that," he said, adding: "Nobody's clamoring for 'Hey, what state exchange can we get on to?' They've got the federal exchange."

Reiterating his plan to shut down Kynect and transfer enrollees to the federal health care exchange, Bevin said he has spoken with other Republican governors and "they are quite happy using the federal exchange."

Bevin also continued to criticize Attorney General Jack Conway, his Democratic opponent in the race for governor, and Gov. Steve Beshear for being "cowardly and silent" in protecting the religious beliefs of Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis, who was jailed for several days after refusing a federal judge's order to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Bevin, who spoke at a rally outside the Carter County jail following Davis' release from jail Tuesday, repeated his call to remove the names of clerks from marriage licenses and to make the forms downloadable on the Internet.

"It could be fixed like that," he said, snapping his fingers. "It should have been. This entire carnival that has been uncorked never should have been. Were there leadership in this state, instead of partisan political decision-making, and this is how I would govern."