DANVILLE — There was hardly any new ground broken in the gubernatorial debate between Democratic Attorney General Jack Conway and Republican Matt Bevin on Tuesday, a debate more remarkable for what wasn't asked than what was.
Over the course of the hourlong debate at Centre College, which was hosted by AARP and WAVE3 news, Conway and Bevin continued to show voters how much they dislike each other, trading familiar blows over familiar subjects.
While the candidates engaged in sharp exchanges over the state's pension crisis, the saga of Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis and the possibility of legalized gambling, the subjects of Kynect and Medicaid expansion somehow never came up.
Asked after the debate if they were disappointed that there was no discussion of the health care programs affecting more than a half-million Kentuckians, the candidates continued their habits of disagreeing with each other.
Digital Access For Only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
"I am not disappointed by it," Bevin said. "I thought it was a fantastic debate."
Conway, however, said he was "very disappointed" that the issue wasn't debated.
"I would've thought that would've come up because I think there's such a sharp contrast on this issue between the two of us," Conway said. "I mean my opponent has really been conflating Kynect and Medicaid for nine months now."
Conway said that Bevin "squirms" when the issue comes up, recalling Bevin's adamant statement in February that when it comes to Gov. Steve Beshear's executive order lowering the qualifications to receive Medicaid, Bevin said he would "reverse that immediately."
"How does that not kick nearly a half-million people off their health care coverage?" Conway said. "How does it not? He hasn't given us a straight answer at any point during this campaign."
Conway added that the health care programs "should've been part of the debate tonight, and hopefully it'll be part of the next two debates we have."
Independent candidate Drew Curtis, who was not invited to participate in the debate but attended as an audience member, said he was surprised the issues didn't come up, especially since AARP co-sponsored the debate.
"Maybe everybody's just tired of hearing them not answer the question," Curtis said, referring to Bevin and Conway.
When asked for his impression of the debate, Curtis said that if he had "a table in front of me to repeatedly bang my forehead against the entire hour, I would have absolutely been doing that."
During the debate, the candidates were allowed, during one segment, to ask questions of each other, leading Conway to try to pin down Bevin on his previously stated argument that there should be random drug testing for Medicare recipients.
Bevin said that Kentuckians who are "on the draw" should be subjected to random drug testing.
When it came time for his question to Conway, Bevin threw a laundry list at Conway, mentioning for the second time that Conway cried when he announced last year that he would not appeal the gay marriage decision, that Conway was a delegate at the Democratic National Convention, and asking Conway "whose values do you support?"
Conway also pressed the case of Bevin's refusal to follow the state's bipartisan tradition of candidates releasing their tax returns, leading Bevin to assert that his returns would show that he made less money than Conway and gave more away to charity.
Bevin went on to say that "frankly, it's none of your business."
When the candidates were asked for their views on additional gun control measures following the recent shooting in Oregon, both men said they do not favor additional gun laws.