In their last debate before voters go to the polls next Tuesday, Republican Matt Bevin and Democrat Jack Conway continued to trade jabs, but in the end, one candidate did manage to compliment the other.
The debate, hosted by KET, was marked by the same sharp exchanges between the candidates that have defined the race, and it was clear early that Bevin wanted to be aggressive in his questioning of Conway.
If voters needed any reminder that there is no love lost between the two, Bevin repeatedly interrupted Conway during his answers, leaving Conway laughing and shaking his head throughout the hourlong affair.
As in a debate Sunday night, some of the sharpest exchanges came over the future of Kentucky's health care programs when Conway repeated his argument that Bevin wants to "kick a half million people off their health insurance."
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Bevin again disputed that his stated goal of reversing Gov. Steve Beshear's executive orders would result in people losing their health insurance, saying for the first time that by asking Medicaid recipients to pay for part of their coverage, Kentucky might be able to add more people to the ranks than it has now.
"I don't care if it's a dollar or two dollars," Bevin said. "If I'm governor, people should have skin in the game."
When KET host Bill Goodman asked Bevin directly if he would continue to cover Kentuckians at 138 percent of the federal poverty level, Bevin said he would not.
Saying Kentucky would "continue to have people on Medicaid and plenty of them," Bevin continued his argument that the state cannot afford the expanded health care programs in their current form, "whether it seems like the Christian thing to do or the fair thing to do or however you want to put it."
Bevin also continued to make the case that the collapse of Kentucky Health Cooperative was proof that "the reality is, Obamacare isn't working."
Conway again called Bevin's plans for reversing Beshear's executive orders "callous."
The state's pension crisis was also front and center Monday night as Conway said he was committed to making the full annual required contribution to the state retirees fund, calling for a dedicated revenue stream.
Conway did not say where that revenue stream would come from, but he did say the crisis might be the "impetus" the state needs to allow a vote on legalized gaming.
Bevin called for budget cuts across cabinets and state agencies to help shore up the pensions, and he proposed switching new hires to a defined contribution 401(k)-style program.
Bevin conceded that doing so would cost the state the money new hires pay into the existing program.
"Of course it will," he said of his plan. "Of course it will."
Neither candidate said they wanted to use money from the state's rainy day fund to shore up payments to the pensions.
The candidates also fought about Conway's support for coal, Conway's lawsuits against pharmaceutical companies and the overall economic health of the state.
Bevin repeatedly accused Conway of not understanding business or economics, saying at one point: "It's not your fault, Jack, you're a politician."
As he did Sunday night, Bevin accused Conway of fostering an anti-business climate by "shaking down" corporations, citing Conway's lawsuits against pharmaceutical companies and his role in securing the tobacco settlement payouts.
Conway responded by saying he hoped the agricultural community heard what Bevin had said, saying that money had gone to farmers in need and to early childhood education programs.
In the end, Conway complimented Bevin, who has adopted four children from Africa, for providing them with opportunity and a good home.
Bevin's only compliment to Conway was that he would soon be able to work in the private sector for the first time.
After the debate, apparently wanting to avoid a replay of Sunday night's contentious gaggle with the press, Bevin immediately left the building while Conway was taking questions.
Bevin's decision to leave led Conway to say there is "a significant question of temperament," noting that "when you're governor, things aren't always going to go your way."
"I think what he's shown over these last couple of nights is that he doesn't have the temperament to be the governor of Kentucky," Conway said. "He's not going to be able to storm out of a Republican caucus meeting in the Senate when he's talking about what they're going to have to get through."