Politics & Government

Prominent Republicans backing Comer urge voters to ignore allegation of abuse

T.J. Comer, wife of Republican gubernatorial candidate James Comer, thanks supporters at a Capitol news conference.
T.J. Comer, wife of Republican gubernatorial candidate James Comer, thanks supporters at a Capitol news conference.

FRANKFORT — Republican voters in next Tuesday's primary election for governor should not be concerned about abuse allegations against candidate James Comer, more than 20 current or former GOP officials said Wednesday at a news conference on the front steps of the state Capitol.

"There's nothing to that," said Julie Denton, a member of the Louisville Metro Council and a former state senator, who led the news conference attended by Comer's wife, T.J. Comer.

When the entire group was asked whether anyone thinks GOP voters should be concerned that a woman Comer dated in college has claimed that he hit her, belittled her, made a threatening phone call to her mother and drove her to a Louisville abortion clinic in the early 1990s, no one spoke.

"They wouldn't be here if they thought so," Denton said.

Comer, who is in a heated race to become the Republican nominee for governor, has denied the allegations, which Marilyn Thomas made last week in a letter sent to The Courier-Journal.

Denton contended that the allegations were being made just before the primary election for "political gain."

Former U.S. Rep. Anne Northup, R-Louisville, said there is "not a bit of evidence" of any wrongdoing by Comer.

Two women who roomed with Thomas during college have told the media that they witnessed Comer being emotionally abusive toward Thomas, but neither of them witnessed any physical violence. One roommate, Wendy Curley, told The Courier-Journal that she saw suspicious bruises on Thomas and that she remembered Comer dropping Thomas off at their dorm after taking her to the abortion clinic. Thomas' 83-year-old mother told The Courier-Journal that Comer once called, threatening to kill her daughter.

No police report was ever filed.

Before Denton took questions from reporters, none of the speakers had mentioned the abuse allegations against Comer.

In a statement after the news conference, the Heiner campaign said that Comer said during a debate Monday night that he was moving past the allegations to talk about issues.

"It only took two days for his campaign to bring the allegations up again and go back to negative attacks — this time by a group of surrogates," Heiner campaign spokesman Doug Alexander said. "One has to wonder why he keeps bringing these allegations up. We are focused on winning this primary door to door and community to community, not by hurling negative attacks."

A Bluegrass Poll released Tuesday showed Bevin, Comer and Heiner in a statistical tie with one week to go before the election. Retired state Supreme Court Justice Will T. Scott was trailing the pack.

At the news conference, House Minority Leader Jeff Hoover, R-Jamestown, said Comer is the Republicans' best chance to beat presumptive Democratic gubernatorial nominee Jack Conway in the November general election.

Senate Majority Caucus chairman Dan Seum, R-Louisville, praised Comer's performance as state agriculture commissioner and said Kentuckians don't need a governor who needs on-the-job training.

The Comer campaign also released a 34-second video Wednesday morning that features T.J. Comer describing her husband as "loving" and a "proud father of our three children."

"He's a man led by his faith in God," she said, who has "blue-collar roots, conservative principles and commitment to making a difference."

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