Bevin leaves media hanging without so much as a ‘pardon me’

By: - January 6, 2023 4:07 pm

Former Gov. Matt Bevin addresses media in the Capitol Rotunda before leaving without filing for governor. (Photo for Kentucky Lantern by Sarah Ladd)

FRANKFORT — Matt Bevin returned to the Kentucky Capitol, spoke for about 30 minutes and then promptly drove away from the building Friday. 

The former Kentucky Republican governor, who narrowly lost to Democrat Andy Beshear in 2019, tweeted hints at a possible 2023 gubernatorial run though he would not answer if he was running for office. The filing deadline passed at 4 p.m. 

In a rambling monologue, he provided his perspective on the upcoming race, named a few Republicans on the ballot whom he considers friends and called on state leaders and the media to tackle issues he believed still needed addressing, from the juvenile justice system to infrastructure to the state’s pension system.

Bevin was governor from 2015-2019. On his way out of office, he issued  hundreds of pardons, which included convicted rapists, murderers and drug offenders, a move that earned him much criticism. State lawmakers in both parties called for an investigation, and Republican Attorney General Daniel Cameron asked the FBI to look into the matter.

Even without Bevin, Republicans have assembled a large primary field. The roster includes Attorney General Daniel Cameron, Commissioner of Agriculture Ryan Quarles, Auditor of Public Accounts Mike Harmon, former United Nations U.S. Ambassador Kelly Craft and Somerset Mayor Alan Keck. 

Cameron was previously endorsed by former President Donald Trump. 

Bevin called on the many candidates in the crowded GOP gubernatorial primary field to “not eat each other up.”

“Let’s not tear each other up and bring each other down,” Bevin said. “Everybody wants to be the nominee, but at what cost?”

He also said Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear is not the enemy of Republicans.

“He’s not the bogeyman. His party isn’t the bogeyman,” Bevin said. “We’re all Kentuckians. Let’s celebrate that fact.” 

Other Republicans who have filed are Robbie Smith, Johnny Ray Rice, Bob DeVore, Eric Deters, David O. Cooper, Jacob Clark and Dennis Ormerod.

Incumbent Beshear has filed to run for a second term in office. Though there are two Democratic challengers, Geoff Young and former 1999 Republican gubernatorial nominee Peppy Martin, he’s expected to breeze to victory in May. According to campaign finance reports, Beshear has raised the most of any gubernatorial candidate, almost $5.2 million. 

At the end of his monologue, the former Republican governor headed for the Capitol exit as reporters asked him if he was filing to run for his old seat, about 30 minutes or so before the deadline. 

As he walked down the front steps of the Capitol, he told reporters to “be bold.”

“Wear them out on those issues in the legislature,” he said before driving away in a van.

Matt Bevin’s van exits the Capitol parking lot. (Photo for Kentucky Lantern by Liam Niemeyer)






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McKenna Horsley
McKenna Horsley

McKenna Horsley covers state politics for the Kentucky Lantern. She previously worked for newspapers in Huntington, West Virginia, and Frankfort, Kentucky. She is from northeastern Kentucky.