Bevin, Beshear get heated in contentious 'Kentucky Debate'

Matt Bevin and Andy Beshear took part in a contentious debate in Lexington on Tuesday. (Gray...
Matt Bevin and Andy Beshear took part in a contentious debate in Lexington on Tuesday. (Gray Television)(WKYT)
Published: Oct. 15, 2019 at 8:02 PM EDT
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Matt Bevin and Andy Beshear debated several issues, and it sometimes got contentious between the two political rivals during 'The Kentucky Debate' Tuesday evening at UK's Singletary Center.

The incumbent Republican Bevin and the Democratic Attorney General Beshear had some heated exchanges on several topics, as the two debated education, healthcare, pensions and other topics.

It sometimes got personal between the two, including a discussion about education. As Beshear touted his public education past and his continued advocacy for it in Kentucky, Bevin questioned his support by questioning why his opponent's children are in private schools.

Bevin would also go after Andy Beshear's father, former Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear, for his handling of the pension system as governor. Beshear criticized Bevin's policies on pension reform, including a wastewater bill that turned into a pension bill. That bill was passed, signed into law and later struck down by the Kentucky Supreme Court. Beshear would argue that the pensions public employees receive are a promise from the state, and Bevin's attempted reforms would break the promise.

The topic of abortion would also result in a heated exchange. Beshear announced his support for Roe v. Wade but wasn't for late-term abortions. He also said Bevin's policies of a total abortion ban don't protect victims of rape and incest. Bevin said he would fight for the unborn, who don't have a choice on whether mothers decide to have an abortion. He labeled his opponent as "pro-abortion" and also tied Beshear to pro-choice groups.

The two would also debate healthcare policies, as Bevin would continue his support for Medicaid work requirements, arguing that people should be able to work to receive federal assistance. Beshear called the policy damaging to many Kentuckians who use federal assistance and argued that Bevin's plan would create an additional tax burden.

Bevin and Beshear would show some common ground on jail overcrowding, advocating for alternative methods to help those addicted to drugs. The two would go after each other on private prisons, with Beshear vowing against those prisons. Bevin would respond with a common theme in the debate, criticizing Beshear's father's time as governor by saying most were opened by him.

When asked whether the Kentucky gubernatorial election is a referendum on national issues, Bevin said it played a role, saying the overall economic health of the country is benefiting Kentuckians and a Democratic presidency would be damaging to progress. Beshear used the question to focus on state issues, saying that's what should matter most to Kentucky voters.

The Kentucky gubernatorial election takes place Nov. 5.