Though the dirt at Churchill Downs has barely settled from American Pharaoh’s Derby victory, Kentuckians must pick another round of winners in Tuesday’s primary.
The biggest contest is on the Republican side of the gubernatorial race where voters will choose between frontrunner and former legislator Hal Heiner, Agriculture Commissioner James Comer, entrepreneur Matt Bevin and former Kentucky Supreme Court Justice Will T. Scott. The winner will likely face Attorney General Jack Conway, a Democrat, who appears poised to cruise past retired engineer Geoff Young in the Democratic heat.
It’s a race that has already produced the hallmarks of a classic political drama — or at least a
middle school cafeteria with domestic violence accusations, a criminally overdue library book and insults comparing candidates to former Duke basketball bad boy Christian Laettner.
Here’s what you need to know about the cash fueling the race:
Campaigns and outside groups active in Kentucky’s governor’s race have raised at least $12.8 million — about one-third of the $36 million wagered on the Kentucky Derby earlier this month. SHARE THIS:
Ahead of Tuesday’s primary, candidates and their boosters have produced $4 million worth of TV ads, more than double the money spent on TV ads for neighboring Tennessee’s entire 2014 gubernatorial election.SHARE THIS:
Kentucky voters have already been subjected to more than 13,800 TV ads leading up to Tuesday’s gubernatorial primary — a quarter of which were bought by independent groups.SHARE THIS:
Call it a rich man’s race? Every GOP candidate in Kentucky’s gubernatorial primary is the top funder of his own campaign: Heiner $4.2 million; Bevin $1.75 million; Comer $95,000; Scott $198,000.SHARE THIS:
Fueled by his own millions, Heiner — a commercial real estate developer and former legislator — put up his first campaign ad for this race nearly a year ago.SHARE THIS:
GOP candidate Heiner is also getting a boost from two groups — one political action committee, one nonprofit — that bashed his opponents with $330,000 in TV ads.SHARE THIS:
A PAC run by Heiner’s former campaign manager is attacking Heiner’s opponents in Kentucky’s GOP primary. Its top backers are wealthy Kentuckian Ward Correll and his son Jess.SHARE THIS:
Citizens for a Sound Government, a nonprofit that does not disclose its donors, has paid for $240,000 in ads attacking Heiner’s opponents. The group also gave $120,000 to another group boosting Heiner.SHARE THIS:
Colorado-based Citizens for a Sound Government used the same playbook in the Nebraska governor’s GOP primary last year. SHARE THIS:
Outside money has boosted Comer’s camp, too. A group funded by coal executive Joseph Craft and businessman Terry Stephens has spent $550,000 on ads touting him for Kentucky governor.SHARE THIS:
If Tuesday’s GOP primary winner beats the Democratic nominee in November, he would be only the fourth Republican to occupy the Kentucky governor’s mansion since 1931.SHARE THIS:
Kentucky’s race is one of only three gubernatorial primaries in 2015. Mississippi’s primary is Aug. 4. Louisiana’s is Oct. 24.SHARE THIS:
Sources: Center for Public Integrity analysis of data current through May 4 from the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance and TV ads through May 10 from media tracking firm Kantar Media/CMAG.