Lost in the endless 2016 presidential buzz is the fact that three states (Kentucky, Louisiana and Mississippi) are holding gubernatorial elections here in a few weeks. Currently Democrats hold just Kentucky, with Governor Steve Beshear term-limited, Attorney General Jack Conway (D) is running to succeed him. The Democrats hold just 18 governor seats and in the south the only other gubernatorial seats they hold are West Virginia, Virginia and Missouri.
Democrats in the state of Kentucky was handed a gift when Tea Party darling Matt Bevin won the GOP primary over more moderate and mainstream candidates. The race has been surprisingly close, with Conway ahead by only a few points. Then again this is Kentucky, a solid red state but even Bevin’s stance on issues is too extreme for the Bluegrass state. AP is now reporting that the Republican Governor’s Association, which did great during the 2014 election cycle, is pulling out of Kentucky.
The RGA will stop running television ads for Matt Bevin with a little more than a month to go before Election Day. It should be noted that Matt Bevin is a millionaire and can fund his own ad campaign against Jack Conway but one has to question why the RGA is pulling support. The race in Mississippi isn’t even a contest and the incumbent Republican governor will easily win re-election. In Louisiana, Senator David Vitter (R) has a nice size war chest and in a blood red state like Louisiana it is hard to imagine he would need the RGA’s help. Polls have recently surfaced that shows Vitter with approval ratings in the low 20s but that the prostitute scandal of nearly a decade ago could be hurting him now in this race. There are three Republicans and one Democrat, the top two candidates will move on to a runoff election. It is simply too early to say Democrats have a chance in this deeply red state but Louisiana does seem fed-up with Republicans at the state-level.
That being said the RGA dropped out of this race because they see it as a lost cause, just like the Democratic National Senate Committee left candidate Alison Grimes in the dark in Kentucky last year. The association had spent $3 million on six ads for Bevins, most of them attacking Conway by linking him the President, who hates Kentucky and wants to kill anything coal. Bevin, shockingly has only aired one ad on his own, spending just slightly over $1 million so far on this race.