Beshear, Donohue welcome COPE Committee nod

By BERRY CRAIG

AFT Local 1360

Andy Beshear didn’t mince words about the guy whose job he wants.

“Matt Bevin is the most disastrous force I’ve ever seen in that governor’s office, but together we’re going to make him a one-term governor.”

The Kentucky State AFL-CIO Executive Board loved it. The members cheered and applauded the brand new Democratic candidate for governor.  

The election is Nov. 5. 

Acting as the COPE (Committee on Political Education) Committee, the panel had just unanimously endorsed Beshear’s bid to oust the GOP governor.

The outgoing attorney general beat House Minority Leader Rocky Adkins, former auditor Adam Edelen and perennial candidate Geoff Young in Tuesday’s four-way Democratic primary.

In the Republican primary, Bevin fended off an unexpectedly strong challenge from state Rep. Robert Goforth. William Woods and Ike Lawrence rounded out the GOP field.

Organized labor sometimes compares Bevin to fiercely anti-union former Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. A Republican, he was defeated for election last November. Bevin was elected in 2015 after calling for a "right to work" law and for repealing the prevailing wage.

The Republicans already had a pro-RTW and anti-PW Senate majority. After the GOP flipped the House in 2016, both measures quickly passed in early in 2017 and Bevin speedily signed RTW and PW repeal into law. 

He continues to champion anti-union bills.  

 The COPE Committee met at the Capital Plaza Hotel in Frankfort and voted to back the whole Democratic slate.  Beshear and Sheri Donohue, who won her party's nomination for auditor, dropped in to thank the committee.

“Although we went into Tuesday with three strong tickets, each one supporting working families...as of today we are one family united to win this election,” Beshear said. He invited organized labor to join the family.

Donohue spoke after Beshear wrapped up.

Donohue promised that if she beats Auditor Mike Harmon, she will “audit all the state contracts that have been impacted since the elimination of prevailing wage.”

She said the contracts aren’t saving taxpayers money because “you’re going to have more maintenance, more repairs, more replacements because you have subpar work.”

Donohue said it’s also a public safety issue. “You don’t want your kids…on a school bus that’s [crossing]…a bridge that has been built or repaired by somebody that doesn’t have the experience because [a construction company owner was]...trying to save money on labor.”

Beshear said that as the fall campaign heats up, the contrast between Bevin and him “will be clear. We have a current governor that favors the out-of-state CEO. I’m going to be a governor that favors our working families every single day.”

The crowd repeatedly interrupted Donohue and Beshear's remarks with cheers and clapping.

“Every year that I serve as your governor, we are going to work to repeal that right to work for less bill," Beshear pledged. "Every year that I’m governor we’re going to work to restore the prevailing wage.

“We’re going to get back to protecting our working families. We’re going to restore the OSHA board. The labor cabinet is going to do its job and we’re going to restore those skilled trade boards so that people who know what they’re doing can set the right regulations to protect our people.”

He warned that Bevin will stump the state claiming the economy is humming. “But you know the truth; you know we have the third lowest per capita income in the country. You know we have the third lowest wage growth in the country.

"So what does that mean? It means your working families work hard but fall behind, and further behind, every week because their wages don’t go up but the gas bill and the grocery bill and the power bill do every single month.”

Beshear’s running mate is educator Jacqueline Coleman. “This ticket is about Kentuckians and not those out-of-state interests," he said.

He promised that the Beshear-Coleman team will work to create jobs that pay good wages and “stop giving these corporate tax incentives to companies that don’t create jobs that pay a living wage.”

He also committed his administration to fighting "for affordable health care for every single Kentuckian because it’s a basic human right." Beshear added that he is “committed to ending this drug epidemic in our lifetime” and to keeping “our pension promise to all of our public servants.”

He said Bevin “knows that he cannot win this race on his disastrous record of attacking families, trying to tear down public education and calling everyone who disagrees with him names.

"He’s going to focus this campaign on me. I’m going to focus my campaign on you—on our working families all across Kentucky."

Beshear smiled and pointed out that he got more votes Tuesday than his dad, Gov. Steve Beshear, collected when he won the 2007 Democratic primary. The elder Beshear, who notched two terms, piled up 142,735 ballots to 149,438 for his offspring.

“I may have told him that once or twice” since Tuesday night, said Beshear, his grin broadening.

In addition, he was happy to point out that Team Beshear received more votes in the Democratic primary than Bevin and his running mate, state Sen. Ralph Alvarado, managed in the GOP primary (136,036).

Donohue, an engineer and cyber security expert, said Harmon “has basically been absent.” She tagged him “a crony for our current governor” and vowed, “when we ship matt Bevin out, we’re going to ship him out, too.”

Others who earned the state AFL-CIO nod were Heather French Henry for secretary of state, Michael Bowman, treasurer; and Robert Haley Conway, commissioner of agriculture. In March, the COPE Committee unanimously endorsed Greg Stumbo for attorney general.

In the non-partisan election for the state Supreme Court, the committee unanimously endorsed Shea Nickel. The board took no action in the also non-partisan Court of Appeals race between Jacqueline M. Caldwell and Michael O. Caperton.