|Matt Bevin. Provided|
Fort Thomas Matters sat down with Matt Bevin before a debate held at NKU in which Bevin, Heiner and Chris McDaniel, who represented the Comer ticket as the Lt. Governor candidate, were present. Scott did not make the trip to Highland Heights.
The interview took place the day after the CN2 televised debate, when tensions began to rise.
Fort Thomas Matters: Throughout this Governor’s race, you and the other Republican candidates haven't differed much on the issues. What are some characteristics you do not want to be associated with as a candidate?
Matt Bevin: A flip-flopper. Somebody who will literally say whatever needs to be said based on who they’re talking to in order to curry favor with that group. It’s not a partisan thing; it’s as systemic in the Republican ranks as the Democrat ranks. It’s everything that’s wrong with the political system.
So the flip opposite of that, no pun intended, is: what have I learned and what is it that has been helpful based on this race and the last race?
Consistency. People want consistency. They want you to say if you’re for “x” that you’re really for “X” and you’re going to be for “x” even when you’re in a room full of people who believe “y.”
Recently, I don’t know if you had a chance to go when the Chamber had an event in Northern Kentucky, half the positions I took, and I obviously think that I articulated them as well or better than the others on the stage, but part of the reason I was able to do so was because I really believe those things. Now I knew for a fact that at least half the positions I took fly in the face of what the Chamber is calling for, but I believe what I believe for a reason.
I do not need or want this job badly enough to misrepresent my thinking.
FTM: But you want the job bad, right?
MB: I want the job because the job needs to be done. I don’t mean this dismissively. I’m willing to do the job. I’m not desperate for the job, I’m not, I’m really not. If I don’t win because the people know exactly what I would do and they don’t want it, I don’t want to lead people who do not want to do the tough things that need to be done.
FTM: Do we need a new bridge? How do we pay for it without tolls, as you’ve stated?
MB: We do need a new bridge and I’ve been clear.
There are people who would straight up say its interstate commerce. This is the purview of the Federal government; it’s their job they should pay for all of it.
That’s great in theory. The Federal Government is broke. There is not 3 billion dollars in any kitty somewhere that is going to come and build that bridge. And if that’s not clear to us by the time we’ve got the Speaker of the House on one side of the river and the Senate Majority on the other and there’s no $3 billion…It’s not coming.
FTM: So given that, where does the money come from?
MB: There has been a lot of good faith effort that has been rewarded in recent years by the Federal Government. So, if we came up with a third, Ohio came up with a third, then the Federal Government may come up with a third. The question is how do we pay for a billion dollars? And that’s where I’m a strong proponent of using bonding.
FTM: Do the perceived jabs that Gov. John Kasich takes at Northern Kentucky bother you? Would that affect these talks?
MB: I don’t know John personally, but here’s the thing. He’s a pragmatist, he’s a business guy. He likes to get the last word. But I’m not dissimilar is some aspects,--I think we would find each other to be kind of birds of a feather on certain fronts.
We’re both business people, we’re both practical people. I’m confident we could. I am very confident we could. You have to have thicker skin, you have to be able to make decisions that are based on more than just political word play.
FTM: Your “Blueprint for Kentucky” has 7 issues outlined. What’s become the one you’ve talked about most?
MB: Every one of those 7 is designed to do one thing and one thing only which is to create jobs in this state. And so while it may seem trite to say that, the truth be told, the reason those 7 are all economic in nature, are all financial in nature, are all about shoring up the foundational base of this state financially in nature, is on purpose. We’ve got education, healthcare, the tax structure in this state, the labor law in this state, the pension crisis in this state. The one thing, frankly, that people are paying attention to in this state and also most concerning to people is the pension crisis. More and more people are recognizing the fact that we are fast on the road to insolvency. Teachers are worried and they should be. Policemen are worried and they should be. The employees across the board are worried and they should be because we have very few dollars relative to the obligations that we have.
I’m the only person in this race that’s ever worked in the pension business—on either side, Republican or Democrat. I started a firm here in Kentucky that manages now more than 5 billion in pension assets. It’s not just like well I once invested money for my neighbors, I mean I understand this business. I really do.
FTM: Another point on your “Blueprint” Right to Work. Counties are beginning to pass these ordinances county-wide. What would you say to our Campbell County leaders who may say that these ordinances are illegal?
MB: It’s a good question. Let me back up than I’ll come to the hard part. It should not have to happen from the county up. It shouldn’t. We’ve had now about a dozen that have had a first or second reading in our passed ordinance. It’s only 10% roughly. It should not have to happen from the bottom up. It should be lead from the top down and that needs to happen legislatively through Frankfort. That’s how it should be done.
So what I would tell them is listen, elect me governor and I will lead on this front to ensure we get it done. The hesitancy that people have is they worry about that they don’t want to alienate unions and we don’t want to alienate their membership and we don’t want to depress wages and these are some of the concerns you here but they are not founded in facts unfortunately. The statistics show unequivocally that the states that have, in fact, introduced right to work legislation are the states in which union membership has actually increased.
FTM: The Blueprint for Kentucky is 7 points, 2 pages. Is it too simplistic?
MB: It’s designed like that because here is the reality: if you chase 2 rabbits, you won’t catch either one of them. If you chase 10 rabbits or 100 rabbits, you certainly won’t catch any of them. It is simple because we’ve got to identify the rabbits and run them down one at a time. There’s a thousand other things I’d love to see happen on any number of fronts. Economic and otherwise and indeed I will lead on those in degree of time and effort allowed. But, if we don’t get our financial house in order, these other points relatively become moot points.
As I said at the beginning of this, I don’t need or want this badly enough to misrepresent what I would do.
FTM: Things have gotten a little testier on the campaign trail over the last few weeks. Why?
MB: The difference is what they are doing is telling lies. I’m telling the truth. If people feel that talking about voting records is somehow unfair play, my gracious, we’ve gotten too far off field in the whole political process.
When a person will sit you and tell you in Northern Kentucky that they are against tolling, and when they’ve been actually been given the opportunity to vote on it in the past, they were for it…people should know that. Don’t flip flop.
If people will tell the US Chamber of Commerce and the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, and every other gathering of Chambers that meet with (including) Northern Kentucky, that they are for Kynect and keeping it in place. But then when I get in the race and say very clearly and unequivocally that I’m going to dismantle it and now they are back and forth, flip flopping, even sometimes in the same debate.
They believe that whatever they think they have to tailor to that audience at that time to get elected. This is not leadership. We need people with courage; we need people with a spine, with the intestinal fortitude to make hard decisions. That is what is needed. So, what I’m doing is challenging these guys. You say that you’re against this, you say you are for that, you know tolling, you say you are against tolling, why were you for it in the past? One I didn’t even mention last night, the second amendment. That matters to a lot of Kentuckians.
FTM: It sounds like this bothers you quite a bit.
MB: I mean Hal voted to restrict people’s ability to, even if they’re concealed gun owners, as to where they could and could not carry when he’s a councilman. I disagree with that. It isn’t the role of government officials to constrain the 2nd amendment. It is not. So, there are differences and I will point those out and I’ll continue to and if people take offence to it, then they shouldn’t vote me.
FTM: Are you comfortable in debate settings?
MB: I go to more of those meetings, if you gave me a room of a 100 undecided people, and allow us to go back to back to back on issues, I’m confident I would get more than my fair share, I really do. I really have that confidence and the reason being, is because I do know what I’m saying. It’s not memorized, it hasn’t changed, it’s not gratuitous, it’s clear that I’m not trying to read off some cue card that someone else wrote, I mean I really do genuinely believe the things that I believe. I’ve been consistent. I’m the truest conservative in this race, bar none.
FTM: What are your thoughts on Chris McDaniel, the Lt. Gov. candidate, sitting in for James Comer at this type of event?
MB: I think if that’s what your best foot forward is, than you should use it. It’s kind of sad. I mean it’s interesting.
But Chris isn’t going to be the next governor of Kentucky. That I can guarantee you. Jamey should make the case. He’s in the running, he’s the legitimate candidate, and he’s got a real shot, so he should make the case to people. Don’t hide behind proxies. That’s what Hal is doing with these ads. What a coincidence, his former campaign manager had to leave for family reasons, and now we know what family he’s working for. But he’s now just shown up magically and smearing Hal’s opponents. But, there’s no co-ordination, no good, it’s just nonsense. People aren’t stupid. They just need to turn out and vote though, that’s the problem. People need to vote.
FTM: Has Government become too difficult to follow as an average citizen?
MB: Yes. Basically, by confusing people, that justifies why nothing gets done or why you went this way. And to me, I literally have over 20 pages worth of tax policy and work that I’ve done and has been pulled together and is very specific and more nuanced. What is in that blueprint is one page.
One page, on purpose. And it speaks about things that people can get their head around like the death tax. Why are we the only state in…one of 6 states I should say, left in America that has an inheritance tax or a death tax. 16%! We’re at the highest end of that spectrum.
FTM: What’s the number one thing that your running mate, Jenean Hampton, has brought to your ticket?
MB: We’re the only 2 people in this race on either side who grew up below the poverty line. I grew up in the country, she grew up in the city. We’re both military officers. She’s black, she’s a woman. I’m white, I’m a guy.
We bring a complement to each other that we represent who Kentucky is. You know, we are Kentucky. There is no ticket that has ever offered such diversity of life experience, of demographic background, of qualifications, as the ticket we are offering.
FTM: What did you think of Jamey and Hal not doing the read or pie deal?
MB: Come on, why not? Really, what are you above it? Do you not want to help kids? I mean bring a little levity to the situation. Is it going to solve all the world’s problems? No. Will it draw attention to a program that has some fantastic benefits to increase awareness for childhood reading in Kentucky and the Cincinnati region? Absolutely. So bring that to the equation. I think we brought some attention to it anyway, but my goodness, step up!
Did you hear at the end of the video, how much joy my children had? I would have done it just for my kids joy. So, can I do it to bring attention to a worthy cause and help raise money for something that is value added for Kentuckians? Why would I not? That’s a bonus.
FTM: Last one. We are almost 3 weeks away from the primary on May 19. Are you good with where you are on this campaign?
MB: Yes. And I think it’s time for people to start to look at the differences between candidates, where they actually stand on issues.
But, it is disappointing that people who think that this is their birthright in some measure, and that happens on a couple of fronts. In the case of this instance, Hal Heiner felt the need to soil the bed. It’s tragic, it really is. Because this is everything that dampens turnout. It’s the kind of thing that discourages people from turning out to vote and it’s the kind of thing that discourages young people, in particular.
So shame on Hal Heiner for introducing this cancerous element. You’ve surrounded yourself with people who are wilfully, knowingly lying and you don’t have the spine, you don’t have the intestinal fortitude to repudiate that?
Bottom line is, it is nobody’s birthright to be governor. It’s not mine or anyone else’s.