A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Kentucky Today: Where the two Republican candidates for governor stand on important issues

By Tom Latek
Kentucky Today

The gubernatorial primary is Tuesday and here is a look on how the major gubernatorial Republican candidates stand on some key issues. 

The responses are based information gained from a variety of sources, including responses to a questionnaire, public statements, the candidate’s website and past news reports.

Candidates: Gov. Matt Bevin and Rep. Robert Goforth.

The major candidates are defined as those who have raised at least $100,000 for their campaign, based on figures reported to the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance.

The major Republican slates are Matt Bevin/Ralph Alvarado and Robert Goforth/Michael Hogan.


Bevin:  Has described himself as “The most pro-life governor in America.”  He signed all four bills passed by the General Assembly in 2019 and his administration is actively engaged in defending the legislation in court.

Goforth: Has voted for every pro-life bill that came to the House in 2019 and was a co-sponsor of everyone that originated in the House.


Bevin: Is the father of four adopted children. Has led forums on adoption and foster care reforms, supported and signed several pieces of legislation dealing with the issue and hired people into the administration to deal with foster care and adoption reform issues.

Goforth: Has voted for every bill dealing with foster care reform since joining the General Assembly last year.


Bevin: Has criticized past expanded gambling proposals, arguing that societal costs make the proposal “a sucker’s bet.”

Goforth: I’m for considering all reasonable and viable solutions to raise revenue, but I have a problem with predatory expanded gambling which I believe preys on the most vulnerable in our society. 


Bevin: Has said he’d be happy to sign a bill approving the use of medical marijuana after witnessing the death of a teenage nephew who had cancer who he said could have been helped by the “incredible medicinal value associated with cannabis.”  He opposes legalizing recreational marijuana.

Goforth: Opposed how a medicinal marijuana bill that was considered by the General Assembly this year was structured.  If we’re going to call it medicine, as a pharmacist, my job is to make sure that the public safety is number one and if we’re going to call it medicine, we need to treat it like medication.


Bevin: I’ve never wavered from my original promise to give everything I have, including my expertise as a successful businessman in the arena of retirement investments, to fix this problem. It’s why I was willing to take the slings and arrows of those who would kick the can down the road and withstand the political pressure that tried to convince me we couldn’t afford to fully fund our pension system. I did so because it was the right thing to do.  I won’t rest until the pensions are sustainable and can be counted on by our teachers and other public employees.  He also notes he is the first Governor in years to fully fund the pension system.

Goforth: Our teachers, police, firefighters, and EMS personnel along with all state, county, and city employees were made a promise. These promises are legal obligations from the state to its employees that must be fulfilled. We need to quit alarming people and start finding effective solutions. Robert will work to fully fund our pensions in a way that is just and fair to all. Pension dollars are crucial to Kentucky’s economy and they affect far more than just pension holders–small businesses in all of our communities are affected, too. We have to do what is right for our current and retired state employees, and for all of Kentucky.


Bevin: Updating and simplifying our antiquated tax code will allow us to better compete with surrounding states. We will focus on raising only the revenue truly necessary to run the state government. We must also take additional steps such as eliminating the state inheritance tax and lowering individual and corporate tax rates. Under my leadership, tax reform will not be based simply on revenue neutrality, but rather, to the extent possible, on reducing tax revenue itself and leaving as much of Kentucky’s wealth in the hands of those who produce it.

Goforth: By cleaning up costly, ineffective tax breaks, we can create a Kentucky that works for all of us. More resources will allow us to reinvest in our schools, provide adequate community services, upgrade our infrastructure and more.
While maintaining legitimate exceptions to the state sales tax for essential items like groceries and prescription medications, we should eliminate other exemptions that drain revenue from the General Fund without achieving critical policy goals.

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