What did Kentucky’s Republican governor Matt Bevin ever do to the New York Times? The lead National Section story in Sunday’s edition, “Kentuckians Face Conundrum in Governor’s Race,” by Campbell Robertson, tried to manufacture hope that Bevin’s bad personality (in the paper’s estimation) might be a stumbling block in his re-election race in November.
Under normal circumstances, the Kentucky governor’s race would be all but over except for the concession phone call. The incumbent running for re-election this year is a conservative Republican in a state that has recently become as red as hot coal, where unemployment is as low as it has been in nearly two decades and most of the voters are still crazy about the governor’s ally, President Trump.
“This is not a normal governor’s race,” said Paul Patton, a former Democratic governor, sitting in his memento-filled office at the University of Pikeville. “We’ve got an abnormal governor.”
There are reasons that Matt Bevin, a millionaire businessman who stomped into Kentucky politics from the right, is by some polls the least popular governor in the United States. His proposed cuts to government services have been steep and his plans to tackle the state’s long underfunded pension program have been seen by many as a betrayal. But the main issue with Mr. Bevin, acknowledged even by his supporters, is not what he has done but how he has done it.
He has tangled with journalists, union representatives and Democrats, but he has been startlingly harsh on less typical targets -- like public school teachers. After thousands of educators walked out last year in protest of budget cuts and proposed changes to teacher pensions, Mr. Bevin accused some who picketed a state senator’s business of having a “thug mentality” and called others “selfish” and “ignorant.”
He blamed those involved in the walkouts for hypothetical poisonings and sexual assaults as well as a very real shooting....
The hostile, opinionated description continued in this "news" story:
But what many seem to love about Trump -- the pugnaciousness, the go-it-alone attitude, the indifference to the normal political process -- are precisely the same things that turn some off Mr. Bevin.
“The national level is farther away than it is for me right here,” is how Karen Howard, 68, a retired schoolteacher in western Kentucky, accounted for the different receptions. As a Republican, Ms. Howard said she had “probably” voted for Mr. Bevin in 2015 but this year would vote for “Bobo the clown” before she voted for his re-election.
They all agreed that Mr. Trump’s appearances at rallies would help Mr. Bevin. But Trump-like behavior: That was a different matter.
The paper also went after Bevin when he first got elected in 2014, calling him a Tea Party “loose cannon.” The Tea Party has faded, so the paper merely swaps insults, now calling Bevin a Trumper with no regard for political niceties. It’s hard to imagine the Times raking a liberal Democratic governor over the “hot coal” like this before an election.