The Republican candidate who has his sights on a primary victory over longtime U.S. senator Mitch McConnell visited Paducah to discuss his perspective, values and beliefs.
Matt Bevin, a small-business owner who lives in Louisville, met and spoke to supporters Sunday afternoon during a campaign rally at a residence on Lovelaceville Road.
Bevin will challenge Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., a five-term incumbent, in the May 20 primary. He emphasized his commitment to the entire state with more than 45,000 miles traveled and more than 1,000 Kentuckians met, in nine months on the campaign trail.
"I'm keeping my foot on the gas," he said. "People need to be heard and the only way to do that is to meet them in person."
He pointed to several key elements that inform his philosophies including a strong Christian faith, raising a family of nine with wife Glenna Bevin in Kentucky, his experience serving in active duty as an artillery officer in the U.S. Army and as a job creator with ownerships stakes in more than 10 small businesses. Bevin called his journey from near poverty through education and hard work as living the American Dream.
He described an upbringing in rural northern New Hampshire, living below the poverty line, to college at Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Va., to success and financial stability in the private sector.
Bevin said recent job losses across the state at companies such as Toyota and Fruit of the Loom serve as an example of the overarching employment issues statewide impacting residents and communities.
"We have to remove the burden from people who have that entrepreneurial spirit," he said. "We are suffocating, and restricting rather than creating jobs."
Bevin alleged that McConnell's long tenure has resulted in an ambivalent, weariness that has affected his decision making. He also accused the senator of swaying away from the conservative values he endorses.
"Think about the path we are going on, if it's not the right one, then we have to do something about it," he said. "Someone had to step up, it's not what I want to do, it's what I'm willing to do."
Bevin spoke about several key elements of his platform including small government limited to constitutional values, a pro-life philosophy, a belief in second amendment rights, federal term limits, a permanent ban on earmarks, abolishing pensions for elected federal officials and gradually lowering the corporate tax rate. He also vowed not to pass any new taxes and to secure the borders without passing any new immigration laws.
"I'm not afraid to stand up on principal and take the unpopular path," he said. "The task at hand is to win the primary and then the general election and keep the seat in conservative hands."
Host David Keele pointed to the value of the fresh passionate perspective Bevin would bring to Washington.
"He really does care," he said. "Matt is a businessman and he knows how important jobs are to Kentucky."
Recent polls, including one done by Gravis Marketing about two weeks ago, show Bevin trailing McConnell by double digits and up to 17 points. The Republican winner will face the winner of the Democratic primary, most likely to be current Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, during the November general election.
Contact Kathleen Fox, a Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8651 or follow @kathleendfox on Twitter.