Emails from the campaign machinery rolled off the assembly line mere minutes after Thursday's forum between Gov. Matt Bevin and Attorney General Andy Beshear concluded in Paducah.

In its coverage, the Associated Press described the hour-long forum hosted by the Paducah Chamber of Commerce as a "hard-hitting debate that exposed (Bevin and Beshear's) mutual rancor."

While the editorial board doesn't strictly agree with our AP colleagues' characterization of the Bevin-Beshear exchanges Thursday, there's clearly animus between the two bitter rivals throughout a long history. Nonetheless, they were mostly civil before 530 people at the Julian Carroll Convention Center.

The postgame emails, however, were a return to form, the war of words flying hard and fast in hopes of winning voters ahead of the Nov. 5 election.

"Beshear delivers clear victory in first debate against Bevin," the Democratic challenger's campaign stated in a news release that arrived at The Sun seconds ahead of one from Bevin's campaign.

"While Matt Bevin tried to run from his disastrous record of bullying teachers, ripping away health care and tearing down public education, Andy Beshear stood out by laying out his clear vision to lift up all Kentucky families."

The release concluded, "This race is about right vs. wrong, and today made it even more clear Andy Beshear is the right choice for working families."

In his release, Bevin promoted his economic experience and record as governor and "called out Andy Beshear on Purdue Pharma."

"While 'Absent' Andy Beshear did appear at today's forum, he continued to dodge questions on his liberal economic agenda and his involvement in the Purdue Pharma case that saw Kentucky receive a small fraction of what other states received for the damage they inflicted on Kentuckians," the email states.

"'Absent' Andy Beshear showed up for once (at the forum), but he still won't answer the tough questions. How much money did he make off of the paltry Purdue Pharma settlement his law firm negotiated when it sold out Kentucky? Kentuckians deserve to know."

The editorial board, probably like many others, expected fireworks similar in tone to the emails while the candidates were on stage Thursday, the first of five forums scheduled across the state. That they mostly behaved themselves and stuck to the questions posed by the media panel was a benefit to all Kentucky voters, especially those in attendance and watching the live stream online.

It was valuable and insightful to see the candidates in person and hear their ideas for Kentucky's future -- especially at a critical time when the commonwealth is dogged by the pension crisis -- expressed through significantly diverging personalities, presence, and philosophies.

The Paducah Chamber of Commerce is to be commended for hosting the forum. It was first-class. Thank you, Chamber leaders and staffers.

Audience members, either live or via the live stream, should also be praised. In September, the editorial board wrote that the gubernatorial forum represented an "opportunity and a responsibility for local residents."

"That is, not only are we obligated to be welcoming hosts, we should also be well-represented with participants," the opinion stated.

Paducah's level of participation, as Chamber President Sandra Wilson told The Sun, "shows that we show up as a community."

Let's hope Bevin and Beshear maintain similar decorum at the four remaining forums as they did in Paducah. Voters, and Kentucky overall, will be better for it.

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