Politics

With the Kentucky governor’s race a month away and low voter turnout likely, Republicans are trying to gin up support.

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, and U.S. Rep. Andy Barr, R-Lexington, spoke at a rally in Frankfort on Saturday to throw their support behind gubernatorial candidate Matt Bevin.

“This is the year we are going to win,” Paul told a small crowd near Kentucky State University’s campus. “We are going to win big. Matt Bevin is leading the charge, and I am here today to endorse my friend, Matt Bevin, for governor.”

There was also some awkwardness to smooth over.

Last week, Bevin told Kentucky Sports Radio host Matt Jones that he supported candidate Ben Carson over Paul for the Republican presidential nomination. It was the same day Paul’s office had announced he would be headlining the event supporting Bevin.

On Saturday, Bevin prefaced his speech to supporters by saying he thinks Paul would be “an extraordinary president.”

Afterward, though, Paul told reporters that whether Bevin supported him for the nation’s highest office was “immaterial.”

“It’s also something I understand,” Paul said. “I mean, there are going to be people I know well that do not support me for the presidency but support me for the Senate. And so you have got to understand that. If you don’t, it’s sort of a minor thing.”

Most of the rally was aimed at getting supporters to pitch in this election.

Recent polling shows the race between Bevin and Democratic candidate Jack Conway is still pretty much a toss-up. Throughout it, Conway has maintained a slight edge in statewide polls.

“You know, we are only about one month away from what could be one of the most critical gubernatorial elections in Kentucky history,” Barr said.

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Bevin told attendees he needed more people working now to get voters to the polls next month.

“We need you to go out and be our hands and feet — to be out there on the ground. Consider yourselves officially deputized by every person on this ticket,” Bevin said.

Paul said after the rally that voter turnout would determine whether Republicans could sweep all the state offices during next month’s election depends on turnout. The most recent Bluegrass Poll showed tight races down the ballot.

Political experts in the state are expecting low voter turnout this year. During the May primary, only 12.5 percent of registered voters in Kentucky made it to the polls.