Politics

The Extreme Positions Of Kentucky’s New Tea Party Governor

CREDIT: AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley

Governor-Elect Matt Bevin (R-KY) on Tuesday

In a result that contradicted most polling, Republican Matt Bevin was easily elected the next governor of Kentucky on Tuesday, besting Attorney General Jack Conway (D) by a 52.5 percent to 43.8 percent margin (with about 30 percent voter turnout). In doing so, Bluegrass State voters have elected a Tea Party millionaire who has vowed to dismantle Obamacare’s undeniable success story.

Bevin, who mounted an unsuccessful primary challenge last year to Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell, ran this time with the endorsement and financial support of the Senate Republican Leader.

Here’s a rundown of some of Bevin’s extreme stances that could play a key role in his governorship:

  • He strongly opposes LGBT rights, warning that same-sex marriage could lead to parents marrying their children. After the Supreme Court’s Obergefell ruling, he proposed changing Kentucky’s marriage laws to get government “out of the marriage business altogether,” to spare anti-LGBT clerks like Kim Davis from having to certify same-sex unions.
  • He strongly opposes labor protections and wants to enact a so-called “right to work” law to destroy collective bargaining. He wants to eliminate all prevailing wage requirements for state contracts, making it easier for the state to pay people less. He even has called the federal minimum wage “unconstitutional.”
  • He supports creating a system of vouchers to use public money to pay for private schools. Kentucky’s state constitution explicitly prohibits tax dollars going to “any church, sectarian or denominational school.”
  • He is a strong gun advocate, arguing that no gun laws could prevent attacks like the Roanoke shooting because “evil exists in the world, sadly. There is evil and we will never be able to put that in a box, we just won’t.” Instead, he suggested, more people with concealed weapons can stop mass shootings.
  • He has a radical view of the 10th Amendment, believing that he as governor can simply disregard the Environmental Protection Agency. He has advocated telling the federal government to “pound sand,” rather than complying with regulations on coal-fired power plants.

But perhaps Bevin’s most passionate priority in both of his 2014 and 2015 campaigns was to destroy the Affordable Care Act. “Washington politicians say they oppose Obamacare, but they continue to vote for spending bills that fund it,” Bevin wrote on his 2014 Senate campaign website. “This has to stop. Matt will not vote for any spending bills that fund Obamacare. None.” This time around, he promised that if elected he would “bring relief from Obamacare to the taxpayers of Kentucky.”

Though experts called the proposals, “in a word, stupid,” Bevin pledged to use his executive authority to destroy Kentucky’s popular state health insurance exchange, known as Kynect. “As governor, I would close the Kynect state exchange and facilitate the transition of enrollees into the federal health care exchange,” Bevin pledged. “Closing Kynect would begin to free Kentucky from this financially ill-advised program and leave Obamacare management in the hands of the federal government.”

Moreover, Bevin has also promised to cancel Kentucky’s participation in Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion, which would mean hundreds of thousands of Kentucky residents who cannot afford health insurance but wouldn’t otherwise qualify for the Medicaid program will lose their care. “It terrifies me,” outgoing Gov. Steve Beshear (D) told ThinkProgress in September. “There’s over 300,000 [Kentuckians that are on expanded Medicaid], and Matt Bevin is just going to take it from every single one of them — just because he doesn’t like the fact that President Obama was the one that got it passed.” Toward the end of the campaign, he appeared to hedge on this promise, saying that while Kentucky cannot afford to pay the state’s portion of the expansion, he will seek a waiver to reconfigure the program so no one is “kicked to the curb.”

Thanks to Kentucky’s executive power, Bevin can eliminate both with a stroke of the pen. And on December 8, when Bevin becomes governor, he may well do so.