Republican Matt Bevin jumped into Kentucky’s biggest political campaign for the second straight year, joining the crowded field of GOP candidates vying to wrest the governorship away from Democrats.
Hoping to capitalize on name recognition from his failed 2014 primary challenge against now-Senate Majority Leader Mitch Mc- Connell, Bevin was the final entry into a four-way GOP gubernatorial primary.
Bevin, a Louisville businessman, drew slightly more than one-third of the vote as a political newcomer running against McConnell, who went on to win a sixth term in November.
Bevin introduced Jenean Hampton, a tea party enthusiast, as his running mate Tuesday — the last day for candidates to file for this year’s slate of statewide elections. Hampton, of Bowling Green, faced her own uphill campaign last year, losing to former state House Speaker Jody Richards in a legislative race.
Bevin, who has drawn tea party support, said Hampton brings “a wealth of experience” to the ticket from the private and nonprofit sectors. Both also served as military officers.
Bevin didn’t immediately delve into issues but sounded themes reminiscent of his Senate campaign.
“We are fiscally responsible … and we are individuals who believe that there is a better, more efficient way to manage government,” Bevin told reporters at the Capitol.
Hampton said she was honored to be on the ticket.
“I’m very excited at the prospect of helping Kentucky move forward and be truly prosperous,” she said.
Bevin called it a “very historic moment” as Hampton, who is black, stood at his side as they filed as a slate. Currently, no African American holds a statewide-elected office in Kentucky.
Bevin said the GOP gubernatorial primary will be a “four-month sprint” to the May 19 primary election.
The other Republicans running for governor are state Agriculture Commissioner James Comer, former Louisville councilman Hal Heiner and former Kentucky Supreme Court Justice Will T. Scott.