With his wife by his side, Republican candidate for governor James Comer flatly denied abusing his college girlfriend on Tuesday after she outlined several accusations in a letter to a newspaper and threatened to derail his campaign two weeks before Election Day.
In a letter to The Courier Journal of Louisville, Marilyn Thomas said Comer hit her and drove her to a medical clinic to receive an abortion.
“Did Jamie Comer ever hit me? Yes,” Thomas wrote in a four-page letter, excerpts of which were published. She said her relationship with Comer was “toxic, abusive and caused me a lot of suffering. His controlling and aggressive personality alienated me from most of my family and friends at the time.”
Attempts to reach Thomas were unsuccessful. Her letter indicated she would have nothing else to say on the matter.
Comer acknowledged dating Thomas after they met while serving as officers in Future Farmers of America. But he denied abusing her, saying the crime of domestic violence “sickens me.”
“Everyone who knows me understands that the charges are completely incompatible with everything I stand for, everything that I am,” Comer said. “I flatly deny the allegations that we had an abusive relationship. Those allegations are untrue.”
He said the last time he saw Thomas was in 2001, when he was unmarried and attending an FFA convention in Lexington. He said the two hugged on stage and agreed to meet in New York City a few weeks later. There, Thomas gave Comer a signed copy of former U.S. Sen. Lowell Weicker’s book “Maverick,” which Weicker had personally inscribed to him.
“This was 10 years after we had ended our relationship. Marilyn felt comfortable seeking me out for a visit and to deliver me a very kind gift,” Comer said. “… That visit and kind gesture took place much closer to the time when we were dating than today.”
Comer’s wife, TJ, stood beside him during the news conference, telling reporters later that Comer had never abused her and would never abuse anyone. She noted that she and Comer both grew up in the same small town.
“If you know anything about small towns, I knew everything about Jamie Comer and I still do,” she said. “I married him almost 12 years ago and I would do the same thing today.”
The allegations have been simmering for months, fueled by Lexington-based blogger Michael Adams and his posts on social media and other formats. Last week, Republican candidate Hal Heiner publicly apologized to the Comer campaign after emails surfaced in the Lexington Herald-Leader that showed Scott Crosbie, the husband of Heiner’s running mate KC Crosbie, had exchanged emails with Adams.
Tuesday, Comer continued to blame the Heiner campaign and his unnamed “political rivals” for trying to discredit him. He said he could not explain why Thomas would suddenly make these allegations.
Comer vowed to stay in the race while threatening legal action against Adams, the Courier-Journal and even Thomas herself.
“I think today is a defining moment in the campaign. I’ve been honest with the people, as I have been throughout my career in public service,” Comer said. “I just hope that this election is about issues and achievements and a vision for Kentucky and who can move this state forward.”