LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Vanquished gubernatorial hopeful Adam Edelen is predicting that his primary campaign attacks will make Andy Beshear a tougher nominee in the Democrats' quest to unseat Kentucky's Republican governor in November.
Beshear and Edelen downplayed their bitter spring rivalry as they appeared together Wednesday at a Louisville coffee shop to show a united front against GOP Gov. Matt Bevin.
Beshear told reporters that he's already put aside their differences.
"This is one united team that knows this race is bigger than Adam Edelen, and it's bigger than me," Beshear said.
Beshear survived a series of bare-knuckled attacks from his rival and a deep-pocketed super PAC that backed Edelen to win the May primary. Edelen called politics a "tough business," but said Beshear is now in a stronger position "to take it to Matt Bevin" if the fall campaign becomes particularly nasty.
"Tough primaries make for tough candidates," Edelen, a former state auditor, told reporters. "And I don't think there's any question that Andy Beshear is a demonstrably better candidate today than he was in January."
Edelen finished third in the four-way Democratic primary for governor. Beshear recently campaigned with the second-place finisher, longtime state Rep. Rocky Adkins, in eastern Kentucky — Adkins' home region.
During the primary, Edelen slammed Beshear's private legal work for the Boy Scouts of America in a sexual abuse case years ago and tried to connect Beshear to campaign cash from the manufacturer of the powerful painkiller OxyContin during his successful run for attorney general in 2015.
Beshear has touted his efforts as attorney general to protect children from sexual predators. He also notes that as attorney general he has sued drug companies for their role in the opioid epidemic.
Edelen also slammed Beshear for a scandal involving his former top deputy in the AG's office — Tim Longmeyer.
Longmeyer was sent to prison for a kickback scheme that netted him more than $200,000. He previously worked in the administration of former Gov. Steve Beshear, who is Andy Beshear's father.
Federal authorities have said that neither Beshear had knowledge of Longmeyer's crimes.
But Bevin's campaign and outside Republican groups see those ads as fodder for what could be an avalanche of attacks against Beshear.
Bevin campaign manager Davis Paine said Wednesday that it was Edelen who, during the primary, questioned Beshear's vision for Kentucky's future and whether he would be able to lead the state's economic development efforts. The Republican governor has pointed to job growth and the state's low unemployment rate — along with his ties to President Donald Trump — in making his case for a second term.
Beshear, whose running mate is educator Jacqueline Coleman, stressed health care, education and economic growth during his coffee shop appearance Wednesday.
"Under a Beshear-Coleman administration, we're going to make sure that every single Kentuckian is covered under some form of health care, and we're going to reduce everybody's costs," he said.
He also pointed to the economic struggles across the state's Appalachian region.
New data released by the Appalachian Regional Commission show per capita annual income fell by more than $1,000 in several eastern Kentucky counties from 2016 to 2017, the most recent year made available by the ARC, the Lexington Herald-Leader reported.
"I'm committed to working with every entrepreneur out there, just like Adam Edelen, to create great, new jobs like his solar farm will in eastern Kentucky," Beshear said.
It was a reference to Edelen's lead role in developing a massive solar power project on a former Appalachian coal mine.