"I think this is one of the best Republican tickets that we've ever put forth."
Bill Turpen, chairman of the Pulaski County Republican Party, was not shy about promoting his party's candidates in the second round of election campaigning coming up now that the May Primaries have been decided.
And that's despite the fact that the GOP winner in the bid for the governor's office, incumbent Matt Bevin, did not win Turpen's own county.
"It's an interesting race," said Turpen of Tuesday night's affairs.
Both Republican and Democratic voters in Pulaski County had a variety of candidates to choose from in the Primary Election, and naturally, local party members had reactions to the outcomes, which saw Bevin and and Andy Beshear fall in this county to Robert Gofforth and Rocky Adkins, respectively, but take Kentucky overall.
In a county that backed Adkins as the Democrat nominee in the Kentucky gubernatorial race, the mood at the Pulaski Democratic Party Headquarters was disappointed yet still jovial.
Mary Ann Johnson co-chaired the local Adkins committee with Bruce Brown.
"You're always hoping for good things," Johnson said as Beshear took the lead over Adkins later in the evening. "But in politics, anything can happen and I'm not giving up the ship until the last votes counted."
Locally, Adkins had 40.46 percent of the vote with 823, over Beshear's 683 votes (33.58 percent), Adam Edelen's 505 (24.83 percent), and Geoff Young's 23 votes (1.13 percent).
Statewide, however, Adkins (31.93 percent) fell to Beshear 37.88), 125,970 votes to 149,438. Edelen got 27.92 percent with 110,159 votes.
Johnson was thrilled with the local result, thanking everyone who'd worked so hard for the Adkins team. Still, given the state results, she is prepared to support Beshear in the General Election this fall as he squares off with incumbent Bevin.
"Bevin is tough -- especially in this area because it is so heavily Republican," Johnson said. "It makes it hard for Democrats, but I do think Beshear statewide can beat Bevin come November."
Johnson pointed to reports that Bevin is the most unpopular governor in the United States, with one poll last month giving the Kentucky governor a 52-percent disapproval rating.
"If you can't beat a man who's that unpopular, you've got problems," Johnson said.
Dr. Rodney Casada, who chairs the Pulaski Democrat Party, stayed neutral through the primary but agreed with Johnson's assessment of Beshear's chances.
"We're happy with our candidate, and we're ready to go for the fall," Casada said of the new Democrat nominee. "Our goal is to beat Matt Bevin."
Bevin overcame a challenge -- perhaps a stiffer one than some might have expected -- from Goforth, the Kentucky State Representative from neighboring Laurel County, who has owned businesses here in Pulaski.
Goforth and running mate Michael Hogan actually edged out Bevin and ticket partner Ralph Alvarado in Pulaski County by a scant 90 votes -- 3,895 to 3,805, or 48.75 percent to 47.62 percent. Two other candidates were left in a heavy cloud of dust -- William Woods earned only 2.03 percent of the vote, and Ike Lawrence 1.60 percent.
Statewide, Goforth was by far the closest candidate to Bevin, taking numerous counties in eastern and southern Kentucky while Bevin did better in the central Bluegrass region, the major cities, and the west. Bevin had 136,060 votes statewide, for 52.36 percent, to 101,343 votes for Goforth, at 39 percent.
Despite being a controversial figure due to numerous comments he's made in the state's ongoing pension reform struggles regarding public school teachers, Bevin will be facing nemesis Beshear in the fall, and Turpen has strong confidence in the candidate that his party has put forth.
"I think the governor has taken on the problems of the state," said Turpen. "He could have kicked the can down the road (as far as addressing pension fund shortages) as they've often done, but he's taken on one of the chief problems to the state, and that's the pension problem that we've had.
"(Bevin has) said, 'We've got problems that has festered and developed for the last 20 to 30 years, thanks to (former governor Steve) Beshear and the like in there, and he's finally confronted it and taking it on," he added. "We wall ought to be grateful for that. We're getting to discuss it now."
As far as why Goforth overtook Bevin here in Pulaski -- an observer might have seen numerous Goforth signs around this area, compared to seemingly few Bevin ads -- Turpen chalked that up to his local appeal.
"His being from here and having had a business here, I see that as a relationship (with local voters)," said Turpen, though he added that it's difficult to predict voter motivations: "You never know what people will be thinking when they go to vote."
Turpen noted that he expects Goforth to "fully and completely support the Republican ticket" in November.
That includes Bevin, but it also includes GOP Secretary of State nominee Michael Adams, whom Turpen called "very knowledgable in election laws," Attorney General pick Daniel Cameron, "one fine young man," and Agriculture Commissioner incumbent Ryan Quarles, whom Turpen termed "outstanding."
But Bevin is the big name at the top of the ticket, and the one who has drawn and will continue to draw the most attention. Issues like the pension battle, "cultural issues," and disagreements on abortion will be "the big issues certainly" pitting Beshear and Bevin against one another, and Turpen believes it will be an election "based on the issues."
Where Bevin really stands out, according to Turpen, is in economic development -- "He is a jobs recruiter," said Turpen, "all the jobs in industry and manufacturing development that this governor has recruited to the state."
Added Turpen, "We've got a great program of past accomplishments to run on. The Republican party has nothing to be ashamed of."