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In Covington, Beshear Gets Support from FOP, Opposes Tolls

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andy Beshear appeared in Covington and Newport on Friday.

During an event at the Radisson Hotel in Covington, the attorney general, which is the state's top law enforcement position, was endorsed again by the Fraternal Order of Police.

The police union's members voted in September to endorse Beshear, as well as Democratic Secretary of State candidate Heather French Henry, who also attended the event at the Radisson where the FOP was hosting its statewide meeting.

"This is not a matter of left or right, Republican or Democrat," said Drew Fox, the FOP's governmental affairs chairman. "We're police officers. We're finders of fact and this race is very important to our livelihood, our profession, and keeping this Commonwealth safe."

Fox said the vote to endorse Beshear by the FOP members was "overwhelming". 

He also took exception with some of the campaign ads being aired by Republican incumbent Governor Matt Bevin, who is attempting to attach Beshear to the concept of "sanctuary cities", municipalities that limit their cooperation with federal law enforcement agencies, particularly in the area of illegal immigration.

"There are no sanctuary cities in this state," Fox said. "This race has become something of a national level (race) and to us, we don't care about the national politics in this race. It's about what's right in Kentucky."

Police officers, like firefighters and teachers, whose unions have also endorsed Beshear, were angered in recent years by Bevin's attempts at pension reform. One piece of legislation adopted by the General Assembly, known as the "sewer bill" because of its addition to unrelated legislation that was drawn up previously, was adopted and signed by Bevin. But Beshear and public employee unions sued and won a unanimous decision in the state Supreme Court to overturn it.

"I couldn't be more honored and more pleased, but I also feel a deep mission towards those that would put their own security, their own safety on the line to protect my children and everyone else's children across this Commonwealth," Beshear said.

He said that his office's successes have been alongside law enforcement agencies, and said during his term, the number of child predators taken off the streets has tripled.

"I believe we have worked together to make this state more safe," Beshear said. "I joined with the FOP in or lawsuit to protect their pensions. I believe a pension is a promise.

"We do not pay law enforcement nearly enough but they rely on our promise to have a secure pension at the end of their service and that's a promise that I was going to keep, but our legislature and our governor tried to illegally cut the pension of every law enforcement officer and public servant across our Commonwealth."

Beshear said that he would bolster pensions through new revenue, and has cited expanded casino gambling as one option.

Meanwhile, Beshear was clearer in his opposition to using tolls to finance the Brent Spence Bridge corridor project. At a debate Tuesday night at Northern Kentucky University, Bevin said there was "no way around" the use of tolls to fund the project, a clearly stated position that contradicted his position during his 2015 campaign and also legislation that he signed into law that specifically banned the use of tolls for any bridge project that connects Kentucky to Ohio. 

Bevin's remarks angered even some of his most ardent backers in Northern Kentucky, a region that has hotly debated the bridge project and its financing proposals for nearly a decade.

On Tuesday, at the NKU debate, Beshear said simply that he would engage with the Northern Kentucky community but did not come out and say he would oppose tolls.

On Friday, at the Radisson, he did.

"It's important to note the governor has broken a promise that he made very clearly and even signed a bill into law saying there would be no tolls and is now for them," Beshear said. "I believe a governor has to lead especially by consensus when there is a region that would be impacted by something like tolls. I believe I know where that consensus is in Northern Kentucky and it's because of that I will oppose tolls on this project."

Written by Michael Monks, editor & publisher