Kentucky Republican Senate hopeful Matt Bevin, who is challenging Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in the state’s GOP primary, is under fire after video surfaced showing his appearance at a cockfighting rally last month.
Bevin issued a statement on Friday apologizing for his attending the event, where he also delivered a speech. His mea culpa came after nearly a month of controversy over the cockfighting clip. The controversy came to a head Friday when a local news report showed him after the event saying it was a “bad idea” to outlaw cockfighting.
For much of the past month, Bevin pleaded ignorance and said he was unaware the event was a pro-cockfighting rally. Bevin claimed he was the first speaker at the event and quickly left afterward. However, the video released Friday by local station WAVE 3 showed he was asked directly about cockfighting at the event — and that he was not, in fact, the first speaker.
“Criminalizing behaviour, if it’s part of the heritage of this state, is in my opinion a bad idea. A bad idea. I will not support it,” Bevin said on the video.
The McConnell campaign accused him of “pathologically lying” about his appearance at the event, saying it will “go down in history as one of the most disqualifying moments in Kentucky political history.”
Bevin sought to quell some of the backlash by releasing a statement of his own wherein he said he is not and has never been a supporter of cockfighting. His statement, however, did not address whether he was aware at the time he was appearing at a pro-cockfighting event.
“I am genuinely sorry that my attendance at an event which, other than my comments, appears to have primarily involved a discussion of cockfighting, has created concern on the part of many Kentucky voters. I understand that concern,” Bevin said. “I am not and have never been, a supporter of cockfighting or any other forms of animal cruelty.
Bevin went on to say he is “a strong supporter of states’ rights.”
“Regardless of any personal views on this issue, animal rights are not an enumerated power granted to the federal government under the Constitution. Such decisions should be left to each state to decide,” Bevin said.
With less than a month to go before the May 20 primary, Bevin’s campaign is still struggling to gain traction against McConnell — and the row over cockfighting could be another nail in the coffin. Earlier this week, Bevin’s chief spokesperson, Rachel Semmel, left the campaign.
A new poll from Gravis Marketing released Friday showed McConnell with a 17-point lead over Bevin among Republican primary voters.
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.