Kentucky's GOP gubernatorial primary candidates: James Comer, Hal Heiner and Matt Bevin
Kentucky’s GOP gubernatorial primary candidates: James Comer, Hal Heiner and Matt Bevin

The Republican polling firm Remington Research Group released the first public survey of Kentucky’s crowded GOP gubernatorial primary since Tuesday’s filing deadline, and it shows the race is a virtual dead heat among the three major candidates.

The poll, conducted Tuesday and Wednesday with more than 1,000 likely Republican primary voters, found James Comer in the lead with 22 percent, Matt Bevin in second with 19 percent, and Hal Heiner in third with 18 percent. Former Kentucky Supreme Court Justice Will T. Scott finished well below the pack with 5 percent.

“A good old-fashioned Kentucky horse race is developing in the Republican primary for Governor,” says Titus Bond of Remington. “Three of the four candidates are within the margin of error. Looking at the data, this race is definitely a toss-up.”

Bond tells Insider Louisville the poll was conducted independently and not commissioned by any of the Republican candidates or any political committees.

The Remington poll showed that while the primary is less than four months away, a majority of Republican voters have no opinion on any of the candidates.

Comer, Kentucky’s agriculture commissioner, received a favorable rating from 31 percent of respondents and an unfavorable rating from 9 percent. Thirty percent of respondents had a favorable opinion of Bevin, though 17 percent had an unfavorable opinion — the highest percentage among the GOP candidates, and likely a result of the brusing primary he ran last year against Sen. Mitch McConnell. Heiner, a Louisville businessman and former Metro Council member, had favorables virtually identical to Comer, at 33 and 10 percent, respectively.

On the Democratic side, Attorney General Jack Conway only faces a longshot challenger in perennial candidate Geoff Young of Lexington. Former U.S. Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes endorsed him today via a press release. Grimes, who was rumored to be entertaining a bid for governor, announced last week she would run for re-election as secretary of state rather than challenge Conway for the Democratic nomination.

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Joe Sonka
Joe Sonka is a staff writer at Insider Louisville focusing on government, politics, education and public safety. He is a former news editor and staff writer at LEO Weekly and has also freelanced for The Nation and ThinkProgress. He has won first place awards from the Louisville Metro chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists in the categories of Health Reporting, Enterprise Reporting, Government/Politics, Minority/Women’s Affairs Reporting, Continuing Coverage and Best Blog. Email him at [email protected]