The rain and Moonaritas poured as Republican candidates talked with constituents about their most pressing issues in state government Saturday evening during the Christian County Republican Party Spring Fling at Casey Jones Distillery.

Along with Gov. Matt Bevin, a host of other primary election day hopefuls took the microphone to share their platforms with the crowd.

Bevin said if he's re-elected Tuesday, he will continue to focus on the pension issue and plans to call a special session once he hears about a new bill that might offer some relief to quasi-governmental agencies before the upcoming fiscal year.

Bevin said issues in the previous bill he vetoed have been fixed, and he expects this one to offer some relief before pension payments kick in July 1.

Bevin will face Rep. Robert Goforth, Ike Lawrence and William Woods for governor on the Republican ballot.

Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles praised western Kentucky farmers

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for being top producers in wheat and tobacco.

"You are no. 1 in so many different categories, and it's important for you to have an ag commissioner that cares about that," Quarles said.

He also celebrated Kentucky farmers for leading the charge on hemp research and production.

"I was proud to be there when (President Donald) Trump signed the 2018 Farm Bill," the commissioner said. "Hemp gives Kentucky the chance to be no. 1 in something instead of last. We really realize the economic impact of this crop."

Quarles faces Bill Polyniak in the upcoming primary.

Shortly after, Quarles passed the mic to "possibly the funniest man on Capitol Hill," state auditor Mike Harmon, who doesn't have an opponent in the upcoming primary.

"I'm just traveling the state like (treasurer) Allison Ball," Harmon quipped. He went on to tell a story of a time he got caught in a mudslide in Pike County while campaigning.

"I got out the car and lost my shoes," he said, laughing. "So, I spent the whole night with full suit, tie and no shoes."

Harmon got on to more serious matters, stating that in his first term as auditor, his office has done 600 audits per year, finding mismanagement of funds but also that the state is in 54.6 billion in debt.

"Of that, 80% is the unfunded pension liability," he said. "If you divide that, it's $12,300 of every man, woman and child."

State treasurer Ball also took the stage to share some numbers of her own, noting that she won't face a challenger next week either.

Of her accomplishments, Ball said her office has stopped the state from spending out of pension dollars, caught a cyber security fraud attempt of $5.3 million and returned $75 million of unclaimed property to citizens.

"I am also the first (Kentucky) constitutional officer to give birth while in office," she said, noting that her son, Levi, is now 10 months old. "We're the party of women and men."

Once the round of campaign speeches ended, a live band took to the stage to keep the party going.

Reach Zirconia Alleyne at 270-887-3243 or zalleyne@kentuckynewera.com.

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