Kentucky Republican senatorial candidate Matt Bevin talks with voters at the Fountain Run BBQ Festival while campaigning for the Republican primary May 17, 2014 in Fountain Run, Ky.
Win McNamee/Getty

The fight for the ‘disaster governor’ label

Late last week, with forecasts projecting major snowfall for much of the East, Mid-Atlantic, and even parts of the South, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) said he just wasn’t prepared to leave the campaign trail. “I’m not driving a plow truck, OK?” he told reporters in New Hampshire, where he’s spent most of his time recently.
That posture quickly become unsustainable and Christie returned home on Friday to oversee the state’s response to the blizzard. As of yesterday, the Garden State Republican was quite pleased with himself, telling a New Hampshire audience, “[The reason] I knew what I was doing is because I’ve done it a lot of times before…. I am clearly the disaster governor.”
Others in New Jersey were far less impressed. I’m not even sure why someone would want “the disaster governor” label in the first place.
Meanwhile, seven hundred miles away, Kentucky was confronted with the same storm and was hit with more than 15 inches of snow. The Lexington Herald-Leader reported that the Bluegrass State’s Republican governor took the appropriate steps at first, and then left town soon after.
Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin spoke at a Republican presidential forum in New Hampshire Saturday afternoon, less than 24 hours after declaring a state of emergency and activating the Kentucky National Guard to help residents stranded by a massive snowstorm.
Bevin, who grew up in the Granite State, was the guest speaker at a Saturday luncheon during the New Hampshire GOP’s First-in-the-Nation town hall in Nashua, N.H. Boston Globe reporter James Pindell posted a picture on Instagram of Bevin speaking at the luncheon, which cost $65 to attend, according to the event’s website.
On Saturday morning, Bevin tweeted pictures of himself in front of a salt truck and alongside state highway workers. What he neglected to mention was that he headed to the airport soon after publishing the message.
The Louisville Courier-Journal reported that Bevin administration officials defended his decision to leave Kentucky while it was under a state of emergency, insisting the governor was “directly involved in the management of this snow storm,” and his role was less significant by Saturday afternoon.
Bevin, incidentally, flew to New Hampshire on a state-owned plane, but the governor intends to reimburse Kentucky for the trip.
Aside from the obvious, it’s worth noting that when governors go to New Hampshire to headline fundraisers, it often means they’re thinking about raising their visibility ahead of a national campaign. Bevin’s entire career in public office has only lasted a couple of months; is he already eyeing some kind of promotion?