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KY Republicans want Jefferson Davis statue removed, Conway unsure

Bevin wants Jefferson Davis statue removed from Capitol, Conway unsure
Published: Jun. 23, 2015 at 5:24 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 7, 2015 at 5:53 PM EDT
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Jack Conway (Source: WAVE 3 News)
Jack Conway (Source: WAVE 3 News)
The Jefferson Davis statue in the Rotunda of the Kentucky State Capitol. (Source: WAVE 3 News...
The Jefferson Davis statue in the Rotunda of the Kentucky State Capitol. (Source: WAVE 3 News Archives)

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Four key Kentucky Republicans called for removing the Jefferson Davis statue from the state Capitol rotunda, while Democratic candidate for governor Jack Conway said he'd have to give the issue more thought.

Conway's Republican opponent, Matt Bevin, joined Sen. Mitch McConnell and the top Republicans in Kentucky's House and Senate to call for relocating the statue. The rotunda is a prominent stop on tours of the building.

"It is important never to forget our history, but parts of our history are more appropriately displayed in museums, not on government property," Bevin said in an email that began a series of statements from politicians about the statue's future.

Last week's shooting at a South Carolina church, which left nine people dead, reignited a controversy over Davis, the president of the confederacy and a native Kentuckian.

Bevin's opponent, Attorney General Jack Conway, said he didn't yet have a position on the statue's removal.

"I'd have to chew on that one a little bit. It's an important part of our history," Conway told reporters during a Monday news conference. "I certainly think the (Confederate) flags ought to come down over South Carolina and Mississippi. Anything that a certain number of our people find offensive, I'd be willing to talk about."

The statue has been in place since 1936, when the state legislature appropriated money for it. A spokeswoman for Gov. Steve Beshear said administration officials were checking into who had oversight into the five statues in the rotunda.

The four monuments depict President Abraham Lincoln, frontiersman Henry Clay, former Vice President Alben Barkley and surgeon Ephraim McDowell.

Davis was born in Kentucky before his family settled in Mississippi when he was still a young child. Later, he became the only president of the Confederate States of America.

McConnell told reporters in Washington that it was appropriate to re-think the prominence of Davis's statue.

"Maybe a better place for that would be the Kentucky History Museum, which is also in the state Capitol," McConnell said.

House Minority Leader Jeff Hoover called on Beshear to issue an executive order moving the statue to the Kentucky History Museum. Senate President Robert Stivers also said it should be removed.

"You have to wonder why we have that in the rotunda," Stivers said.

In December, a former state official called for the replacement of Davis with a statue of Muhammad Ali. Beshear said at the time he didn't think the statues "should be an issue."

House Speaker Greg Stumbo, a Democrat, had no comment on the matter, a spokesman for Stumbo said.

Bevin and Conway said they supported the removal of the Confederate flag from the grounds of the South Carolina State House.

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Separately, Bevin announced he and running mate Jenean Hampton will donate $500 to the Warren County NAACP after it was revealed a white supremacist donated to a previous Bevin campaign.

reported that white supremacist Earl Holt gave

$500

to Bevin's U.S. Senate campaign in 2013, citing campaign finance

. Dylann Roof, who's charged with killing nine people in a Charleston, South Carolina church last week, cited Holt in his manifesto.

Bevin's running mate, Jenean Hampton of Bowling Green, will make a corresponding donation, said Ben Hartman, a spokesman for Bevin's campaign.

"While Matt's Senate campaign ended over a year ago and both the account and committee are now closed, Matt and Jenean will each be making a $500 contribution to the Warren County NAACP scholarship fund," Hartman said.

Hampton is African-American, which Bevin often notes on the campaign trail. Bevin and his wife, Glenna, adopted four of their nine children from Africa.

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