Matt Bevin, the Republican vying to knock off Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnellMitch McConnellSenate seeks deal on Trump nominees States sue to block last-minute Obama environmental rule GOP senators introducing ObamaCare replacement Monday MORE (Ky.) in a primary, suggested Wednesday that legalizing same-sex marriages could lead to marriages between a parent and child.
Bevin, a businessman who has criticized McConnell as a Washington insider lacking conservative bona fides, said the problem with gay marriage is that it changes the definition of marriage.
"Where do you draw the line?"
The comments were first noted by Right Wing Watch.
Bevin's campaign spokeswoman Rachel Semmel pushed back on reports on Bevin's comments, arguing in an email to suggest Bevin drew a connection between same-sex marriage and marriage between a child and a parent was a "gross misrepresentation of what Matt said."
"He sees no comparison between gay marriage and incest. He was discussing the implications of the legal rights related to this issue such as hospital visitations and benefits. To imply otherwise is ridiculous," she said.
While the remarks are unlikely to hurt Bevin's chances of winning the Republican primary, they could hurt him in a general election. Several Republican candidates in recent years have lost winnable races for the Senate, with the defeats blamed on controversial remarks on social issues.
Gay marriage has become a bit of a flashpoint in the Kentucky race after a U.S. district judge ruled Kentucky must recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states.
Bevin said he was “deeply disappointed” about the decision, and tied it to McConnell, hammering the senator for recommending that John G. Heybern II serve on the federal bench.
Conservatives believe McConnell is vulnerable, and Bevin has focused on social issues that typically appeal to the conservative base.
Still, McConnell is favored in his primary, and expected to face Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes in the general.
—This piece was updated at 8:20 p.m. to reflect comment from Bevin's campaign.