4:31pm

Wed May 11, 2011
Politics in the Commonwealth

Candidate Matches Strange Bedfellows

With less than a week until the primary election, Democratic secretary of state candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes has announced that Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway and Lt. Governor Daniel Mongiardo will serve as statewide co-chairs of her campaign.

Grimes is seeking the party’s nomination in a closely watched race against incumbent Secretary of State Elaine Walker, who was appointed by Governor Steve Beshear earlier this year to serve the final 11 months of former Secretary of State Trey Grayson’s term.

Grimes says she is honored the two rivals came together to support her candidacy and she believes it represents a united Democratic front heading into the May 17 primary.

“I think having Jack Conway and Daniel Mongiardo by my side demonstrates their confidence and belief that I’m the person that can help get that job done. That I’m the person that this state, that this party needs right now and I’m hopeful that will translate on Election Day to voters who are going into that voting booth,” she says.

In 2010, Conway and Mongiardo ran a hard fought primary race against each other in a bid for one of Kentucky’s U.S. Senate seats.

Conway won the primary by a razor-thin margin and the bitterness between the two ran over into the general election, which hurt the attorney general in the early stages of the general election against now-U.S. Sen. Rand Paul.

The Grimes campaign says the two have agreed to make appearances together across the state and will have specific roles to get out the vote.

During this campaign political observers have highlighted the ongoing rivalry between Beshear, who appointed Walker, and Grimes’ father, former state Democratic Party Chairman Jerry Lundergan, as the backdrop.

Beshear has downplayed the  feud, but almost every major Democratic elected official and state union has endorsed Grimes, who has outpaced Walker in fundraising by a 3-to-1 margin.

While Beshear has kept his appointee at arm’s length, Walker told cn|2 Pure Politics in March that the governor was helping her raise campaign money.

However, Grimes says Beshear is keeping out of the race.

“The governor made an appointment, he has not made an open, public endorsement in this race as much as my opponent would probably like that to be the case,” she says. “I think he is leaving this decision, this race, this primary to the voters of Kentucky.”

The Walker campaign was unavailable for comment.