Kentucky voters Tuesday will decide contested primary races for six, statewide constitutional offices. Kentucky Public Radio's Tony McVeigh assesses the crowded field of candidates.
Gov. Steve Beshear has no Democratic opposition on Tuesday, but three Republicans want to prevent Beshear from winning a second term in the fall. One is Louisville businessman and tea party favorite Phil Moffett.
“How’s the campaign going so far?” asked McVeigh.
“It’s going very well,” replied Moffett. “Our message is out there. It’s resonating. The people are falling in with us. And we’re getting that support.”
Senate President David Williams is the frontrunner, with strong poll numbers and lots of campaign cash. He’s not underestimating his primary opponents, but spends most of his time attacking Gov. Beshear.
“He has no ideas,” said Williams. “Everything’s OK. The pension system is OK. The tax system is OK. Everything’s OK. And the people of the Commonwealth of Kentucky know that things aren’t OK in the Commonwealth of Kentucky.”
Beshear counters he has kept government afloat in tough economic times, including balancing the budget eight times in the last three years. Jefferson County Clerk Bobbie Holsclaw, the third Republican in the race, has heard enough from both Williams and Beshear.
“David Williams blames Steve Beshear. Steve Beshear blames David Williams,” said Holsclaw. “And I’ve come to the conclusion, and what really put me over the edge is the fact, they’re both right. They’re both at fault. And I think it’s time for a change.”
Holsclaw’s running mate is Bill Vermillion of Caneyville. Agriculture Commissioner Richie Farmer is running with Sen. Williams and Phil Moffett’s running mate is Rep. Mike Harmon of Junction City.
Earlier this year, Republican Trey Grayson resigned as Secretary of State to take a job at Harvard University. Gov. Beshear appointed former Bowling Green Mayor Elaine Walker to the post and Walker’s seeking a full term. But first, she must defeat Alison Lundergan Grimes of Lexington in the Democratic primary.
“I’ve worked with the office of Secretary of State regularly and know how to make it work better,” said Grimes. “I think it’s time for a new generation to take the reins for fresh leadership, and energy and enthusiasm.”
Two Republicans are also in the race - Bill Johnson of Elkton and Hilda Legg of Somerset. Last November, Johnson was the first person to qualify to run for a constitutional office in Kentucky.
“I either will win this race or I will go back to the private sector,” said Johnson. “I’m not interested in being a perennial candidate. But I did have a passion for public service. I still do. And so, I feel a calling to public service. I feel a calling to defend the constitution.”
Johnson dropped out of last year’s U.S. Senate race, won by Republican Rand Paul.
In the State Auditor’s race, Democrat Adam Edelen has no primary opposition, but two Republicans are vying for the post. Rep. Addia Wuchner of Burlington faces John Kemper of Lexington. Kemper made an unsuccessful bid for Congress last year, but says he has no desire to be a career politician.
“If I come up here, I plan on taking this thing apart, finding out what works and what doesn’t work,” said Kemper. “And I probably won’t have many friends after I do that. But that’s OK, because I’m not looking to be re-elected.”
State Treasurer Todd Hollenbach has Democratic opposition from Steve Hamrick of Louisville. The winner faces Republican K.C. Crosbie of Lexington in the fall.
Five Democrats and two Republicans, including Rep. Jamie Comer of Tompkinsville, want to be your next Agriculture Commissioner.
“I’m a full-time farmer,” said Comer. “I’m a citizen-legislator. I’ve been a representative for ten years. But my background is agriculture. I have a pretty good size farming operation in Monroe County.”
The other Republican in the race is Rob Rothenburger of Shelbyville. The Democrats are Bob Farmer of Louisville, Stewart Gritton of Lawrenceburg, John Lackey of Richmond, David Williams of Glasgow and B.D. Wilson of Frankfort.
There is no primary in the race for Attorney General. Democratic incumbent Jack Conway meets Republican Todd P’Pool of Madisonville in November.