Local News

Candidate Filing Begins This Week

The filing period for candidates in next year’s elections begins Wednesday in Kentucky, and a near-record number of filings is expected.

Secretary of State’s spokesperson Les Fugate says his office has received an exceptionally high number of phone calls and letters from Kentuckians who are interested in running for office next year.

“On both sides of the political aisle, people seem to be more engaged, particularly with the issues that are going on in Washington currently,” he says. “The other big issue is the economy, and a lot of the races that are on the ballot this time are races that can hire individuals, and so there are a lot of jobs at stake for the person who wins.”

Fugate says the high interest is compounded by the fact that mid-term election years like 2006 and 2010 have more local elections and are typically busier years for filings than Presidential election years. But while Fugate expects thousands of filings, but he doesn’t think this year’s registrations will exceed the record set in 2006.

Depending on the office being sought, filings can be sent to the Secretary of State or the local county clerk through January 26.

Local News

Third Republican Enters Senate Race

A third Republican has entered the race for U.S. Senator Jim Bunning’s seat.

Todd County businessman Bill Johnson joins Bunning and retired engineer Roger Thoney as declared candidates in the 2010 GOP primary.

Kentucky Secretary of State Trey Grayson and Bowling Green optometrist Rand Paul have both formed exploratory committees for a possible race, but they say they won’t run unless Bunning drops out.

“I certainly invite them to join,” Johnson says. “They have their exploratory committees and they’re out raising funds but I would like to see them get in the race. Let’s see where they stand on the issues, let’s talk about the issues and let’s see who’s best able to represent the needs of Kentucky.”

Johnson says he understands their reluctance to face the two-term senator, but he decided last month not to wait for other opponents to enter the race.

“And I also thought the Senate seat was an important seat. It was one we have to keep as Republicans. I respect Senator Bunning a lot, but I think it is time for new leadership.”

Johnson says he needs to raise about $200 thousand by the end of the year to compete.

“I’m going to run a very fiscally conservative campaign,” he says. “What I have always thought to be very interesting is that many candidates will talk about fiscal conservatism, yet they will spend enormous sums of money trying to reach the office.”

State Senate President David Williams has also expressed interest in the primary.

On the Democratic side, Attorney General Jack Conway, Lieutenant Governor Daniel Mongiardo and former customs agent Darlene Fitzgerald Price are all in the race.

Blog Archive

Everyone Is Watching Bunning

When it comes to Kentucky Sen. Jim Bunning, everyone’s a critic. With the formation of Kentucky Secretary of State Trey Grayson’s exploratory committee, national media has started a “Bunning Campaign Death Watch” of sorts: outlets everywhere have cranked up the speculation on when Bunning will drop out of the race, even though the Senator says he has no plans to retire. Now, the snarky political blog Wonkette has weighed in. The editors are no fan of Ron Paul, and the story focuses on the possible candidacy of the Texas Congressman and former Republican Presidential Candidate’s son, Bowling Green eye doctor Rand Paul.

“…Kentucky Sen. Jim Bunning will make a fool of himself daily in the process of losing his Senate seat. And now the hilarity might start even sooner, because Ron Paul’s child, Rand (”The Son”), might primary Bunning. Rand Paul has the exact same views as his father, so it should take about two minutes of money supply babble before Bunning gets uncomfy…”

You can read it all (warning, explicit language) here.

Blog Archive

538 Looks At The KY Senate Race

Stats wizard Nate Silver at has weighed in on Senator Jim Bunning’s chances for re-election now that Secretary of State Trey Grayson has formed an exploratory committee. From Silver:

Kentucky, while being a somewhat conservative state, is also still a rather Democratic state, at least in terms of is voters’ declared party preferences. Gallup gives Democrats a 13-point party identification advantage in Kentucky (counting “leaners”), which places it roughly in the middle of the pack nationally. No, Kentucky is not going to vote for certain types of Democrats — particularly liberal, northern Democrats named “Barack Obama” who gave the state the cold shoulder. But it elects plenty of moderate-to-conservative Democrats to statewide and national offices, like its Governor Steve Beshear, as well as [Lt. Governor] Mongiardo, [Attorney General] Conway and [Congressman] Chandler. Democrats also have a 65-35 advantage in the Kentucky State House, although Republicans control the State Senate.

Do you think Silver’s analysis holds up? Will Conway or Mongiardo’s party affiliation help them beat Grayson if Bunning drops out, or does Grayson appeal to the so-called leaners? Do you vote along party lines for state and local elections?

In-Depth News Local News WFPL News Department Podcast

Others Prepare To Run In Bunning's Stead

After Bruce Lunsford’s unsuccessful attempt to unseat Republican U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell last November, Kentucky Democrats began focusing on how they could win the commonwealth’s other Senate seat, held by the GOP’s Jim Bunning.

Bunning narrowly defeated Dan Mongiardo in 2004, and he’s up for re-election next year. And this time around, questions about Bunning’s political future are being raised within his own party.

Jim Bunning says he will seek a third term next year.

“I’m going to run,” he says.

Bunning conducted a poll in February to gauge support for his re-election bid…but the sometimes irascible 77 year old senator declined recently to disclose the results.

“Let’s say that I did the polling,” said Bunning.
“What does that mean?
“That means it’s none of your G**damn business.”

Those comments are from conference calls with reporters in February and March. Bunning later apologized for the profanity.

Speculation over Bunning’s political future intensified at the beginning of the year, when he reported having relatively little campaign cash on hand. He said that’s because he delayed fundraising to help GOP candidates in the 2008 elections.

Meanwhile, Senator Mitch McConnell told the National Press Club in January he wasn’t sure if his Kentucky counterpart would seek a third term, prompting this response from Bunning in another conference call.

“He had a lapse of memory or something when he was speaking to the press club when he said that he didn’t know my intentions were,” said Bunning. “He knew very well what my intentions were.”

“When they treat Bunning’s candidacy as a possibility and he’s treating it as a reality, then it’s clear they don’t want him to run,” says longtime political writer and the head of the Institute for Rural Journalism at the University of Kentucky Al Cross.”I think that they have looked at his propensity to commit gaffes, his narrow re-election last time, in a year when George Bush was carrying this state by 15 points and his lack of fundraising up to this point, and probably some poll numbers, and concluding that he is going to have a hard time holding the seat for the Republican party which desperately needs every seat it can get in the U.S. Senate.”

Two Republicans say they’re ready to jump into the race only if Bunning decides to retire. One of them is Secretary of State Trey Grayson.

“Jim Bunning is a friend and a mentor,” says Grayson. “He is running for re-election and as long as he’s running for re-election, I don’t have any plans to run against him in a primary.”

And then there’s Bowling Green doctor Rand Paul, who is the son of former presidential candidate Ron Paul.

“My goal is to tell everyone within earshot I will run if Senator Bunning won’t and that I want to represent the conservative wing of the party,” says Paul.

Paul and Grayson both say they’re close to Bunning politically, especially when it comes to economic policy–which they call a key to victory in 2010. Neither has officially begun raising money or campaigning, but Paul says he’ll use the same grassroots efforts that powered his father’s presidential bid, while Grayson says he can rely on his reputation as a Republican up-and-comer.

“Frankly, everywhere I go people ask me what I’m going to run for next,” says Grayson. “They encourage me to run for other offices because the know I’m term-limited as Secretary of State for 2011.”

“Well the person who’s not going to wait on Bunning is David Williams,” says Al Cross. He’s talking about Kentucky Senate President David Williams, who has expressed interest in the seat.

“I expect Williams will be in the race next month, after Bunning reports a poor fundraising performance in the first quarter,” says Cross.

Williams hasn’t officially declared his candidacy, and calls to his office on the matter weren’t returned. Williams met last month with officials from the National Republican Senatorial Committee, prompting Bunning to say he would sue the NRSC if it recruited an opponent to run against him. The committee’s chairman, Senator John Cornyn of Texas, says it supports Bunning. Cornyn told the Courier-Journal the meeting with Williams was just a courtesy visit.

As Kentucky Democrats watch it all unfold, they’re positioning for their own primary. Lt. Governor Dan Mongiardo has formally announced he’ll run again. Attorney General Jack Conway has said he’s considering the race, as is Congressman Ben Chandler.