2015 Election

With Kentucky’s gubernatorial primary four months away, candidates are beginning to line up endorsements.

Kentucky’s AFL-CIO chapter officially endorsed Democratic candidate and Attorney General Jack Conway Tuesday. Republican candidate and Agriculture Commissioner James Comer has been endorsed by former Kentucky Senator Jim Bunning.

Another GOP candidate, former Louisville Council Member Hal Heiner, this week aired the first television ad of the 2015 election cycle.

The spot touts Heiner’s experience in private business and says he would fight against federal mandatessuch as Obamacare and the Common Core educational standards.

Former Kentucky Supreme Court Justice Will T. Scott is also running for the GOP gubernatorial nomination. Secretary of State and former Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes says she’s considering several options, including running for governor, attorney general , and a second term as Secretary of State.

WKU Public Radio

Democrat Jack Conway has officially filed to run for governor.  The Attorney General filed candidacy papers with the Secretary of State's office Monday morning.

Conway announced his candidacy several months ago and has raised more than$1.3 million. But today’s filing officially puts him on the ballot for the May 19 Democratic primary. 

Conway is the second person to file for Kentucky governor.  Former congressional candidate Geoff Young filed in December. It's unclear if other top Democrats will challenge Conway for the nomination. House Majority  Floor Leader Rocky Adkins is considering a run but has not made a decision.

Candidates have until Jan. 27 to file for the race. At least three Republicans have said they will run, but none has filed yet.

Jonathan Meador, Kentucky Public Radio

Former Louisville Congresswoman Anne Northup has endorsed Republican state Agriculture Commissioner James Comer in his bid for the governor’s mansion.

Northup joined Comer for a press conference atop Waterfront Park’s Big Four pedestrian bridge Friday morning, commending the 2015 gubernatorial hopeful on his success in helping legalize industrial hemp in the state. She urged Republican voters in Jefferson County and across the state to support his candidacy.

“When Jamie told me that he was thinking about running for governor, I told him that I would be all in,” Northup said. “And that I would be so enthusiastic about him being the governor because I knew what a difference he could make.”

Northup’s endorsement is the campaign’s highest profile since Comer officially launched his bid earlier this month alongside running mate Chris McDaniel, a conservative freshman Republican state senator from Taylor Mill who owns a concrete construction business.

Abbey Oldham

The Republican who challenged Senator Mitch McConnell in this year’s GOP primary tells the Associated Press that he’s strongly considering a run for governor.

Louisville businessman and Tea party activist Matt Bevin won 35 percent of the Republican Senate vote in May, following a campaign in which he portrayed McConnell as too moderate. If Bevin joins the 2015 gubernatorial contest, he’ll enter a G-O-P contest that includes Agriculture Commissioner James Comer and former Louisville Metro Councilman Hal Heiner.

Warren County Republican Party chairman Scott Lasley says he doesn’t think a Republican candidate has to wear the Tea Party label to win the party’s nomination next year.

But the WKU Political Science Professor thinks it will be important for GOP candidates to at least reach out to grassroots organizations ahead of the primary.

Twitter

Will the enduring popularity of former UK basketball star and Agriculture Commissioner Richie Farmer affect the gubernatorial aspirations of Farmer’s successor, James Comer?

The man who ran for governor on a slate with Farmer says he doesn’t think that the gubernatorial campaign of Farmer’s successor will be affected by backlash over Farmer’s corruption investigation and conviction. 

Former Republican state Senate President David Williams unsuccessfully ran for governor in 2011 with Farmer as his running mate, losing handily to incumbent Democrat Steve Beshear and his running mate, Jerry Abramson.

Williams, now a Circuit Court Judge, made a show of support at the Comer campaign’s kick-off event Tuesday in Tompkinsville.

 Update: 12:50 p.m. 

James Comer has selected Republican State Sen. Chris McDaniel as his running mate. McDaniel's Northern Kentucky district covers part of Kenton County.

Original Post:

Kentucky’s Agriculture Commissioner will go home to formally kick off his 2015 campaign for governor.  James Comer will roll out his campaign and announce a running mate Tuesday in his native Monroe County.

"I want to be a governor for all Kentuckians and there are so many parts of this state that are forgotten about by Frankfort," Comer told WKU Public Radio.  "I'm proud of Tompkinsville, I'm proud to be from a small town,  and I'm proud of my friends and family.  I think if you want to know something about a candidate, go to their hometown and see the people they grew up with, their former teachers, friends, classmates, and business partners, and ask 'What kind of guy is this?'"

Comer served as a state representative for 11 years before being elected Agriculture Commissioner in 2012.  Many of the reforms he brought to the troubled Agriculture Department will be part of his gubernatorial platform.

Comer announced last month that he was running for Governor, and is joined by fellow Republican Hal Heiner and Democrat Jack Conway as candidates who have formally announced gubernatorial intentions.

Warren County Republican Party Chairman Scott Lasley says Comer’s time as Agriculture Commissioner gave him the opportunity to travel the state and build up contacts that could benefit him during his run for governor.

Hal Heiner campaign

Republican gubernatorial candidate Hal Heiner says he isn’t sure whether burning fossil fuels like coal contributes to climate change.

 Heiner spoke to Kentucky Public Radio at the Kentucky Farm Bureau’s country ham breakfast last Thursday, saying that he’s on the fence when it comes to climate science.

“I don’t have a scientific position, on contribution or not, but what I do know is … if we’re going to stay economically competitive in a global marketplace, we have to burn coal,” said Heiner.

Heiner recently attacked his primary opponent, Republican Agriculture Commissioner James Comer, over comments he made last year that the state needs to move “beyond coal.”

Lisa Autry

Commissioner James Comer says many of the reforms he brought to the Kentucky Agriculture Department are needed across state government.  The gubernatorial candidate was in Bowling Green Friday speaking to the group Leadership Kentucky. 

Since taking the reins in 2012, Comer talked about how the Agriculture Department has become more accountable, transparent, and efficient which he said will be talking points on the campaign trail.

"The next governor will have to make some tough decisions.  The next governor will have to pay for this Medicaid expansion and find a way to infuse money into this pension system that threatens to bankrupt the state," explained Comer.  "We're going to go back to the Department of Agriculture on how we've saved money and shrunk the size of our government agency while doing more for the taxpayers because that's what we're going to have to do in all of state government in the future."

After the speech, Comer declined to comment on rumblings that he has picked State Senator Chris McDaniel as his running mate. 

"I'll say this about State Senator Chris McDaniel.  I'm a big fan of his.  He's had huge success in the private sector with a business he started," added Comer.  "In my opinion, he's proven himself to be one of the smartest guys in Frankfort.  He's passionate about finding waste, fraud, and abuse in state government and I think that's something the next administration is going to have to take seriously."

Comer will officially launch his gubernatorial bid and announce his running mate September 9 in his hometown of Tompkinsville. 

Louisville businessman Hal Heiner is also seeking the Republican nomination for governor.  Attorney General Jack Conway is the only announced Democratic candidate in the 2015 race.

Joseph Lord, Kentucky Public Radio

Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner James Comer officially announced his bid for governor at the 134th annual Fancy Farm political picnic, becoming the third candidate to do so in the 2015 race and setting the stage for a Republican primary battle against a former Louisville Metro councilman in the process.

"It's been my dream come true to be your commissioner of agriculture. And I view the people of Western Kentucky as our family. So T.J. and I have chosen this time, and this place, to say to all of you, I will be a candidate for governor in 2015," Comer said.

The anticipated announcement now pits Comer, a Republican who succeeded Richie Farmer in 2012, against Hal Heiner, a Republican who narrowly lost to Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer in a 2010 election.

Comer says he’s yet to select a running mate, but will do so once he officially files his candidacy papers on Sept. 9.

A new poll suggests the race to decide Kentucky’s next governor, it’s still very much up for grabs.

Data from a recent Bluegrass poll shows a plurality of Kentucky voters have either “no opinion” or are neutral toward three gubernatorial candidates, including Attorney General Jack Conway; former Louisville Metro Councilman Hal Heiner; and Agriculture Secretary James Comer, whom is expected to announce his candidacy this weekend at the Fancy Farm political picnic in West Kentucky.

Notably, the poll suggests Conway is trailing Heiner and Comer among African Americans, with a negative favorability rating of eight points.

The poll surveyed 714 registered voters, and reported a margin of error just under 4 percent.

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