Democrat Crit Luallen is reaching out to the United Mine Workers of America more than two years ahead of a potential gubernatorial bid in 2015.
Luallen, a former two-term state auditor, talked to UMWA members in Lexington on Thursday about her support for organized labor and for coal mining.
Union members gave a not-so-subtle hint about their early gubernatorial favorite by inviting Luallen to attend the Lexington meeting. She was the only one of a large field of potential candidates invited.
Luallen, who served as a senior aide to former Gov. Paul Patton, has made no secret of her interest in running in 2015. Reaching out to miners is a crucial first step in a major coal-producing state like Kentucky.
With this year's legislative session over, a look into lobbying spending in Kentucky shows big money is still a major player in Frankfort.
During the first two months of the this year's session, lobbyists spent $4.2 million to influence lawmakers on bills. The Legislative Ethics Commission says that's a 10 percent increase on the amount spent in the first two months of the last short session, which was in 2011.
Full spending reports won't be out for at least another month, but so far two lobbying groups stand out from the rest: Altria Client Services and Century Aluminum. Both spent more than $80,000 this January and February. Altria lobbied for a change to tobacco taxes, which passed. Century lobbied for a bill to let aluminum smelters buy power on the open market. It did not pass.
Other big spenders include the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce and the Kentucky League of Cities.
Actress Ashley Judd announced on Twitter Wednesday that she will not run for U.S. Senate in 2014. She had been rumored to be considering a run against Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell.
In a series of posts, the Kentucky native and current Tennessee resident said "After serious and thorough contemplation, I realize that my responsibilities & energy at this time need to be focused on my family. Regretfully, I am currently unable to consider a campaign for the Senate."
"I have spoken to so many Kentuckians over these last few months who expressed their desire for a fighter for the people & new leader. While that won't be me at this time, I will continue to work... as hard as I can to ensure the needs of Kentucky families are met by returning this Senate seat to whom it rightfully belongs: the people & their needs, dreams, and great potential. Thanks for even considering me as that person & know how much I love our Commonwealth."
It's likely that with Judd's announcement there will be increased attention on Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, a potential Senate challenger many establishment Democrats favored over Judd in the first place.