Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Where all the candidates stand...for now

Luallen and many Democrats still considering the race say they hope that 6th District Congressman Ben Chandler will run and become the unifying force.

But Chandler, re-elected last week, had said he would likely not run for governor if Democrats took control of the U.S. House -- which they did. Chandler released a statement yesterday expressing respect for Abramson and Luallen but giving no indication of his own intentions.

State Sen. Daniel Mongiardo of Hazard said he's considering the race but supports trying to have a unified ticket.

"I'd hate to see us have a bloodbath in the primary and lose momentum going in to the fall," Mongiardo said. "I think it's probable that we'll get a strong ticket that can win and lead the state, but I think there are several people that could win a Democratic primary that may not be able to win a general election."

He declined to be more specific.

But former Lt. Gov. Steve Henry, who says he is in the race, railed against Luallen's call for Democrats to choose a consensus candidate, saying such decisions shouldn't be made in a "smoke-filled backroom."

"That's unacceptable to me and I think it's unacceptable to the people of Kentucky," Henry said.

Henry said he expects to formally announce his candidacy within two weeks.

Terry McBrayer, a lobbyist and former state Democratic chairman who ran in the 1979 Democratic primary for governor, said he was disappointed with yesterday's announcements because either Abramson or Luallen would have been the kind of consensus candidate he's hoping for.

McBrayer, of Lexington, said he believes former Gov. Brereton Jones also could win broad support within the party. Jones did not return phone calls for the past week to his Midway horse farm.

With the field of major potential contenders thinning, McBrayer said he would have to take a closer look at getting into the race.

Jack Conway, a Louisville attorney who ran unsuccessfully for Congress in 2004, said he also is taking a closer look.

"I'll wait for the decision of Ben Chandler," Conway said. "I'm not ruling anything in or out. And I'll take a look at either governor or lieutenant governor as part of a ticket that makes sense for the state, for the party and for me personally."

State Treasurer Jonathan Miller said he's weighing family considerations as he considers entering the race. Miller said he'll wait for an announcement from Chandler before deciding what he will do.

Attorney General Greg Stumbo said he's still considering the governor's race, as well as the option of running for re-election. He said he expects to make a decision by early next month.

Stumbo said it would be "wonderful" if Democrats could settle on a consensus candidate. "But sometimes that's just not possible and you have to have elections," he said.

House Speaker Jody Richards of Bowling Green, who lost in the Democratic primary in 2003, said the only race he's considering right now is for re-election as speaker in January.
Other than Congressman Ben Chandler, there are only two Democrats that could be potentially running that I could really support, not the reluctant support that Attorney General Greg Stumbo recieved from me in 2003 as I had supported former State Auditor Ed Hatchett in the primary. Those two are State Treasurer Jonathan Miller and Louisville attorney Jack Conway. If Chandler is indeed out of the race, then yes, my dream ticket would be a Miller/Conway ticket. You would have both candidates under 40. Of course, If I had my way, former Vice President Al Gore would have ran again in 2004!

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