A sure thing? How expanded gaming plays in the 2015 gubenatorial debate

05/09/2014 02:43 PM

After the last two campaigns for governor made casino gambling a central theme, the major candidates who have announced for 2015 — or are close to announcing — essentially hold the same basic position: put it forward as a constitutional amendment and get the vote over with.

Attorney General and Democratic candidate for governor Jack Conway, who officially announced for the office on Tuesday, said “it’s a vote that we need to have.”

Conway is making education a major tenant of his campaign. And when asked how he’d pay for increase in early education, Conway pointed to casino gaming.

“I will continue the effort to try to make certain the people of the Commonwealth of Kentucky have an opportunity to vote on casino gaming in Kentucky,” Conway said.

Democratic Auditor Adam Edelen, who is considering the race, will announce his decision upon the completion of the major audit of Jefferson County Public Schools. He has a similar take on casinos as Conway.

“Either pass it or don’t, but we’ve got to get on with it. And my view is we need to pass believe we need those dollars for Kentucky schools and Kentucky’s roads,” Edelen told reporters when asked about the issue at the Kentucky Derby.

But he’s not sure casino gambling will be much of an issue in the next campaign.

“Surely to goodness we don’t have to run another governor’s race in Kentucky on the gambling issue. I think the people have spoken…if the political culture fails again in Frankfort I’m fully prepared to make that an important part of our platform,” he said.

House Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, has said he is considering the race for governor, and he is also a proponent of casino gaming vowing to make the issue Hose Bill 1, the symbolic top priority, in the 2015 session.

On the Republican side, Agriculture Commissioner James Comer said the issue is not one that comes up much for him, and he feels voters are “getting burned out” on the gambling debate.

Comer said the 2015 candidates will each have their own issues in the race and that expanded gaming was Beshear’s issue in his campaign.

“I do not think expanded gaming will be a major theme in the 2015 gubernatorial race,” Comer said. “It looks like every candidate in the race is going to be in favor of letting the people decide.”

Republican and Louisville businessman Hal Heiner was the first to enter the gubernatorial race in early March, and in an interview with Pure Politics the day he declared he said his position remains consistent: he believes the General Assembly should take the measure up and be done with it. Although, Heiner said he opposes casinos and would vote against it.

When Heiner ran for mayor of Louisville, he said in a debate with Greg Fischer that he wants to see the people of Kentucky vote on expanded gaming and stop the debate.

Heiner said that’s still what he believes because the discussion over the issue takes up too much of legislators’ time (8:00).

Former U.S. Ambassador to Latvia and GOP fundraiser Cathy Bailey is also considering a run in the Republican primary.

About Nick Storm

Nick Storm is the Anchor and Managing Editor of Pure Politics, the only nightly program dedicated to Kentucky politics. Nick covers all of the political heavyweights and his investigative work brings to light issues that might otherwise go unnoticed, like the connection between the high profile Steubenville, Ohio rape and a Kentucky hacker whose push for further investigation could put him in federal prison. Nick is also working on a feature length bio documentary Outlaw Poet: A documentary on Ron Whitehead. Follow Nick on Twitter @NickStorm_cn2. Nick can be reached at 502-792-1107 or nicholas.storm@twcnews.com.



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