Alison Lundergan Grimes, still "encouraged" after double-digit U.S. Senate loss this fall, will seek re-election

01/26/2015 04:15 PM

UPDATED LEXINGTON — Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes ended months of speculation Monday, telling a crowd of about 70 supporters that she will seek re-election this year rather than mount bids of governor or attorney general.

Grimes had been linked to nearly every constitutional office as the filing deadline approached, but she officially launched her re-election campaign at the Lyric Theatre and Cultural Arts Center, the same place she jumpstarted her 2011 run for secretary of state.

The 36-year-old Democrat had kept a low profile since her 15-point loss to U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell last fall, and she listed a number of initiatives she would like to complete with another four years in office, such as electronic voter registration, restoring felon voting rights and updating Kentucky’s non-profit laws.

After a grueling 18 months on the Senate campaign trail, Grimes said she’s “only encouraged” and her faith in public service and people of Kentucky are stronger today than ever.

“Today I come before you and I ask you to humbly give me that same faith and trust to continue to be your voice,” Grimes said. “It’s with excitement, it’s with energy that I tell you today I will be filing paperwork for re-election as Kentucky’s secretary of state.”

She told reporters she had spoken with Gov. Steve Beshear, whose son Andrew Beshear is the only Democrat in this year’s attorney general race, and Attorney General Jack Conway, the lone prominent Democrat running for governor, about her decision.

“We are excited about the steps moving forward and what we believe will be one of the strongest tickets that Kentucky’s ever seen,” Grimes said.

Conway, who is running on a slate with House Majority Caucus Chairwoman Sannie Overly, called Grimes a long-time friend and said her “energy and talents will be an asset to our efforts this fall.”

“Sannie Overly and I will continue to work hard to unify the Democratic Party and are excited about what is becoming a tremendous Democratic ticket with Auditor Adam Edelen, Secretary of State Alison Grimes and attorney general candidate Andy Beshear,” Conway said in a statement.

Grimes, who later filed her paperwork with her office in Frankfort, stopped short of endorsing Conway Monday, though she left an opening for an announcement later. “There will be another date and time to announce endorsements,” she said.

She had been mentioned as a possible gubernatorial candidate, even after her sizable defeat to the U.S. Senate’s new majority leader Nov. 4. Grimes brushed aside a question Monday on whether a closer margin would’ve brought her closer to a gubernatorial run.

“Only the good Lord upstairs knows what’s meant to be, and we’re here today and excited about filing papers for re-election as secretary of state,” she said.

House Speaker Greg Stumbo, a Prestonsburg Democrat and close friend to Grimes’ father, Jerry Lundergan, said he told Grimes to follow her heart before she made this year’s campaign public.

“There’s an old saying: Three people can talk you into running and 3,000 can’t talk you out of it,” Stumbo said. “But the truth is people who care about you should always say you do what’s in your heart in this line of work because it is demanding and there are ups and downs and if you don’t believe in yourself and what you’re doing, it’ll make the road extremely difficult.”

Much is unknown about Grimes’ campaign apparatus. She declined to say how she would staff her re-election effort, although Jonathan Hurst, who managed her Senate bid, and Dale Emmons, a Democratic consultant who worked on the campaign, attended Monday’s launch.

While Grimes kept her focus on this year’s constitutional elections, another round of congressional elections loom in 2016. Grimes has been linked to another run for U.S. Senate against Republican Sen. Rand Paul, who is contemplating a presidential run, or U.S. House against Rep. Andy Barr, R-Lexington.

When asked about the political advantages of running for re-election as secretary of state, Grimes said she never thinks about what public office can bring her, but rather what she can offer Kentuckians.

“The reason I am filing my paperwork today for re-election for the office of secretary of state is because I believe the strong, proven record that we have can continue to be built upon and most importantly continue to do great things for the people of this state,” Grimes said after filing her paperwork in Frankfort.

Grimes was the third candidate to enter the secretary of state election Monday. Fellow Democrat Charles Lovett of Louisville filed for the office, as did Republican Michael Pitzer of Louisville. Republican Stephen Knipper of Independence filed for the office Nov. 6.

Candidates have until 4 p.m. Tuesday to file for this year’s elections.


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