Conway said he wasn't close to dropping out and wants to continue in 'public service'

01/21/2011 06:25 PM

(UPDATED WITH VIDEO) FRANKFORT — After weeks of “will he or won’t he,” Democratic Attorney General Jack Conway filed for re-election Friday, saying he felt there was work left for him to do in the job.

Conway, speaking to reporters in the Capitol conference room near the attorney general’s office, said he and his wife, Elizabeth, have “hearts committed to public service.”

For the past several weeks, Conway’s political future had been a mystery. He announced he would run for re-election only a few weeks after losing to Republican Sen. Rand Paul in U.S. Senate seat in 2010. But with the filing deadline for candidates looming on Tuesday, he had yet to file his papers or start raising money for re-election.

Conway said that while he did briefly consider not running for re-election, he “never really came that close,” to deciding not to run.

He said he made his final decision about running on Tuesday, after speaking with his family and others, including Gov. Steve Beshear.

Conway said Beshear, a fellow Democrat, encouraged him to run for the office, but other factors, including his wife’s second pregnancy and whether he had any “gas left in the tank,” weighed on his decision.

Some in Frankfort had speculated that Conway would not run because several top officials in his office left over the last several weeks. But Conway said those departures had little to do with his political future. The changes had more to do with well-respected employees receiving better offers than what the attorney general’s office could match, Conway said.

So far, only one other person, Hopkins County Attorney Todd P’Pool, a Republican, has filed for the office of the attorney general.

Conway said he didn’t know P’Pool, saying he didn’t remember the Republican has being a leader in county attorney issues while Conway has been attorney general.

One of the issues P’Pool highlighted at his filing on Dec. 15 was Conway’s decision not to join in with other attorney generals in a lawsuit about the health care reform law Congress passed in 2010, a decision many Republicans in Kentucky have chided Conway for.

Conway said he didn’t believe the lawsuit would be successful and, therefore, opted to use the office’s resources to fight other issues relevant to Kentucky. Because of reductions in his office due to the state’s budget crunch, Conway couldn’t pursue all options, he said.

-Reporting and video by Kenny Colston

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