GOP's Harmon hopes to overcome incumbent's publicity in bid for auditor, but Edelen says his opponent has been MIA so far

05/31/2015 07:56 PM

Facing a well-funded incumbent who gets his share of earned media, Republican state Rep. Mike Harmon believes he will surprise Democratic Auditor Adam Edelen in this year’s election for state auditor.

While Edelen tackles his share of high-profile issues, such as untested rape kits in law enforcement custody, thus far he says he has heard crickets from his opponent’s campaign.

“I don’t see my opponent anywhere, candidly,” Edelen said Thursday at the Scott County Franklin D. Roosevelt Dinner after saying some GOP candidates “have yet to demonstrate that they have the skill set or temperament to help us solve the big problems we have in Kentucky.”

Harmon, a Danville insurance agent who has raised $10,270 to Edelen’s $468,070, says he has stayed busy with GOP dinners, calling supporters and laying the groundwork for his general election campaign. Neither faced primary opposition this year.

“We wanted to make sure our entire slate was solidified,” Harmon, who ran for lieutenant governor with GOP Rep. Phil Moffett of Louisville, said at the Republican Lincoln Dinner Saturday in Lexington. “We’re solidified, we’re excited, and we’re looking forward to this fall.”

Harmon will not only have to overcome a steep funding gap, but also an incumbent who has the public pulpit of the auditor’s office.

Edelen’s investigations have been campaign fodder in other races, as Agriculture Commissioner James Comer used an audit of the Kentucky Department of Agriculture under Richie Farmer to demonstrate his willingness for bipartisan work in cleaning up an agency. Farmer is serving a 27-month sentence in a West Virginia federal prison for misusing public funds.

Much of his campaign will focus on accomplishments of the auditor’s office during his three-and-a-half years in office.

“We’re going to be running a very aggressive campaign because we have expanded the role of the office in so many new, innovative ways,” Edelen said.

“For instance, being the first state auditor to get into the administration of our public schools, helping solve the terrible tragedy with the number of unprocessed rape kits we’ve got. It’s important when you do new things in an office that you go back and ask for a mandate to continue that work, and that’s what this election’s going to be about.”

Harmon conceded that Edelen has an advantage in the public eye, but he expects to oust the Democrat in the Nov. 3 election.

“He’s doing his job that he’s been elected to and obviously he has a greater opportunity to get the non-bought press in that regards, but that’s OK,” Harmon said. “We’re going to work hard; we’re going to do a great job. I think he’s going to be surprised at the results this fall.”

Video from Republican Lincoln Dinner by Nick Storm. Video from the Scott County FDR Dinner by Kevin Wheatley.

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