Henderson running for treasurer as blue-collar candidate with focus on unclaimed property

04/09/2015 06:52 PM

Former state Rep. Richard Henderson is running in the five-person Democratic field for state treasurer on a grassroots, blue-collar platform after coming up short in his re-election contest by 893 votes and being dogged by comments made at a pro-cockfighting rally in 2014.

With eight years in the General Assembly and four as a small town mayor, Henderson says he has the right mix of small budget, big budget thinking and rural know-how to be the state treasurer.

Several years ago, Henderson said he and his wife found they had money in the unclaimed property fund operated by the state Treasury, a discovery that sparked his interest in the post. The move to run crystallized after Henderson failed in his re-election bid in 2014.

“I figured when one door closes another one opens,” said Henderson, a Mt. Sterling Democrat.

Henderson said he would like to use state elected officials in the General Assembly and fiscal courts to create get more Kentuckians signed up in the unclaimed property program. It’s a “stimuli for local” state and county governments, Henderson said.

Over the past several years members of the GOP have tried to do away with the office, something Henderson said was “ridiculous” given the scope and likely costs associated with doing the job.

By ensuring the treasurer is elected the post also acts as a check on the legislative and executive branches of government, Henderson said.

The cash from unclaimed property could also flow into the General Fund if the treasurer’s office was absorbed by the Finance and Administration Cabinet, he said.

When asked if lawmakers could be trusted not to take the money, the former lawmaker said he trusts the legislature, but not “the system.”

“If money is readily available then it’s easy to capture,” Henderson said.

Henderson faces Louisville businessman Neville Blakemore; Rep. Jim Glenn of Owensboro; Daniel Grossberg, president of the Louisville Young Democrats; and Rep. Rick Nelson of Middlesboro in the May 19 Democratic primary.

If it weren’t for a five-way primary field, Henderson said he may have reconsidered a run.

“Had there not been five of us running … it would have been more about the money — and I’m not a money guy,” he said.

Running as the blue-collar candidate on a grassroots platform, Henderson also enters with baggage. He was caught on hidden camera by Louisville’s WAVE-TV at a pro-cockfighting rally in Corbin during his re-election bid for state House last year.

According to the WAVE-TV, Henderson said at the event that he “bet on chickens.”

“I must admit I’ve been to more than a few chicken fights. I must admit I liked them,” Henderson told the crowd in the hidden recording.

In his recent interview on Pure Politics, Henderson said the last time he attended a cockfight was around 1978 with his older brother.

The statements, he said, were “tongue-in-cheek — it was nothing about what Richard Henderson is about.”

Henderson said he wished he would not have made the comments at the rally, “but it was something I had done in 1978 — I was 9 years old. If the general public wants to hold that against me they’ll just have to do that.”

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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