In 15th Senate Dist., McGaha endorses Polston; Gridler launches TV ad; and one candidate drops out

05/09/2012 12:37 PM

The landscape of the Republican primary to replace retiring Sen. Vernie McGaha changed considerably this week as a Casey County candidate dropped out, McGaha endorsed candidate Mark Polston and the frontrunner, Chris Girdler, made the rare move of launching a TV ad.

McGaha’s endorsement came as a surprise after he said a month ago he didn’t plan to endorse in the Republican primary. McGaha announced he was backing Polston on Tuesday.

“I’m honored Senator Vernie McGaha has the confidence in me to endorse my candidacy to succeed him in the state Senate. I hope to build on his success and will depend on his support and guidance to better serve the people of Pulaski, Casey, Russell and Adair counties,” Polston said in a statement.

McGaha did not immediately return a call for comment.

Polston, who runs a family furniture store and has advocated for home schooling, has enlisted the help of David Adams, a Republican consultant who has been active in the tea party movement. But so far, Polston has raised $12,395.

Girdler, meanwhile, has pulled away in terms of funding — collecting more than $160,000 in contributions. Widely seen as the front-runner for the GOP nomination, Girdler has the backing of Congressman Hal Rogers’ network of supporters after serving as Rogers’ deputy district director.

“After 16 years of service, Vernie McGaha has earned a right to endorse who he wants. I respect his years of public service. But for almost three months Polston had a chance to share with the people what he would do if elected to serve. All we’ve gotten from Mr. Polston & Mr. Hoskins is a bag of criticism and a bushel of gimmicks, along with divisive geographical politics pitting counties against one another. I don’t think an endorsement alone will change the minds of the voters of the 15th Senate District without substance on how we move Kentucky forward,” Girdler said in a statement to Pure Politics.

And this week, Girdler spent a chunk of that money as he made the rare move of buying cable TV time in a state Senate primary. The ad highlights a faith, family and community message. The ad will play on cable around the district which contains Adair, Casey, Pulaski, and Russell County.

“I’m proud of the campaign we’ve been running. We have a real positive message that I believe the folks of our district have rallied behind. It is evident the citizens of Senate District 15 are tired of the politics of personal destruction, and they’re looking for a new way and a strong voice of leadership.” Girdler said in a press release.

Meanwhile, a third candidate, Todd Hoskins, said he’s pulling out of the race after raising $5,575 as of April 20th. Hoskins, an insurance agent in Liberty, also is throwing his support to Polston.

He said in a news release to the Herald-Leader’s Bill Estep that he and Polston would split the vote of a similar constituency while the “political bosses” in Pulaksi County put their money behind Chris Girdler.

“I realize that the only way to prevent big money from buying this race is to join forces with Mark,” Hoskins said in the release.

A fourth candidate from Somersent, A.C. Donahue, also is running in the May 22 primary.

Two other Republicans and one Democrat candidate have filed and will appear on the ballot, but they don’t live in the district. The three candidates filed under a proposed map under redistricting that have since been deemed unconstitutional by the Kentucky Supreme Court. All three live in Bullitt or Nelson counties, which would have been where the new map had the 15th District.


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