Potential candidates for governor react with praise for Luallen, remain mum on their next moves

04/24/2014 12:09 PM

Former State Auditor Crit Luallen drew praise and appreciation from many in Kentucky politics Thursday after announcing her decision not to run for governor in 2015. But other prospective Democratic candidates for governor offered few hints about their timelines for announcing their intentions.

A longtime friend of Luallen, Attorney General Jack Conway, has considered her to be his mentor for many years. In a statement about Luallen’s decision, Conway said he was grateful for her guidance and wisdom and called her the “gold standard” for public service.

Conway has still not announced whether or not he will enter the 2015 race but told Pure Politics last month that his decision wouldn’t become public until after the Kentucky Derby.

Luallen and Conway all but eliminated the possibility of running together because Luallen said over the last 18 months that if she ran in 2015, it wouldn’t be for anything but governor. Likewise, Conway has said he is interested in running at the top of any ticket.

Another Democrat considering the race, Auditor Adam Edelen, also praised the work of his predecessor and said he honors her decision concerning the race.

“Crit Luallen is Kentucky’s greatest civil servant. Her decision to not run for governor will be a disappointment to many across the Commonwealth. I know this wasn’t an easy decision for her as a genuine commitment to all Kentuckians has been her life’s work,” Edelen said in a statement. “A measure of respectful deference to Crit’s decision-making process was at the core of my own; her decision not to run certainly affects mine.”

To that end, Edelen concluded his statement by saying he would not announce his intentions until the conclusion of the current investigation by his office into the Jefferson County Public School system.

But Luallen’s decision to take herself out of the race could begin to clear the logjam on the Democratic side, where prospective candidates have been openly mulling the race for the last nine months, if not more, but no major candidates have declared yet.

On the Republican side, Louisville businessman Hal Heiner was first to jump in the race last month with former Lexington councilwoman K.C. Crosbie. Heiner also thanked Luallen for her work in Kentucky.

“I appreciate Crit Luallen’s willingness to work for so many years on behalf of Kentuckians,” Heiner said.

Republican Agriculture Commissioner James Comer, who is also looking into a run for governor in 2015, used twitter to send out a statement praising Luallen’s work for Kentucky.

“I want to thank Crit Luallen for her years of outstanding service to KY & wish her the very best in the future,” Comer tweeted. “She’s a great Kentuckian!”

While Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes is not considering a run for the governor’s office, Luallen has been very active in Grimes’ run for U.S. Senate against Kentucky U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell. And Grimes said Luallen will continue to be a role model to her.

“I greatly admire and appreciate Auditor Luallen’s decades of service to the Commonwealth. I look up to Crit as a mentor and will continue to count on her valuable advice throughout the race as there is much left to do to move Kentucky forward,” Grimes said in a statement.

House Speaker Greg Stumbo, who’s name is also in the Democratic 2015 conversation, was another person from Frankfort with nothing but good things to say about Luallen.

“Crit Luallen has been a fine public servant and was an inspiration to a number of people throughout her years of public service,” Stumbo said. “She was a dedicated worker for the commonwealth, and I wish her the best in whatever she chooses to do.”

But before Luallen made her decision, Stumbo told the Lexington Herald-Leader and then Pure Politics that she could not win the 2015 race.


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