Rep. Mike Harmon upsets incumbent Adam Edelen in auditor's race

11/04/2015 01:14 AM

State Rep. Mike Harmon overcame an overwhelming cash disadvantage and a staff exodus following the indictment of his former campaign consultant to upset incumbent Auditor Adam Edelen in a 4-point win on Tuesday.

Harmon’s win came amid speculation that Edelen was eyeing a run against U.S. Sen. Rand Paul in 2016, and the Democrat had been pegged as a rising star within his party by the likes of MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow.

In August, Harmon parted ways with former Paul aide Jesse Benton, who was acquitted Oct. 22 on a charge of lying to the FBI in connection to an Iowa political bribery investigation, and counted only his daughter as a paid staffer toward the end of his campaign. The Danville Republican reported receipts totaling $36,853 in his 15-day pre-election report to the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance compared to $808,430 for Edelen.

Harmon, who referenced his Christian faith during his acceptance speech, likened his 36,335-vote victory to the tale of David and Goliath.

“About three weeks ago, two, three weeks ago, I felt like God was leading me to pick up five stones, five stones to be symbolic of the David and Goliath,” Harmon, who pulled a bag of rocks from his pocket, said from the Galt House in Louisville. “But you know what? I read the book. David won.”

“With hard work, money wasn’t as important as people,” he added. “People count.”

Edelen, in his concession speech at the Frankfort Convention Center, promised to ensure a smooth transition once Harmon takes office in January.

His next plans include a return to the private sector and coaching Little League, and he alluded to an overwhelming conservative wave that swept Republicans into five of the state’s seven constitutional offices.

“So folks, it turns out the thing about hurricanes is that sparrows can do very little about them,” Edelen said from the podium.

“Mike came into this the underdog and we did our best to keep him that way, but in this environment it just wasn’t enough,” Edelen continued.

Harmon credited his victory “first because of all the prayers, but secondly because we stuck to the issues.”

At the forefront and “the biggest elephant in the room,” Harmon pointed to the state’s underfunded pension systems for public workers and teachers.

“I’m going to push, just as I promised, push for full performance audits to make sure that we can diagnose those pensions, make sure that we can do everything we can to fix those pensions and make sure that we get them back on track,” he said.

Despite his and other Democrats’ losses, Edelen defended his party’s prospects in the years ahead.

“Folks, no matter how out of fashion those ideals may have been this election, we will have our day,” he said. “We will be back.”

Kevin Wheatley

Kevin Wheatley is a reporter for Pure Politics. He joined cn|2 in September 2014 after five years at The State Journal in Frankfort, where he covered Kentucky government and politics. You can reach him at or 502-792-1135 and follow him on Twitter at @KWheatley_cn2.


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