The list: Who could run for Attorney General in 2019?

07/17/2018 10:38 AM

With Attorney General Andy Beshear, D-Kentucky, officially running for governor in 2019 he’s created an open seat for the constitutional office he currently holds, but there are only so many people that fit the bill for the post.

Under Kentucky’s Constitution there’s an additional requirement that a candidate for the office of Attorney General needs to be a practicing lawyer for eight years prior to the election, be at least 30 years old and a resident of the state for at least two years.

Potential Republican Candidates

Whitney Westerfield: There’s currently one declared candidate in the race in Sen. Whitney Westerfield, R-Hopkinsville. Westerfield sought the position in a race against Beshear in 2015, and narrowly lost by a mere 2,000 votes out of the more than 950,000 ballots cast.

Westerfield announced his candidacy for the post in August of 2017 on Pure Politics with Nick Storm. The Hopkinsville Republican is the Senate Judiciary chairman and anticipates a healthy set of donations in the election.

One potential opening for other GOP candidates is Westerfield’s criticism of President Donald Trump, which could be all another GOP candidate needs in a primary to create some space — and run in lockstep with the president who still polls highly in Kentucky.

Mike Hogan: Hogan faced Westerfield in the GOP primary in 2015, and narrowly lost the race by 12,000 votes. Hogan appeared on Pure Politics in January of 2015 to describe his background and thoughts on the office.

After Beshear announced his candidacy for governor, Hogan reached out to his supporters for input on another run from the Louisa attorney, telling them he is “seriously considering once again running for Attorney General so that Kentucky can have an experienced prosecutor as its chief law enforcement official.”

Hogan is expected to be traveling the state and asking for input ahead of the January deadline to file.

Potential Democratic Candidates

There are far more Democrats with law degrees who seemed poised to pull the trigger on a run for Attorney General in 2019. Here are the possible candidates making the most buzz among insiders.

Rep. Chris Harris: Forest Hills Democratic Rep. Chris Harris’ name comes up on a lot of Democratic lists in 2019 including everything from Attorney General to Secretary of State.

The up and coming eastern Kentucky lawmaker has been named by some as a potential running-mate on Democratic gubernatorial slates as well as striking out on his own for constitutional office. Harris took a stand on guns during the legislative session, which could be an interesting position during the 2019 elections.

After retaining his seat in the legislature during the GOP wave in 2016 many in the Democratic Party see a bevy of options for Harris. Harris is currently in a re-election bid, defending his House seat against Republican Norma Kirk McCormick in the 2018 elections.

Rep. Sannie Overly: This Paris Democrat is not on the ballot in 2018, and could begin a campaign much earlier if she can tap resources, something that she likely saw lots of first hand as former Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jack Conway’s running mate in 2015, and as the former chair of the Kentucky Democratic Party.

Rep. Sannie Overly has served 10 years in the state legislature, including a stint as House Majority Caucus Chair.

Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes: There are big question marks surrounding Grimes’ future in Kentucky; she is term limited as Secretary of State, and had openly talked about potentially running for governor in 2019.

Grimes will have to decide if she wants to enter a Democratic primary that’s likely to attract multiple high-profile candidates, or the Lexington attorney will decide to seek another constitutional post — most likely as Attorney General.

The Democratic secretary of state has high name id, but also high negatives in polling after running in a contentious race against Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in 2014. Grimes won her 2015 re-election bid against relatively unknown Republican nominee Stephen Knipper with around 23,000 more votes — the highest vote-getter for Democrats in the 2015 election.

Sen. Morgan McGarvey: This Louisville Democratic attorney joined the state Senate in 2012, he’s seen as being a rising star within the party but will have to choose his next step. McGarvey could decide to wait out a statewide race and angle for U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth’s 3rd Dist. Congressional seat when he retires from office.


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