Walker says she's up against opponent who is 'calling in some chits'

03/23/2011 07:59 PM

Secretary of State Elaine Walker said she’s getting a handle on her new post and is focusing now on trying to raise enough money for her campaign to keep the job.

But she said she knows she faces a well-funded and well-connected opponent in Lexington lawyer Alison Lundergan Grimes.

While Grimes has contributed to high-profile Democrats, such as Congressman Ben Chandler and House Speaker Greg Stumbo in the past, Walker’s campaign contributions — other than to her mayoral bids in Bowling Green — consists of a $30 check to a state representative candidate in 2008.

“I’m a working girl. My husband and I have a small business, which was strongly impacted by my $16,000 a year mayor’s salary,” Walker said.

“My opponent and her dad have a lot of money. And they have been able to spread that money and are clearly calling in some chits,” she said of Grimes, whose father is Lexington businessman and former Kentucky Democratic Party chairman Jerry Lundergan.

Gov. Steve Beshear appointed Walker, the former Bowling Green mayor, in January to replace Trey Grayson, who resigned as Secretary of State to take the directorship of the Harvard University’s Institute of Politics.

Walker said she’ll have enough money for television ads and added that Beshear has been helpful in the campaign raising money.

“We are starting that fundraiser season,” Walker said. “I’m not going to have a huge pot of money, but I’m going to have enough money to run a very effective campaign, and we’re going to be successful.”

Walker had her first fundraising event Tuesday in Louisville. It was hosted by former Democratic state Senate candidate Virginia Woodward, who currently serves as executive director for the Kentucky Crime Victims Compensation Board.

Walker said her experience as an elected official and her leadership will carry her through to victory in the May 17 Democratic primary.

Kentucky’s Secretary of State oversees the voting process, as well as paperwork filings from Kentucky businesses.

On some of the issues, Walker said it would be costly for independents to be allowed to vote in Republican and Democratic primaries. Sen. Jimmy Higdon, R-Lebanon, has filed legislation for the last two sessions to allow independents to vote in primaries.

“What we’ve heard from the county clerks is that it would be very burdensome,” Walker said.

Walker said on Pure Politics that enough ballots for every independent that could potentially vote would have to be printed, driving up costs and preparation time.

She also worries that independent primary voters might possibly be able to influence an election to the point that they could take out a potentially strong candidate.

On the campaign finance reforms, Walker said she hasn’t had enough time to delve into the issue. Grayson, her predecessor, advocated for additional reporting deadlines for candidates to turn in their fundraising reports and called for candidates to have to file those reports electronically so the public could view them online quicker.

“Being sworn in on Jan. 29 and having a primary on May 17, has given me a very small window to focus on the legislative issues,” Walker said. “We’re still dealing with the legislative agenda right now, so I haven’t had the opportunity to look forward.”

(Programming note: Grimes had to reschedule a planned appearance on Pure Politics earlier in the month and is scheduled to be on the program in early April.)

About Ryan Alessi

Ryan Alessi joined cn|2 in May 2010 as senior managing editor and host of Pure Politics. He has covered politics for more than 10 years, including 7 years as a reporter for the Lexington Herald-Leader. Follow Ryan on Twitter @cn2Alessi. Ryan can be reached at 502-792-1135 or ryan.alessi@twcnews.com.


  • Bruce Layne wrote on March 24, 2011 09:35 AM :

    I’m sure it is expensive to allow independents to vote in the primary races. It costs Kentucky taxpayers a lot of money for the Republicans and Democrats to hold their primary elections. The two political parties are private political organizations, and their primary elections are paid for by tax dollars. How does Ms. Walker justify taxing independent voters to pay for the primary elections that only benefit the Democrats and Republicans? Independents are almost completely disenfranchised from Kentucky’s political process. It was designed this way, to reinforce the two party political stranglehold and prevent third party or independent challengers to the Two Parties That Are One.

    I’m all for allowing independent voters to vote in the primaries, because in most cases, the primary is for all practical purposes THE election, and the general election is just a formality. Or maybe we should be looking into the idea of not using any tax dollars for the Republican and Democratic primaries, and let these two private political parties fund their own primary elections or caucuses.

  • John Rogers wrote on March 24, 2011 02:44 PM :

    “Burden” on a government official doesn’t strike me as something that should prevent voters having more freedom to vote their choice

  • Sharon Tabor wrote on March 24, 2011 02:46 PM :

    Having relocated to KY from another southern state, I was spoiled as a voter .

    1) In that state, primaries were not restricted to the 2 major parties. Anyone registered to vote could vote for their candidate of choice. It really didn’t seem to diminish the party vote, and made the election process more democratic. Why should a citizen be denied the right to vote for a candidate merely because of their party registration? The only reason I am registered in a major party is so I can vote in the primaries, and some years even that doesn’t occur because of the lack of candidates within a particular party. I should be able exercise my Constitutional right to vote in every election, dispite my party affiliation.

    2) Primaries are not held in that other state until August. This cuts the campaign to a more palatiable acceptance by the citizenry. The longer the primary, the more expensive it becomes, the more mud slinging occurs, and the more tired people become of the candidates.

    3) Early voting was the norm. I’m not talking about absentee ballots. 3 weeks prior to an election, 1-2 voting locations open in each town and people can vote at their convenience. There is no extra staffing cost since these locations are already staffed – usually the Elections board and County court Clerk office. There is no voting allowed 4 days prior to the election. On Election Day all voting precincts open. There is a higher turnout for voting (especially among the eldery and working stiffs), shorter lines on election day, and makes for a much more pleasant experience.

    Why can’t KY be more progressive in their political outlook and voting procedures?

  • KYJurisDoctor wrote on March 24, 2011 10:02 PM :

    The “independents will cost us money if we allowed them to vote in primaries” EXCUSE is simply a SHAM one, NOT worthy of ANY credibility or serious consideration for an honest debate.

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