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Bunning says Grayson may raise more funds but he plans to stay in U.S. Senate race

July 07, 2009 | | Comments 6

UPDATED AT 6 P.M.

U.S. Sen. Jim Bunning, R-Southgate

U.S. Sen. Jim Bunning, R-Southgate

FRANKFORT — U.S. Sen. Jim Bunning acknowledged Tuesday that his campaign probably won’t match Secretary of State Trey Grayson’s fund-raising for the second quarter of the year, but he vowed to stay in the 2010 race for U.S Senate regardless.

Bunning’s pledge to endure means Grayson, a fellow Republican, must now decide whether to challenge his long-time political friend or stop exploring the race.

“This charade can’t continue” beyond July, Democratic political strategist Danny Briscoe of Louisville said Tuesday. “I like Trey Grayson but he has to make a decision.”

Grayson raised more than $600,000 in two months to explore a possible bid for the Senate seat now held by Bunning.

“More than $600,000 is more than enough to explore a candidacy. You have to go back to the days of Ferdinand Magellan and Balboa to see so much exploring.”

Bunning, who has been in the Senate since 1999 and is considered vulnerable by many, said he does not think Grayson, whom he labeled “a friend,” will run for his job if he stays in the race.

Grayson’s exploratory committee spokesman, Kevin Broghamer, responded with a “no comment” a few hours later.

Grayson said when he started his exploratory committee on May 6 that he had no plans to run for the office if Bunning seeks re-election. He has modified that stance in recent weeks by saying he has no plans at this time to run if Bunning stays in the race.

Grayson’s immediate political future will be damaged if he doesn’t eventually enter the Senate race regardless of what Bunning does, Briscoe said.

He noted that Grayson acknowledged to reporters at the Fancy Farm political picnic three years ago that he was considering running for governor in 2007, distancing himself from embattled then-Republican Gov. Ernie Fletcher. Grayson later decided not to be a candidate.

“If he does something like this again, it can’t help him,” Briscoe said. “He would become the Harold Stassen of Kentucky.” Stassen, one-time governor of Minnesota, ran unsuccessfully for the Republican nomination for president nine times between 1948 and 1992.

Larry Sabato, political analyst and head of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia, said he’s not sure how long Grayson can wait.

“The assumption is that Bunning probably won’t run and support Grayson,” Sabato said in a telephone interview Tuesday.
But Grayson could keep everyone guessing and not drop out of the race anytime soon.

“This could go into late 2009 or early 2010,” Sabato said. “If Bunning stays in long enough and Grayson is still raising big money, it would make it difficult for any other Republican to enter the race and win.”

The filing deadline to enter next May’s Republican primary election is 4 p.m. Jan. 26.

Regardless of when Grayson makes a decision, “the truth won’t change that Jim Bunning is very vulnerable,” Sabato said.

Bunning would not say Tuesday exactly how much money he has raised the last three months but said he expects to have more cash on hand than any other Republican in the race even though he does not have “the luxury” to spend every day raising funds.
He has until July 15 to file his campaign finance report with the Federal Election Commission.

Bunning raised $262,980 in the first quarter of this year and had $375,747 on hand at the end of March. Grayson’s committee said it had $572,103 on hand at the end of June.

Other Republicans seeking the U.S. Senate seat are Rand Paul, a Bowling Green ophthalmologist and the son of 2008 U.S. presidential contender Ron Paul, and Bill Johnson, a Todd County Navy veteran and businessman. Cathy Bailey, a former ambassador to Latvia and a Louisville philanthropist, has expressed an interest in running.

Paul reported last week that he had raised more than $100,000 for his campaign.

Democratic candidates in the race are Attorney General Jack Conway, Lt. Gov. Daniel Mongiardo and Darlene Fitzgerald Price, a former U.S. Customs agent from McCreary County.

Price’s husband and campaign chairman, Austin Price, said Tuesday she has raised about $15,000.

“She’s not going to sell out and be tied to any special interests,” he said.

– Jack Brammer

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  1. Kevin says:

    Run Jim run! You have been a great, conservative voice in Washington for Kentucky. Keep at it.

  2. […] cite this excerpt from the Lexington Herald-Leader: He said he does not have the luxury to spend every day raising funds but expects to have “more […]

  3. […] Trey Grayson’s (R), but he still plans to stay in the 2010 race for U.S Senate,” the Lexington Herald Leader […]

  4. Cupito says:

    Even though it isn’t popular in politics, I am glad to see that Jim Bunning stands by his word!

    Except of course for getting that bridge replacement for the decaying I-75 Brent Spence Bridge in northern Kentucky.

  5. […] Trey Grayson’s (R), but he still plans to stay in the 2010 race for U.S Senate,” the Lexington Herald Leader reports.“Bunning, who has been in the Senate since 1999, also said he does not think fellow […]

  6. yellowdogdem says:

    I sure do hope that Bunning runs, it will be an excellent opportunity to send him to the showers.