Some conservatives wary of Grayson

By Jack Brammer –

Secretary of State Trey Grayson

Secretary of State Trey Grayson

FRANKFORT — Many conservative Republicans concede that Secretary of State Trey Grayson is their party’s likely nominee in Kentucky’s 2010 U.S. Senate race now that incumbent Sen. Jim Bunning has quit the contest, but the thought makes them uneasy.

Some Republicans in the state wonder whether the former Democrat — Grayson voted for Bill Clinton in 1992 — is a true conservative who is tough enough to withstand an intense statewide race that will garner national attention.

“I hope the GOP doesn’t nominate another Arlen Specter as its 2010 nominee?” State Rep. Jamie Comer of Tompkinsville said on his Facebook page Monday night after Bunning decided not to seek a third term and Grayson said he will formally enter the race.

Specter is the longtime Republican U.S. senator from Pennsylvania who defected to the Democratic Party last April.

Comer said in an interview Tuesday that he had no Kentucky candidate in mind when he wrote the Specter line.

“I was just saying that I don’t want a candidate who says one thing in Northern Kentucky and says something else in Monroe County,” Comer said.

Comer said he thinks Grayson, 37, of Richwood in Boone County, is the party’s frontrunner, “but a lot of people don’t know where he stands on the issues.

“He needs to do a better job in defining his ideology. We know he’s a smart, honest, good guy. We want to know where he stands on the issues and if he will stand by them whatever comes along.”

That’s what Jim Bunning did, he said.

Republican political consultant Ted Jackson of Louisville agreed that Grayson has something to prove to conservative Republicans.

“I like his odds of being the Republican nominee next year but, to my knowledge, Trey has never been in a bare-knuckle campaign,” Jackson said.

“It remains to be seen how he reacts and performs in the heat of battle,” he said. “He doesn’t like conflict like some politicians but I think he will rise to the occasion.”

Jackson said Attorney General Jack Conway of Louisville, who some consider the front-runner in next year’s Democratic primary election for the U.S. Senate, may have an upper hand on Grayson in “toughness on the campaign trail.”

“Conway was involved in a tough, mean-spirited race for Congress, which he almost won,” Jackson said, referring to Conway’s 2002 race against Republican Anne Northup in Louisville.

The 2010 Senate race likely will take on a more savage tone, said Scott Jennings, a veteran of several Kentucky political campaigns and a former adviser to President George W. Bush.

Jennings said the contest will be one of the top three targeted races in the nation next year. “Democrats will a pour a lot of money into it,” he said.

Although Grayson’s past support of Clinton may help him in a general election, it provides his GOP primary opponents fodder for attack.

Grayson told students and community leaders at the University of Kentucky last September that he first registered as a Democrat but changed to a Republican when he realized he agreed more often with the GOP on issues.

He also acknowledged that he voted for Democrat Bill Clinton in 1992 when he cast his first presidential ballot.

Others eyeing the Republican primary are Bowling Green ophthalmologist Rand Paul, son of U.S. Rep. Ron Paul of Texas; Cathy Bailey, a former U.S. ambassador to Latvia; and Bill Johnson, a Todd County Navy veteran and businessman.

Republicans should not worry about Grayson’s political mettle, said Kevin Broghamer, a spokesman for Grayson’s exploratory committee.

“Secretary Grayson has faced political challenges, both while in office and during campaigns, and demonstrated that he is ready for the challenge,” Broghamer said.

Grayson “faced the most daunting political environment for Republicans in decades” in his 2007 re-election bid for secretary of state but won by 14 percentage points, he said.

During that campaign, Grayson and incumbent Agriculture Commissioner Richie Farmer, also seeking re-election, became the first Kentucky Republicans to win statewide office in an election won by a Democratic gubernatorial candidate since 1915.

Grayson “withstood unfounded attacks and gutter politics from the Democratic Party,” Broghamer said.

Walter Baker, a former Republican state senator and Supreme Court justice from Glasgow, says Grayson can fill the bill for the GOP and Kentucky in the U.S. Senate.

“He’s well-known, has been elected statewide with bipartisan support and has done an excellent job as secretary of state,” Baker said.

“I would put him in the category of (late U.S. senators from Kentucky) John Sherman Cooper and Thruston B. Morton. He is a gentleman who is consistent on his views and ready and willing to stand up for them.”

Rep. Stan Lee, a Lexington Republican who is considered one of Kentucky’s most conservative legislators, said it’s unfair to question Grayson’s toughness.

“You find out about that when someone is in the office,” Lee said. “Trey has been a fine secretary of state. He has the potential to be a fine U.S. senator.

“I think he knows very well that politics is a tough deal.”

Filed Under: ElectionsFederal GovernmentRepublican PartyUS Senate Race

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  1. fancy farmer says:

    Tell us again Trey, whose money is it?

  2. Interesting says:

    I’d much rather have Grayson in Washington as a senator than in Frankfort as governor. This die-hard conservative Republican thinks he would do a lot less damage in DC. We need a real conservative GOP governor, not another Swartzenegger or Whitman.

  3. […] former Democrat — Grayson voted for Bill Clinton in 1992 — is a true conservative who is tough click for more var _wh = ((document.location.protocol==’https:’) ? “” : […]

  4. Brandon says:

    Well, I wonder why. Grayson needs to let things be known. If he wants support, we’ll need to know what we’re supporting. He’ll fall victim to procrastination when it comes to views the same way Bunning did when it came to fund raising.

  5. Richard says:

    Not much has been said about Rand Paul. I believe it will be a very close contest between these two for the nomination. Rand is becoming very strong. I have yet to hear much from Trey.

  6. Noah Meeks says:

    I predicted when the HL did the first hit piece on Bunning, that when he dropped out of the race they wouldn’t waste any time doing a hit piece on Grayson.

    Trey Grayson was the HL darling against their archenemy Jim Bunning, but now that he’s gone they will stop at nothing to defeat Grayson since he’s the GOP frontrunner.

    The media did the same thing to McCain, they loved him when he was ripping on Bush but when he became the GOP nominee they ran hit pieces continuously against him.

  7. K Stagg says:

    With either Trey or Jacqueline Conway the trial lawyers will be very happy.

  8. Mike says:

    I agree, Trey Grayson is a liberal Republican and I can not vote for him. I am a conservative and will not vote if he is the Republican candidate. I hate saying that but its true.

  9. Interesting says:

    We won’t have a nominee that is worth a crap. A RINO like Trey or a fringe candidate like Paul. Give me a break. Might as well hand the Senate seat to either Little Jackie or Dr. Dan. I can’t vote for either Grayson or Paul. Draft Hal Rogers!

  10. HL Attacks GOP Frontrunner says:

    Well, color me surprised that the Herald Leader has already attacked Grayson. Grayson has been endorsed by right to life and the NRA. Why didn’t they mention that? Because they want to split the republican party.

    They also talked to mostly GOP has beens. Why didn’t they talk to REAL leaders in the party? Why didn’t they at least talk to someone from his home area?

    Why haven’t we seen a piece like this on Conway or Mongiardo? Because the paper wants to avoid the conflict between them.

    Grayson has stated his views in numerous emails that his campaign has sent out and in fundraising letters. I just feel like the paper did not do their job. Not that I am surprised.

  11. Rodney says:

    I am a lifelong republican and I hesitate to vote for Trey Grayson. In my opinion he is not a conservative and if elected he may well be another Arlen Spector. He has some convincing to do in order to get my vote. At this point I am an undecided republican voter.

  12. jawanaman says:

    Rand Paul is the only man for the job!The only true conservative in the field!

  13. Noah Meeks says:

    I want to hear from Conway and Mongiardo,,,what are their positions on ObamaCare, global warming, trade & foreign policy, Presidential appointments, etc.

    Why isn’t the HL focusing on issues instead of hit pieces?

  14. Interesting says:

    I want to hear Rand Paul disavow his father’s stances on national security and defense.

  15. Weatherman says:

    Rand Paul or bust. Trey needs to stay in the state, he will get chewed up and spit out in DC.

  16. Jerry Johnson, GOP says:

    This guy is so middle of the road he won’t need or want to make a decision on ANYTHING!!!

    We need leaders, not get-fat-in-Washington politicians…

  17. Larry West says:

    To Interesting:
    In a speech I heard, Dr. Paul differs from his father regarding the war. While he believes like his father that all wars should be declared by Congress (as that’s what the Constitution states), he would have voted to go to war with Afghanistan.
    He sounded a lot more pro-military than his father — in fact, he said the first resolution he will introduce is to change the practice that if you are promised a bonus for completing a tour of duty, but are discharged early due to injury in battle, you should get that bonus (rather than the current policy of not giving it). I could live with Dr. Paul as my Senator.

  18. Jack says:

    Larry West states:

    “In a speech I heard, Dr. Paul differs from his father regarding the war. While he believes like his father that all wars should be declared by Congress (as that’s what the Constitution states), he would have voted to go to war with Afghanistan.”

    I don’t think Larry realizes that Ron Paul voted for the authorization of force for Afghanistan, though Ron was disappointed when the operation turned into nation building.

    Rand Paul will present foreign policy different than Ron Paul, however what you may not understand is that Ron Paul is the most pro-defense republican there is – he just avoids playing offense as that makes us more unsafe.

    To say that Rand Paul has to change Ron Paul’s foreign policy to be more in favor of defense shows a misunderstanding of Ron’s position. You can read Ron Paul’s book, A Foreign Policy of Freedom, for more information.

  19. Bill Adkins says:

    When you consider that Republicans screwed up consistently for 8 years, more than doubled the national debt, added $7 trillion in the last 8 years to that debt, screwed the pooch in Afghanistan, blundered into Iraq, delivered what might very well be the Great Depression II — in this single instance Grayson appears to be brilliant.

  20. Jimi Hendricks says:

    I understand why a person such as Mr. Greyson would switch his political party registation because I did a similar thing 36 years ago. Much like what Mr. Grayson said prompted his change, I, too, realized my ideals were NOT those of the Democratic Party. My choice to be a Democrat was NOT based on an ideology. Instead, it was influenced by the opinions of my family.
    When I changed my registration to the Republican Party, I did it STRICTLY because my IDEOLOGY and that of the GOP were in unison. I did NOT change to the GOP in order to bring along any “hidden” liberal agendas with which I could influence the party with at some later date.
    In my home county, Boone, in Northern KY, several of the political leaders have a history similar to Mr. Grayson’s. They also changed from the Democratic to Republican Party. For several of these leaders the change DID NOT happen until AFTER the political demographics of Northern KY changed in the early 1990’s. Did their change of political ideology/party coincide WITH the demographic change OR did they change their political affiliation BECAUSE OF the political demographics change?
    These questions were asked of the Boone County Candidates when they ran for office. When asked, the candidates gave their full and detailed answer to the voters. Mr. Greyson must likewise give a full and convincing answer when asked questions such as these from an ever increasingly skeptical voting public.
    Firstly, Mr. Greyson, when you originally registered as a Democrat, were your political views and ideology not fully thought out or had yet to fully matured? Secondly, when you changed to the Republican Party was this change due to your political views/opinions having always been in sync with those ofthe GOP? OR, Mr. Greyson, did you change to the GOP because the majority of your district are Republican?