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Conway gets endorsement from key group in Western Kentucky

Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway

By Sam Youngman
syoungman@herald-leader.com

Attorney General Jack Conway announced another coveted endorsement Thursday in his bid for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination, winning the support of the Kentucky Pipe Trades Association.

Though only one other Democrat, retired engineer and perennial candidate Geoff Young, has joined the race, Conway has worked hard in recent months to lock up critical endorsements of Democratic officials and organizations.

Thursday’s announcement was the latest show of support, and while the association might not be a household name, it is a key endorsement for Democrats running statewide who hope to do well in Western Kentucky.

“Sannie Overly and I are honored to have the support of the Kentucky Pipe Trades Association,” Conway said, referring to his running mate. “We will continue to stand up for working families across our commonwealth to move Kentucky forward.”

Six local unions that make up the association all joined in the endorsement.

“We are proud to support the Conway-Overly ticket,” Kyle Henderson, business manager for the Local 184 said in a statement. “Jack and Sannie have an excellent record of fighting for working families and
we know they are the clear choice for governor and lieutenant governor.”

Former U.S. Sen. Wendell Ford, Lt. Gov. Crit Luallen and U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth have all endorsed Conway.

Attorney General Conway has back surgery

By Jack Brammer
jbrammer@herald-leader.com

FRANKFORT – Attorney General Jack Conway, a Democratic candidate for governor in 2015, underwent successful back surgery Wednesday in Louisville, his office said in a release.

The release said Conway, 45, had a minimally-invasive, microdiscectomy to relieve persistent pain caused by a herniated lumbar disc impinging on his sciatic nerve root.

The procedure was performed at Baptist Health Louisville by neurosurgeon Steven J. Reiss.

Doctors anticipate a complete recovery, and Conway is expected to keep a full schedule for all of calendar year 2015, the release said.

He will have a limited public schedule for the next couple of weeks while he recovers, it added.

Conway thanked the doctors and medical staff for their care and all those who have sent prayers and well wishes.

“He looks forward to hitting the ground running in 2015,” the release said.

Conway is running for governor of Kentucky next year with state Rep. Sannie Overly, D-Paris, as his running mate.

Lexington attorney Luke Morgan considering GOP bid for attorney general

By Jack Brammer jbrammer@herald-leader.com FRANKFORT – Luke Morgan, a Lexington attorney with experience in trial court and state administrative hearings, is considering a possible run as a Republican for state attorney general in 2015. Morgan, 51, said Tuesday he has not yet made a decision on whether to run to be the state’s chief law-enforcement […]

Justice Scott will decide by early January whether to run for governor

By Jack Brammer
jbrammer@herald-leader.com

Kentucky Supreme Court Justice Will T. Scott of Pikeville said Monday he will decide by early January whether to run for governor next year.

If he decides to enter the Republican primary election to be held next May, Scott said, he will step down immediately as a justice on the state’s highest court.

Scott, 67, emphasized during an interview in Lexington that he has not yet decided whether to enter the race.

He acknowledged that he has had “informal discussions” with potential running mates and that whoever might be his running mate for lieutenant governor is “a major factor” in his decision whether to seek the governor’s office.

He said it would be “a ticket for promise.”

If he runs, Scott said, his campaign would be based on ideas to improve the lives of Kentuckians.

The filing deadline to run for governor in 2015 is Jan. 27.

Two Republicans already have said they will run for governor – state Agriculture Commissioner James Comer of Tompkinsville and Louisville businessman Hal Heiner.

Attorney General Jack Conway of Louisville, a Democrat, also has entered the race, as well as Democrat Geoff Young, a retired engineer from Lexington who lost a bid in this year’s Democratic primary election for Central Kentucky’s 6th Congressional District seat.

Scott was elected to the Supreme Court, the state’s highest court, in November 2004 to represent the 7th District. It consists of 22 counties in Eastern Kentucky. He served as deputy chief justice from 2006 to 2010.

Scott was a circuit judge from 1984 to 1988. Before being a judge, he practiced law as a trial attorney from 1975 to 1980 and was an assistant commonwealth’s attorney for Pike County from 1981 to 1982.

He has made unsuccessful runs for Congress and state attorney general.

Scott, a native of Pike County, attended Eastern Kentucky University for a year before volunteering for service in the Army in 1966. He was a first lieutenant in Vietnam.

After his military service, Scott received a bachelor’s degree from Pikeville College and a law degree from the University of Miami in Florida.

Phil Huddleston chief of staff for Lt. Gov. Luallen; Shannon Tivitt deputy chief for Beshear

HERALD-LEADER FRANKFORT BUREAU

FRANKFORT – Veteran state employee Phil Huddleston of Frankfort will be chief of staff for newly appointed Lt. Gov. Crit Luallen.

Meanwhile, Gov. Steve Beshear announced that Shannon Tivitt, who had been chief of staff to former Lt. Gov. Jerry Abramson, will be his new deputy chief of staff.

Luallen said Wednesday in making the annoucement about Huddleston that his appointment is effective immediately.

“Phil’s extensive work in state government in both the executive and legislative branches will serve the administration well,” Luallen said in a statement.

“He understands how to best navigate the hurdles that can slow progress on needed policies, and he will make sure that our office continues to carry out Gov. Beshear’s vision of a healthier, more prosperous Kentucky.”

Beshear recently appointed Luallen to be his lieutenant governor to replace Abramson, who departed to take a job at the White House.

Huddleston, a native of Albany, has served more than 30 years in state government in a variety of roles, including as a legislative and policy analyst as well as chief of staff to the president of the state Senate.

Most recently, he served as chief of staff to the House majority whip.

“I am excited to join the administration and to help continue the strong initiatives of this office,” said Huddleston. “I thank Lt. Gov. Luallen for giving me this opportunity, and I thank Gov. Beshear for his continued leadership.”

Huddleston has served on the board for the Lexington Hearing and Speech Center, the Kentucky Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, the Human Services Coordination Alliance and the Frankfort Salvation Army.

He and his wife, Pat, have been married 43 years.

In a release, Beshear said Tivitt “has been an indispensable asset to my administration as the lieutenant governor’s chief of staff, overseeing policy efforts such as kyhealthnow and ‘Close the Deal,’” said Beshear.

“Her long history of work in city, county and state government operations gives her a valuable and practical understanding of what makes policies work. She is an ideal choice to serve on my senior staff.”

Tivitt succeeds Jamie Link, who resigned to become the executive director of the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington.

Prior to joining the Beshear administration, Tivitt served as chief of staff to Abramson for four years when he was mayor of Louisville.

She also led administrative efforts for the Louisville Development Authority for Louisville Mayor Dave Armstrong and Jefferson County Property Valuation Administrator Denise Harper Angel.

She began her career in public service as a legislative coordinator with the City of Louisville’s Board of Aldermen.

“I have spent the last 20 years working in various agencies in city, county and state government because I have a deep appreciation for and devotion to public service,” said Tivitt. “I’m very grateful to Gov. Beshear for this opportunity to serve as his deputy chief of staff, and I look forward to helping continue the good work of this administration.”

Tivitt is a native of Breckinridge County and graduated from the University of Louisville. She resides in Louisville. Her appointment is
effective immediately.

–Jack Brammer

FRANKFORT – Veteran state employee Phil Huddleston of Frankfort will be chief of staff for newly appointed Lt. Gov. Crit Luallen.

Luallen said Wednesday in making the annoucement that his appointment is effective immediately.

“Phil’s extensive work in state government in both the executive and legislative branches will serve the administration well,” Luallen said in a statement.

“He understands how to best navigate the hurdles that can slow progress on needed policies, and he will make sure that our office continues to carry out Gov. Beshear’s vision of a healthier, more prosperous Kentucky.”

Gov. Steve Beshear recently appointed Luallen to be his lieutenant governor to replace Jerry Abramson, who departed to take a job at the White House.

Huddleston, a native of Albany, has served more than 30 years in state government in a variety of roles, including as a legislative and policy analyst as well as chief of staff to the president of the state Senate.

Most recently, he served as chief of staff to the House majority whip.

“I am excited to join the administration and to help continue the strong initiatives of this office,” said Huddleston. “I thank Lt. Gov. Luallen for giving me this opportunity, and I thank Gov. Beshear for his continued leadership.”

Huddleston has served on the board for the Lexington Hearing and Speech Center, the Kentucky Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, the Human Services Coordination Alliance and the Frankfort Salvation Army.

He and his wife, Pat, have been married 43 years.

–Jack Brammer

Luallen pledges to support Beshear as KY’s new lieutenant governor

By Jack Brammer
jbrammer@herald-leader.com

FRANKFORT — Crit Luallen, in her first public speech as Kentucky’s 56th lieutenant governor, told several hundred people in the Capitol Rotunda Friday that she is ready to help Gov. Steve Beshear with his “continuing efforts to build a Kentucky poised for a prosperous future.”

Luallen, who has served with six other Kentucky governors in high positions and was elected twice as state auditor, said the day was not one for laying out a new agenda but “to celebrate all that is right and good about our state’s past and its hope for the future.”

Luallen particiapted in a publc-swearing in ceremony that attracted various state officials like Attorney General Jack Conway, Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes and Senate President Robert Stivers and other well-wishers.

Beshear named Luallen to be the state’s No. 2 public official to replace Jerry Abramson, who departed to take a job with the White House to help local officials throughout the country.

In his remarks at Friday’s public ceremony, Beshear said Luallen will help his administration in improving access to health care and creating jobs.

Luallen called on several family members and friends to participate in the ceremony.

Tourism Secretary Bob Stewart, who went to school with Luallen, served as moderator.

Catarine Hancock, Luallen’s great niece and a sophomore at Lexington’s Lafayette High School, sang the National Anthem.

The Rev. Nancy Jo Kemper, pastor of New Union Christian Church in Woodford County, gave the invocation and Eleanor Jordan, executive director of the Kentucky Commission on Women, introduced Luallen.

Franklin Circuit Court Judger Philip Shepherd, administered the public oath of office as Luallen’s husband, Lynn Luallen, held the Bible upon which she put her hand. A private swearing-in ceremony was held Thursday at the home of former Chief Justice John Palmore and Carol Palmore.

Centre College President John Roush provided the closing remarks and Colmon Elridge, executive assistant in the governor’s office, sang “My Old Kentucky Home.”

The Governor’s School for the Arts Alumni offered the musical prelude for the ceremony that lasted about an hour.

A public reception was held in the Governor’s Mansion after the ceremony. Music there was provided by the Centre College Kentucky Ensemble.

Jean-Marie Lawson Spann files to run for state agriculture commissioner

With family members looking on, Jean-Marie Lawson Spann files for state agriculture commissioner.By Jack Brammer
jbrammer@herald-leader.com

FRANKFORT – Farm radio show host Jean-Marie Lawson Spann made her Democratic bid for state agriculture commissioner official Wednesday by filing papers signed by former Gov. Paul Patton and former Agriculture Commissioner Billy Ray Smith.

With her husband, Bobby Spann of Union, and her parents, Sam and Beverly Lawson of Bowling Green, at her side, Lawson Spann filed her declaration papers in the secretary of state’s office in the Capitol.

Her mother will be her campaign treasurer. Her campaign manager will be named later, she said.

Lawson Spann had announced in June that she would be seeking the office now held by Republican James Comer of Tompkinsville. Comer is running for governor next year.

Lawson Spann is in her 10th year as host of the Jean-Marie Ag Show, a radio show about farm news. She is vice president of marketing for Lawson Marketing Inc. and a former vice president of marketing for Hartland Equipment.

A graduate of Western Kentucky University, Lawson Spann was a two-term state president of the Kentucky Young Democrats, secretary of the Democratic Party State Central Executive Committee, and a delegate to the 2004 Democratic National Convention.

Her husband is vice president of external affairs for Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky Airport.

Lawson Spann is the only candidate to file so far for agriculture commissioner. State Sen. Dennis Parrett, D-Elizabethtown, had considered running for the seat but announced in September decided that he will not.

Patton and Smith are part of Lawson Spann’s so-called “Ag-Mazing Army.”

Others who have endorsed her candidacy include former Govs. Julian Carroll and Martha Layne Collins, U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth of Louisville, former auditor and lieutenant governor-to-be Crit Luallen, former agriculture commissioners Ed Logsdon and David Boswell, and House Speaker Pro Tem Larry Clark.

First candidate officially files for state office race in 2015

By Jack Brammer
jbrammer@herald-leader.com

FRANKFORT – Two days after an exhausting race in Kentucky for the U.S Senate, a candidate filed Thursday to run next year for a constitutional office.

Former Erlanger city councilman Steve Knipper, 44, of Independence, is the first candidate to file with the secretary of state’s office for the 2015 races. He filed Thursday as a Republican to run for secretary of state.

The office, now held by Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes, keeps track of state business documents and oversees elections.

Grimes, who lost to Republican incumbent Mitch McConnell in this week’s U.S. Senate race, is in her first term as secretary of state. She has the option of seeking re-election next year to another four-year term.

Knipper, an IT project manager for health provider Kentucky One, said in a phone interview that he thinks the office of secretary of state is “underutilized.”

Knipper said he would like to see the office get involved in electronic registration of voters and provide tighter security over elections.

He also said he is not slating with any particular candidate for governor. Two Republicans already have announced their bids for governor — Agriculture Commissioner James Comer of Tompkinsville and Louisville businessman Hal Heiner. Attorney General Jack Conway of Louisville has said he will run as a Democrat for governor.

All state constitutional offices, including governor, are up for election next year.

Filing for those offices began Nov. 5. The deadline to file is 4 p.m. Jan. 27.

Judge denies Grimes’ request to stop GOP mailers

McConnellGrimesBy Jack Brammer
jbrammer@herald-leader.com

FRANKFORT — A judge denied a request Monday from Alison Lundergan Grimes’ U.S. Senate campaign to stop mailers from the Republican Party of Kentucky that Grimes said intimidated voters.

Franklin Circuit Judge Phillip Shepherd turned down the Grimes campaign’s request for a temporary injunction against the mailers, which were distributed last week on behalf of the re-election campaign of U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Kelsey Cooper, a spokeswoman for the Republican Party of Kentucky, said Grimes’ “sloppy lawsuit may go down in history as one of the worst publicity stunts of all time.”

Grimes campaign spokeswoman Charly Norton said the campaign “is exploring options.”

“It’s reprehensible that Mitch McConnell is celebrating lying, intimidating, and bullying Kentucky voters from exercising their right to vote,” Grimes campaign manager Jonathan Hurst said in a statement. “There’s no low too low for Mitch McConnell in his personal quest for power.”

Grimes and McConnell face each other in Tuesday’s biggest election in the state.

In a lawsuit filed Friday, the Grimes campaign said the mailer is false and misleading in that it implies to voters that they have violated Kentucky election laws.

The mailer is emblazoned with “Election Violation Notice” and states that “you are at risk of acting on fraudulent information that has been targeted for citizens living in” the recipient’s county.

A one-page letter inside lists what it calls “blatant lies” told by Grimes, saying “Grimes should be ashamed of herself.”

Judge recuses herself from hearing defamation lawsuit in state Senate race

By Jack Brammer jbrammer@herald-leader.com WINCHESTER — State Senate candidate Ralph Alvarado’s defamation lawsuit against his Democratic opponent, state Senate Minority Floor Leader R.J. Palmer, has to wait another day for a hearing. A hearing was scheduled Wednesday afternoon before Clark Circuit Judge Jean Logue to hear Alvarado’s request that Palmer’s campaign stop a TV ad […]