By Jack Brammer
FRANKFORT – Dennis Parrett, a Democratic state senator from Elizabethtown, is “definitely considering” running for state agriculture commissioner in 2015.
He said Wednesday that he will decide within the next few weeks whether to enter the race that already has attracted a Democratic candidate.
“I have an interest in seeing agriculture move forward in this state,” Parrett, a farm supplier who has represented the 10th Senate district of Hardin and part of Jefferson County since 2011, said in a telephone interview.
Parrett, who will turn 55 on Oct. 30, had no opposition in this year’s primary and general elections for his legislative seat. He
is a farmer and the co-owner of Cecilia Farm Service in Hardin County. He is a former agriculture extension agent in Hardin and Nelson counties and holds a bachelor’s of science degree in agricultural economics from the University of Kentucky.
Jean-Marie Lawson Spann, a Democrat who is the host of a weekly radio show about farm news in Kentucky, announced her plans in June to run for state agriculture commissioner next year.
She is vice president of marketing for Lawson Marketing Inc. and a former vice president of marketing for Hartland Equipment in Bowling Green.
Asked about running against Lawson Spann, Parrett said, “I would not be running against her. I would be running for the office.”
Lawson Spann said in an email that she is focused on running her campaign.
“I have a plan to recruit and grow markets for our farmers’ products, to grow jobs and to improve Kentucky’s economy,” she said. “I do not think it is appropriate for me to comment about someone who is not officially committed to running for the office.”
The current state agriculture commissioner, Republican James Comer, has decided to run next year for governor. He is to officially announce his candidacy and running mate Sept. 9 in his hometown of Tompkinsville.
LOUISVILLE – Political talk spiced up the 51st annual Kentucky Farm Bureau Country Ham Breakfast early Thursday morning at the Kentucky State Fair.
Dozens of politicians gave as many media interviews as possible and circulated among the 1,600 early risers to feast on country ham, redeye gravy, scrambled eggs, grits, hot biscuits and political speculation.
Republican candidates for governor
State Agriculture Commissioner James Comer said he has chosen his running mate in next May’s Republican primary election for governor, but would not announce his choice until he officially declares his candidacy at a Sept. 9 news conference in his hometown of Tompkinsville.
Widespread speculation has focused on state Sen. Christian McDaniel of Kenton County.
Comer repeated his belief that a millionaire Republican from Jefferson County – a reference to Louisville businessman Hal Heiner – will not be the next governor of Kentucky.
He said he is “strong” in the state’s largest city, noting that state Sen. Julie Denton, R-Louisville, is supporting him.
“After Sept. 9, you are going to see a steady stream of key endorsements from Republicans leaders in Jefferson County,” Comer said.
Heiner, who announced his candidacy in March, dismissed Comer’s prediction.
“What I am hearing is that the Democratic candidate (Attorney General Jack Conway) is from Jefferson County and that the Republican nominee had better be able to hold it close in Jefferson County,” said Heiner, a former Louisville mayoral candidate. “I know from my past involvement in Jefferson County, I’m the candidate who could do that.”
Heiner said he is traveling “full-time” across the state, visiting 60 counties in the last five months.
Heiner said he will be a governor who will create jobs, protect the state’s “best natural resource – coal,” and be as transparent as possible.
Conway, the only other announced candidate for governor, did not attend the breakfast. He was in Washington for a news conference with five other state attorneys general and U.S. Department of Justice officials to announce a $16.65 billion settlement with Bank of America Corp. to resolve federal and state claims about mortgage-backed securities.
2016 race for U.S. Senate
Two prominent Democrats have been mentioned as possible candidates for the U.S. Senate in 2016.
That’s when the seat now held by Republican Rand Paul of Bowling Green is up for election. Paul is considering a possible run for the U.S. presidency in that year that could take him out of the U.S. Senate race.
State Auditor Adam Edelen of Lexington said before Thursday’s breakfast that “Rand Paul is in the business of running for two jobs at once. I’m not. I’m looking forward to being a candidate for state auditor (in 2015).”
Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer said, “I’m hearing a lot of people tell me that’s a good idea for me to do. But what I’m telling them is that I am awfully happy being mayor of Louisville and we have a lot of work left to do.”
For the health of it
Kentucky House Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, who arrived early at the breakfast, said he was prepared for all the political talk that accompanies one of the state’s premier political events.
“I had to take two Pepto-Bismol this morning so I wouldn’t get sick over breakfast hearing (U.S. Sen.) Mitch McConnell and Jamie Comer brag about themselves about all the things they have done,” Stumbo said.
Attorney General Jack Conway continued his effort to lock up the Democratic nomination in next year’s governor’s race with an overwhelming show of force, announcing Tuesday that his campaign has raised more than $750,000 since entering the race in early May.
Conway and his running mate, state Rep. Sannie Overly, reported having more than $700,000 in cash on hand.
While a number of other Democrats are considering a run for governor after this year’s elections are over, Conway has moved quickly to consolidate Democratic support, announcing his large fundraising haul after rolling out a series of major endorsements.
“Sannie and I are honored by the bipartisan support we’ve received from friends across Kentucky who believe in our vision of creating better jobs, building infrastructure and investing in early childhood and higher education,” Conway said in a statement. “We have a proven record of experience and following through on the commitments we’ve made to the people of this state. We are uniting Democrats and hard-working Kentuckians who believe that together we can build a better commonwealth to live, work and raise our families.”
When Conway first entered the race, a number of Democrats worried that his early entry might distract from the attention and resources Alison Lundergan Grimes will need to defeat U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell this November.
In Tuesday’s news release, the campaign said it had held two fundraising events, “keeping the commitment to avoid fundraising conflicts with Alison Lundergan Grimes and the Kentucky House Democratic Caucus.”
Republican Hal Heiner gave $4 million of his own money to his campaign for governor during the second fundraising quarter of the year, Heiner’s campaign said Monday.
Heiner, a wealthy businessman and former Louisville Metro councilman, reported to the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance that he had more than $3.9 million in cash on hand at the end of June after having amassed a total of more than $4.3 million since getting in the race in early March.
“It is going to take a political outsider to bring much needed changes to Frankfort, and Hal’s success in job attraction and growing a business makes him ideal for the job of governor,” campaign manager Joe Burgan said. “It is obvious that Hal is deeply committed to public service, and believes that the future of Kentucky is worth investing in.”
Heiner gave his campaign $200,000 during the first three months of the year and raised about $86,000.
While Heiner is the only announced Republican candidate for governor, Agriculture Commissioner James Comer told the Herald-Leader last week that he will announce his intentions in late July or early August, with an official announcement likely in mid-September.
Comer said Monday he was not surprised by the massive cash injection Heiner made to his campaign.
“I believe with all my heart that you cannot buy a race for governor,” Comer told the Herald-Leader. “You need grassroots support, and I do not see that support for Hal Heiner as I travel around the state.”
By Jack Brammer
FRANKFORT — Andy Beshear, a Democratic candidate for attorney general in 2015 and the son of Gov. Steve Beshear, reported Thursday that his campaign has nearly $1.1 million cash on hand, after raising $160,000 in the last three months.
Beshear, a Louisville attorney with Stites and Harbison, has raised more than $1.26 million total for his campaign. He started it last November.
The candidate also announced the endorsements of five prominent Democrats for his campaign – former Attorney Generals David Armstrong and Chris Gorman, state Auditor Adam Edelen, former state Auditor Crit Luallen and state House Speaker and former Attorney General Greg Stumbo.
By Jack Brammer
FRANKFORT —Jean-Marie Lawson Spann, host of a weekly radio show about farm news in Kentucky and a former official with a farm equipment dealership, has scheduled a statewide tour this week to announce her plans for the state agriculture commissioner race in 2015.
Lawson Spann, a Democrat of Bowling Green, has been widely mentioned as a candidate in the race.
She said in a release Monday that she will “be starting her announcement tour across Kentucky” at 10 a.m. Wednesday at the Capital Plaza Hotel in Frankfort.
HERALD-LEADER FRANKFORT BUREAU
FRANKFORT –Maryellen Buxton Mynear of Lexington is the new inspector general for the state Cabinet for Health and Family Services , Secretary Audrey Tayse Haynes announced Thursday in a release.
The appointment takes effect June 1.
“I am very pleased to welcome Maryellen as the cabinet’s new inspector general,’ Haynes said. ‘The expertise she brings from her work in the attorney general’s office, as well as her service in local government, will be beneficial in her new role at the cabinet.”
“The office of inspector general serves a vital role in protecting the citizens of the Commonwealth and in ensuring the integrity and efficiency of many taxpayer-funded programs,” said Mynear. “I am honored to have been selected to lead this effort.”
The office of inspector general regulates more than 2,200 day care facilities, almost 500 longterm care facilities and 2,550 other health facilities, and operates the Kentucky All-Schedule Prescription Electronic Reporting System, commonly known as KASPER.
Mynear succeeds Mary Reinle Begley, who served as the cabinet’s inspector general until her appointment as commissioner of the Department for Behavioral Health Developmental and Intellectual Disabilities in October 2013.
Mynear holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Kentucky and is a 1991 graduate of the UK College of Law. She comes to the cabinet from the attorney general’s office, where she directed all litigation for the Office of Consumer Protection since December 2004.
Prior to joining the attorney general’s office, Mynear served for four years as assistant general counsel for the Kentucky School Boards Association and spent four years with the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government Department of Law. She began her legal career as an associate for the law partnership formerly known as Frost & Jacobs, now Frost Brown Todd LLC.
Connie Payne, who has served as acting inspector general since Begley’s departure, has been named deputy inspector general. A 24-year veteran of Kentucky state government, Payne has been employed since 1995 by OIG, where she began working as a surveyor. She was appointed the regional program manager of the Lexington office in January 1996 and was named the director of health care for the OIG in February 2011.
HERALD-LEADER FRANKFORT BUREAU
FRANKFORT — Tourism had an economic impact of $12.5 billion in Kentucky last year — the highest amount ever.
That was a 2.6 percent increase from 2012, Gov. Steve Beshear and Tourism, Arts and Heritage Secretary Bob Stewart said Monday.
“Our tourism industry continues to grow because Kentucky has stunning natural beauty, interesting and exciting attractions, and world class hospitality that make our visitors want to come back over and over again,” Beshear said in a release.
“Its growth is also evidence of the hard work of tourism businesses and the professionals who work hard each and every day to make Kentucky the great destination it is.”
The release of the figures coincides with National Travel and Tourism Week, celebrated May 3-11 this year.
By Jack Brammer
FRANKFORT – Gov. Steve Beshear, who has transformed the long-running Governor’s Derby Breakfast to the Governor’s Derby Celebration, is inviting the public to attend the free festive event in downtown Frankfort Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
The free Derby breakfast that Gov. A.B. “Happy” Chandler started as a private get-together for a few friends in the 1930s eventually turned into a public spectacle that for years attracted about 15,000 guests for a free country ham breakfast near the Capitol. Under Beshear, the event has become more of a street fair in downtown Frankfort. It has attracted a smaller crowd of several hundred but it is said that the state with it saves tens of thousands of dollars.
“We are delighted to host visitors once again to our historic capital city for the 78th Governor’s Derby Celebration,” Beshear said Friday in a release. “Downtown Frankfort has a fantastic mix of prominent landmarks, unique shops and charming restaurants that makes it the perfect backdrop for this family-friendly and time-honored event.”
Beshear and first lady Jane Beshear said visitors can expect the traditional fare of past Derby Celebrations such as a farmers’ market, a variety of arts and crafts, specialty vendors, children’s activities, Kentucky Horse Park trolley rides, live music on the Jim Beam Entertainment Stage and the annual stick horse race.
Several downtown Frankfort restaurants and stores will be open with unique Derby offerings during the celebration. Visitors will also be able to tour the Capital City Museum, the Thomas D. Clark Center for Kentucky History, the Old State Capitol and the Old Governor’s Mansion, which are all located downtown.
For the first time, the First Christian Church on the corner of Ann Street and Broadway will have breakfast items for sale, including sausage biscuits, pastries, coffee and juice.
Parking for the event will be available off-street and in several open lots located in downtown Frankfort.
More information on the event, including a complete entertainment schedule, is available at http://governor.ky.gov/derbycelebration/.
Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, the state’s chief election official, released information Wednesday about in-person absentee voting in Kentucky.