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Jack Conway raises $750,000 in seven weeks for gubernatorial campaign

Attorney General Jack Conway, who is seeking re-election, touted his record at the Fancy Farm Picnic in Fancy Farm, Ky., on Saturday, Aug. 6, 2011. Photo by Pablo AlcalaBy Sam Youngman

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 to his campaign for governor

Hal Heiner, a former Louisville Metro councilman, announced Tuesday that he has entered the race for the Republican nomination for Kentucky governor. Heiner announced his candidacy at Star Manufacturing in Lexington. PHOTO BY PABLO ALCALA | STAFF By Sam Youngman

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.”

Andy Beshear reports $1.1M on hand for attorney general race, picks up endorsements

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.

Democrat Jean-Marie Lawson Spann expected to jump into state ag race this week

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.

New inspector general named for state Cabinet for Health and Family Services


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.

–Jack Brammer

Tourism has $12.5 billion impact in Kentucky


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.

Beshears invite public to Derby Celebration, once known as Derby Breakfast

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


Grimes releases information about absentee voting in May 20 election

Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, the state’s chief election official, released information Wednesday about in-person absentee voting in Kentucky.

Most new state laws will take effect July 15

FRANKFORT – Most legislation approved in this year’s General Assembly will take effect July 15, Attorney General Jack Conway said Monday in an opinion.

Conway said the effective date is for all approved legislation except for general appropriation measures or those containing emergency or delayed effective dates.

Conway said the state Constitution requires that 90 full days pass after the session before most of the new legislation can take effect. The session ended April 15.

Crit Luallen says she won’t run for governor of Kentucky in 2015

Auditor of Public Accounts Crit LuallenBy Sam Youngman

Former State Auditor Crit Luallen, long thought to be one of the strongest Democratic candidates for governor in 2015, said Thursday she is not running.

Luallen said in a statement to the media that “after careful deliberation, I have decided not to enter the 2015 governor’s race.”

“I remain passionate about Kentucky and its potential for the future,” Luallen said. “But in the end, I had to make the decision based on what I thought was best for me personally and my family. I am blessed with a wonderful marriage, a large extended family and a circle of good friends. My husband, Lynn, and I both have our health and a lot we want to do and enjoy together. This simply wasn’t the right time in our lives for us to make the decision to enter the race.”

Luallen said she wanted to “express my profound gratitude to the many wonderful supporters who have given me so much encouragement to consider the race.”

“It was that encouragement which made this a very difficult decision and one that required careful consideration,” she said. “I am optimistic that others will step forward with the leadership and vision to move our state forward.”

Luallen’s announcement brings to a close Frankfort’s hottest parlor game, will-she-or-won’t-she, as other potential Democratic candidates, including Attorney General Jack Conway and State Auditor Adam Edelen, waited to see whether Luallen would enter the race.

Both men have told the Herald-Leader that Luallen’s decision would not prevent them from running, but her decision not to run opens up more paths to victory for them.

In a statement Thursday, Conway called Luallen “the gold standard for public service and for friendship.”

Edelen issued a statement calling Luallen “Kentucky’s greatest civil servant,” and said her decision to not run would affect his own decision whether to run.

“As excited as I am about ensuring that the 2015 governor’s race contrasts the future with the familiar, I’m committed to maintaining a laser focus on my work as the taxpayer watchdog,” Edelen said. “In that spirit, I’ll have no announcements of a political nature until the conclusion of the examination of the Jefferson County Public Schools.”

In early March, cn|2’s Pure Politics reported that Luallen had taken a trip to Washington, D.C., to meet with consultants and her pollster, Celinda Lake.

Luallen said shortly after that visit that she was putting the pieces in place should she decide to run, but she didn’t see a “magic date” for announcing a candidacy.

“As I’ve said, I’m taking all the steps necessary that if I decide to run, I will have everything in place to hit the ground running,” Luallen said at a Democratic women’s dinner in Louisville in early March. “So I have not made a final decision yet, but I’m a pretty methodical person. All of my friends know that well. Sometimes too methodical. So I’m taking all the steps to make sure all the pieces would fit together.”

Luallen holds the respect of most Democrats in Frankfort, but some of them expressed concern that she isn’t known well enough around the state to win a Democratic primary.

House Speaker Greg Stumbo told the Herald-Leader in March that Luallen is a “professional bureaucrat” who “can’t win that race.”

On Thursday, he called Luallen a “fine public servant” and a “dedicated worker for the commonwealth.”