Andrew Horne, a Democratic Louisville attorney and retired lieutenant colonel in the Marine Corps, tells Insider Louisville he has been asked to run for U.S. Senate in Kentucky this year against Sen. Rand Paul, which he is giving serious consideration.
“A month ago, some people here locally and in D.C. reached out to me and we talked a bit about whether I would want to run for Senate,” says Horne. “They said this is likely to be a national security election, and with my military background I would be a good fit. There are still a lot of moving parts to this, but I’m talking to some people and considering it. It’s not something to take lightly.”
Horne, a veteran of the Gulf War and Iraq War, retired from the Marine Corps in 2006 — the same year he ran for Congress in Louisville’s 3rd District, losing in the Democratic primary to now-Congressman John Yarmuth. He filed to run for U.S. Senate in 2008 against Sen. Mitch McConnell, but dropped out of the race before the primary and endorsed eventual Democratic nominee Bruce Lunsford over Greg Fischer. Horne became a prominent national critic of the Iraq War and the Bush administration’s foreign policy in 2007, working with the VoteVets organization, and opened his own law practice in Old Louisville in 2013.
Though former state Auditor Adam Edelen was seriously considering a run for Senate in Kentucky, his loss to underfunded Republican Mike Harmon in November — and the general bloodbath for Democrats in the statewide elections — led to he and other prominent Democratic names backing away from the race. While filing for re-election on Tuesday, U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth said he was concerned that Democrats might not have a credible candidate willing to run for Rand Paul’s seat.
Horne says he initially was contacted about running by Mark Riddle, who has been the primary political consultant for Jack Conway — including in his surprisingly large loss to Matt Bevin in the gubernatorial race last year — but he says Riddle is not the primary consultant he is working with as he makes his decision.
“I’m not a politician and I don’t really fit any kind of political mold, but they say that this is probably the year for someone like that to run,” said Horne.
Last year, Horne penned an op-ed for The Courier-Journal on how America should address the crisis of ISIS in Iraq, which now has a stronghold in the same part of the country where he served with the Marines. He wrote that the country should avoid mistakes of the past where presidents stumble into armed conflict without congressional approval, saying that Congress should have a full debate and vote in which military force is either approved or not.
Horne’s wife Stephanie was elected to the Jefferson County School Board in 2014.
Yarmuth spoke to IL on Wednesday about a possible Horne candidacy, saying he spoke with Horne yesterday and believes that he would be a credible candidate.
“I think he has good credentials,” says Yarmuth. “His military experience does provide a contrast to Rand on national security issues… The good thing about Andrew that I think would play out well for him, I think he’s a very genuine person in his beliefs, and he’s not an ultra-liberal guy. So I think he would play in some other areas of the state without looking like he’s faking it.”
Yarmuth conceded that Horne would also have some disadvantages beyond his control, starting his campaign late and with very low name recognition.
“If he was going to run it would be better if he started a year ago, but it is what it is,” says Yarmuth. “It’s not too late, but it’s late for someone who doesn’t have built-in name recognition or tons of money… But he wouldn’t be laughed out of the race by any means. He’s a bright guy, he meets people well. And this is the year that if you put Trump or Cruz as the (GOP presidential) nominee, anything can happen down ballot.”
Yarmuth says that despite the electoral environment for Democrats, Rand Paul is still vulnerable, having spent much of his time in the last year campaigning for president outside of the state and having a job approval rating “well under 50 percent,” though “I don’t know if anyone has great re-elect numbers in this day and age.”
“I think even a generic respectable candidate probably has a 3 out of 10 chance of beating Rand,” says Yarmuth.
Though he has heard that former Miss American Heath French Henry and Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer have been urged to run and would be credible candidates, he believes both are unlikely to run, though he has also heard of the possibility of Lexington Mayor Jim Gray considering a candidacy.
“I’ve heard Jim Gray is considering it,” says Yarmuth. “I don’t know that for a fact because I haven’t talked to him, but I’ve heard it from people who have. So if he’s legitimately talking about it, Jim would also be a credible candidate.”
Gray declined to comment to Insider Louisville on Wednesday about a possible Senate run — before we could ask the question.
Though they had a heated primary campaign in 2006, Yarmuth says that Horne “couldn’t have been more helpful and supportive of me, and we have a great relationship. I would have no trouble at all supporting him enthusiastically if he’s our nominee.”