As the filing deadline for candidates running for statewide office in Kentucky passed this afternoon, Republicans saw a crowded field of gubernatorial candidates in this May’s primary get even more cramped. Meanwhile, several prominent Democrats — including attorney general and gubernatorial candidate Jack Conway — are poised to stroll to their party’s nomination with little to no competition.

Matt Bevin
Matt Bevin

Louisville businessman Matt Bevin was not discouraged from his blowout loss to Sen. Mitch McConnell in last year’s Republican primary for U.S. Senate, appearing in Frankfort less than two hours before the deadline to file his papers for a run for governor. He will be joined on the ticket by Jenean Hampton, a Bowling Green tea party activist who lost her bid for a state House seat last fall. Hampton is the first African-American woman to run for statewide office in Kentucky’s history.

Bevin joins a crowded field of Republicans vying for the governor’s mansion, including expected frontrunners Hal Heiner of Louisville and Commissioner of Agriculture James Comer. Also running in the Republican primary is former state Supreme Court Justice Will T. Scott.

On the Democratic side, Conway appears to have an easy path to his party’s nomination for governor. Despite rumors that prominent Democrats — such as Alison Lundergan Grimes, Greg Stumbo, Dan Mongiardo and Luther Deaton — may challenge him, all declined to file for office, leaving perennial longshot candidate Geoff Young as his only opponent.

Attorney General Jack Conway
Attorney General Jack Conway

Many expected Grimes would announce a run for governor at her rally in Lexington on Monday, though she announced instead that she would run for re-election as secretary of state. A source in Frankfort tells Insider Louisville that some Democratic Party leaders were scrambling to piece together a ticket to challenge Conway as late as last night, though no one stepped up to run.

Conway isn’t the only prominent Democrat with an easy path to a nomination in May. State Auditor Adam Edelen has no primary challenger in his re-election bid, and Andy Beshear — Gov. Steve Beshear’s son — has no primary opponent in his race to become attorney general. Grimes also has an easy path to re-election, facing little-known Democrat Charles Lovett of Louisville.

Republican state Sen. Whitney Westerfield appears to be the favorite in the Republican primary for attorney general, while state Rep. Mike Harmon is the only GOP candidate to file for secretary of state.

The field in the race of state treasurer is the most crowded of all,  with eight candidates — four of whom were state legislators last year.

Fark.com founder Drew Curtis has also announced he will run for governor as an independent with his wife on the ticket. The filing deadline for independent candidates in all statewide offices is Aug. 28.

Joe Sonka is a staff writer at Insider Louisville focusing on government, politics, education and public safety. He is a former news editor and staff writer at LEO Weekly and has also freelanced for The Nation and ThinkProgress. He has won first place awards from the Louisville Metro chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists in the categories of Health Reporting, Enterprise Reporting, Government/Politics, Minority/Women’s Affairs Reporting, Continuing Coverage and Best Blog. Email him at [email protected]


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