FRANKFORT — Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Ed Marksberry thinks his party is not playing fairly with his campaign.
Marksberry, an Owensboro contractor who lost a bid for Congress in 2010, filed a lawsuit Monday in Franklin Circuit Court against state Democratic Party chairman Daniel Logsdon, alleging the party is favoring the candidacy of Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes.
"I love the Democratic Party, but if it keeps on doing what it has been doing, it looks like they're ignoring the working class in the party over the rich," Marksberry said Monday during a telephone interview.
Logsdon did not respond to an email and phone call seeking comment.
Marksberry said in the four-page lawsuit that he was surprised and shocked when the state Democratic Party released an email July 1 about Grimes' announcement of her candidacy and mentioned her fundraising efforts.
Marksberry said the party had declined his request to distribute various announcements about his campaign events through its electronic mailing network. He said he was told that sending such communications would violate the party's bylaws, which prohibit the party from using its assets to endorse or support one Democratic candidate over another Democratic candidate in a Democratic primary election.
The party's email about Grimes was "in violation of the clear and unambiguous language of its bylaws," the suit says. "Clearly, resources of Kentucky Democratic Party were utilized to promote Alison Lundergan Grimes' campaign and denied to supporting the candidacy of Edward Marksberry."
Marksberry and Grimes are trying to win next May's primary election for the U.S. Senate to run in the November 2014 general election against incumbent Mitch McConnell or Louisville businessman Matt Bevin, the only two candidates so far in the GOP primary election.
Marksberry said the conduct of Logsdon, in his personal capacity and as state Democratic Party chairman, has "irreparably and unfairly damaged" his candidacy.
He is asking that Logsdon and the party "be prohibited from further violations of their own bylaws regarding favoring one Democratic candidate over another in the Democratic Party primary."
Marksberry emphasized in an interview that the suit was not directed at Grimes.
"I love Alison," he said. "She probably will be our party nominee, but I'm just saying that we need to go through the process, and the party should play fair."
He added that the late Gatewood Galbraith of Lexington often entered political races he knew he couldn't win, "but he wanted to influence the issues."
"I want to win but I especially want to influence the issues."
Grimes spokesman Jonathan Hurst said the campaign had no comment on Marksberry's suit.
Marksberry is being represented by Owensboro attorney Evan Taylor.
Marksberry hinted that he might run as an independent. "I'm pretty steamed right now, but it would be hard to leave the party," he said.
To run as an independent, a candidate would need the signatures of 5,000 voters by August 2014.
Two other people with little statewide following have said they will run for the Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate next year: Louisville music promoter Bennie J. Smith and University of Louisville communications professor Greg Leichty.