FRANKFORT — When Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes lost a bid for the U.S. Senate last November against Republican incumbent Mitch McConnell, a guessing game began about her political future.
Would she run for governor in 2015? What about attorney general? Might she walk away from politics and return to practicing law?
Grimes, 36, a Lexington attorney who in 2011 became the youngest female secretary of state in the nation, soon answered the question. She would stay in the political arena by running for another four-year term as Kentucky's secretary of state.
Grimes will secure another term if she can overcome a challenge in Tuesday's general election by Republican Steve Knipper, a former member of the Erlanger City Council and an information technology project manager.
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The latest Bluegrass Poll and campaign finance reports suggest Grimes enters the final weekend of the campaign in a strong position.
The poll, released this week, showed Grimes ahead of Knipper by 13 percentage points — 50 to 37, with 12 percent undecided.
Grimes' lead in campaign finances is even more compelling. As of Oct. 19, she had taken in $675,615 for her re-election campaign and spent $333,051. She reported about $342,463 on hand.
Knipper had raised $38,870 for his campaign and had spent $31,045. He reported an ending balance of about $7,825.
Knipper, however, remains adamant he can win the race.
"My campaign has a solid infrastructure to get out the vote," he said. "We are where we want to be.
"The mood of the people is against established politicians. I am confident the undecided will break for us."
Grimes said she would prevail in the race "because people all over the state recognize the work we have done in four short years."
She said those accomplishments include making electronic voter registration available to all eligible citizens, providing online voter registration for military and overseas citizens, overseeing the registration of 100,000 new businesses in the state, and simplifying the occupational license tax-filing process.
Knipper is not impressed.
"I have a problem with the speed she is doing some things," he said.
For example, Knipper said, Grimes should have obtained legislative approval for online voter registration instead of doing it through administrative regulations.
"Electronic voter registration was needed, and I decided to act now," Grimes said. "It will be ready for presidential elections next year."
Knipper also said he would bring more transparency to the job and be an even stronger advocate for business.
He promised to stay in the office for the full four-year term — a pledge he said Grimes won't make.
Speculation on Grimes' political future hasn't abated. Some people think she might run for the U.S. Senate again next year against Republican incumbent Rand Paul, but Grimes hasn't responded to the speculation.
"This is a job I love, and I'm trying my best to win re-election," she said when asked about her political future.