FRANKFORT — Candidates for U.S. Senate are crisscrossing the state this weekend in a last-ditch effort to get voters to the polls on Tuesday.
Attorney General Jack Conway campaigned Friday alongside former U.S. Sen. Wendell Ford in Central Kentucky. He's in a tight race for the Democratic nomination against Lt. Gov. Daniel Mongiardo, who spent the day campaigning in heavily Democratic areas of Western Kentucky.
Meanwhile, Secretary of State Trey Grayson traipsed across southeastern Kentucky Friday, remaining optimistic that he can win the Republican nomination even though rival Rand Paul has racked up double-digit leads in most polls.
Paul, a Bowling Green eye surgeon and the son of Republican U.S. Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, spent the day campaigning in Western Kentucky. The winners on Tuesday will face each other in the Nov. 2 general election.
The 85-year-old Ford, who served 24 years in the U.S. Senate and was governor from 1971 to 1974, displayed his campaign prowess as he stumped for Conway during three stops in Central Kentucky's 6th Congressional District.
"Jack's momentum is coming at the right time," Ford said at a morning stop with Conway at Shoney's restaurant in Frankfort before heading to Richmond and Lexington.
Recent polls of the race between Conway and Mongiardo show Mongiardo with a slight lead that is equivalent to a statistical dead heat.
Conway is expected to do well in his home county of Jefferson, the state's most populous county, and other urban areas, while Mongiardo appears strong in rural areas of Eastern and Western Kentucky.
Conway said Pike and Floyd counties in Eastern Kentucky should be an early indicator of the race results Tuesday night since former Gov. Paul Patton of Pikeville and House Speaker Greg Stumbo of Prestonsburg are backing him.
Conway is to spend Saturday and Sunday in Louisville and Lexington, and visit Owensboro, Bowling Green, Lexington and Louisville on Monday. U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth, D-Louisville, plans to accompany Conway on several stops in Louisville Saturday.
Ford, who rarely has endorsed in Democratic primary elections, said he is backing Conway over Mongiardo because "Jack has the temperament to represent us in D.C.
"Mongiardo talks a good game but when you look back at the accomplishments, there's not much there."
Mongiardo, who lost a close race to Bunning for the U.S. Senate in 2004, said he was not surprised that Ford, whom he says he admires, is campaigning with Conway "since Ford's granddaughter has been working for Conway's campaign."
Mongiardo said he is "extremely strong in all areas of Kentucky except Louisville and I think we have a lot of support there, especially among the working people."
Mongiardo campaigned Friday in Elizabethtown, Owensboro, Henderson, Madisonville, Hopkinsville and Cadiz — fertile ground for a candidate looking to attract conservative Democrats.
On Saturday, Mongiardo will start in Shelbyville and then travel throughout Northern Kentucky and the northeastern part of the state. He plans to finish the day with a rally in Grayson.
Mongiardo will be attending church services Sunday morning in Louisville and then knocking on doors in the state's largest city throughout the day. He also will travel to Bardstown and Lebanon.
On Monday, Mongiardo will travel through eight Central Kentucky counties after shaking hands with union workers in Louisville. He expects to finish Monday with a 7:30 p.m. rally at The Red Mile in Lexington.
Grayson campaigned Friday in Republican-rich Whitley, Bell, Clay and Laurel counties.
He said Friday he did not know if U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell and U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers of Somerset, who have endorsed him, will be on the campaign trail with him this weekend but they are cutting radio ads and making phone calls for him.
"I think I have a good chance to pull this out," Grayson said. "We are attracting many of the undecided voters and Paul's strategy of still attacking me makes me think he views the race as tight."
Grayson was hoping to get a boost with a statewide radio ad Friday that criticizes Paul for comments he made on statewide TV about farm subsidies. The ad says Paul said he "would eliminate ag payments ... completely."
Efforts to reach Paul for comment Friday were not successful.
Grayson is staying in south-central Kentucky Saturday, ending the day with Paul at the Scott County GOP Lincoln Dinner in Georgetown.
Sunday will find Grayson in Knox County. He is planning a fly-around-the-state tour on Monday, with news conferences in several cities.
Paul was in Western Kentucky on Friday — Edmonton, Tompkinsville and Scottsville. On Saturday, Paul will be in Louisville, Florence, Lexington and Georgetown.
His schedule is pending for Sunday, and it's back to Western Kentucky for him on Monday. He is to be on a Lexington radio show late Monday afternoon.
Meanwhile, a Lexington-based independent political action committee started airing a TV ad in Lexington and Louisville Friday against Paul.
The 30-second ad produced by Coalition for Kentucky Values contends Paul is raising campaign funds from "extremists."
It mentions Texas talk show host Alex Jones who says in a clip that bankers are poisoning food and water and intimates that the 9/11 attacks were "an inside job."
Tim Isaac, a media specialist in Lexington, said he formed the so-called 527 in the last few weeks "to speak out against Paul." He stressed that it has no ties with the Grayson campaign.