Democratic Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes narrowly won a second term Tuesday, blocking a challenge by Republican Steve Knipper, a former Erlanger city councilman.
Grimes, 36, gets four more years as Kentucky's chief election officer, chief business official and chief advocate for civic engagement. But in her acceptance speech, she also proclaimed her role as one of the few Democrats in Frankfort to survive Tuesday's Republican takeover.
"The rebuilding of the Democratic Party starts tomorrow," she said. "I look forward to leading that charge and to helping Speaker (Greg) Stumbo keep the House."
Grimes buried Knipper in campaign money, with $675,615 raised as of Oct. 19 to his $38,870, allowing her to pay for television commercials leading up to Election Day.
Grimes' victory came one year after the 15-point thumping she received from Republican U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell in a high-profile race where she was the challenger looking to move up the political ladder.
Since that loss, Grimes has returned her focus to her statehouse job. She campaigned this year on her accomplishments as secretary of state, such as 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, 45, criticized Grimes' work record during his campaign, saying he would be a more aggressive and transparent secretary of state than her. On the subject of voter fraud, for example, Knipper said Kentucky needs a statewide audit of voter rolls.
"We have 18 counties with more voters than citizens," Knipper recently told the Herald-Leader.
Grimes, who lives in Lexington, comes from a well-connected political family. Her father, business owner Jerry Lundergan, is a former state representative and Kentucky Democratic Party chairman who counts Bill and Hillary Clinton among his friends. Grimes has declined to say if she'll make another run for higher office, such as challenging Republican U.S. Sen. Rand Paul in his re-election bid next year.