Politics & Government

Will a former aide to Steve Beshear be the next Democrat to run for KY governor?

Colmon Elridge spoke at the 2015 Kentucky District Tournament of the National Speech and Debate Association at Centre College recently.
Colmon Elridge spoke at the 2015 Kentucky District Tournament of the National Speech and Debate Association at Centre College recently.

Attorney General Andy Beshear is the only Democrat who has announced he will run for governor in 2019, but it's unlikely to stay that way for long. One of those candidates may even come from the Beshear political network.

Colmon Elridge, who served as executive assistant to former Governor Steve Beshear during his two terms in office, said he is strongly considering running for governor.

“It’s something I’m seriously considering,” Elridge said Monday, hours after Andy Beshear announced his campaign. “There’s really nothing that’s making me have pauses about doing it at this point.”

Elridge, who lives in Georgetown, joins a list of several Democrats who are considering getting in the race, including Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, former state Auditor Adam Edelen, House Minority Leader Rocky Adkins, and state Rep. Attica Scott, a freshman member of the House of Representatives from Louisville.

“I think we are past the point of folks sitting on the sideline,” Elridge said.

If either Elridge or Scott were to be elected, they would become the first black governor of Kentucky. Lt. Gov. Janeen Hampton became the first black constitutional officer in 2015.

Gov. Matt Bevin, the presumed Republican front-runner, has not yet said if he will seek re-election.

Elridge, 36, moved to Kentucky in 1990, shortly after his father died. He attended Transylvania University and Eastern Kentucky University before going to work for Steve Beshear and becoming the vice president of the National Young Democrats Association. He is now vice president of the International Coach Federation, which is a non-profit designed to help life coaches.

Since 2015, Elridge has been talked about as a potential statewide candidate. Recently, Elridge’s name was mentioned among Democrats who were thinking about running in Central Ketnucky's 6th Congressional District. Elridge said he couldn’t picture himself going to Washington D.C. and that he’s more tempted by a role that allows him to shape Kentucky.

Before he officially declares his intentions, though, Elridge said he wants to focus on helping Democrats regain control of the House of Representatives after they lost it in 2016 for the first time in almost 100 years. He also wants to see what other potential Democratic candidates for governor have to say about education and criminal justice reform before making a decision, which he said won't come before August.

“If I can find, in a litany of candidates looking to run, a voice about the issues I care about, I would support them,” Elridge said.

Other potential candidates said Beshear's announcement didn't change their chances of running.

"Of the names that have been mentioned so far there really hasn't been someone who has risen to the top with all of the issues we are facing in Kentucky," said Scott, a freshman lawmaker.

Scott said she wouldn't make her decision until after the November statehouse elections.

Adkins posted on Facebook Monday shortly after Beshear's announcement, saying he was still considering a run but is focusing on legislative races.

“It’s no surprise to anyone that Andy is running for governor, but as I have said before, others entering this race will have no bearing on my own decision to run," Adkins said. "My final decision depends on how I think I can best serve the people of Kentucky, and I will have a lot more to say about that in the future. I can assure you he will not be the only candidate on the Democratic ballot next spring. Competitive primaries are good for the party, because they give voters more opportunity to discuss important issues and then decide who has the best vision for moving Kentucky forward.”

A spokesman for Alison Lundergan Grimes said she too is still considering running for governor but is focused on helping Democrats win legislative elections in November.

Current Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear announced Monday morning in Louisville that he will be running for governor alongside Jacqueline Coleman as his running mate for lieutenant governor.