Politics & Government

Rocky Adkins to Andy Beshear: Stop raising money for 2019 and focus on House races

Kentucky House Minority Leader Rocky Adkins, a potential candidate for governor in 2019, talked to the media at a Democratic party breakfast Saturday, August 4, 2018, in Mayfield, Ky.
Kentucky House Minority Leader Rocky Adkins, a potential candidate for governor in 2019, talked to the media at a Democratic party breakfast Saturday, August 4, 2018, in Mayfield, Ky.

Kentucky House Democratic Leader Rocky Adkins urged all Democratic candidates for statewide office Thursday to stop raising campaign funds until after the Nov. 6 House elections.

Adkins, who says he is “seriously considering” running for governor, specifically mentioned Attorney General Andy Beshear, who already has announced his campaign for governor, and his father, former Gov. Steve Beshear, who is supporting his son’s political bid.

He told reporters before the 55th annual Kentucky Farm Bureau Country Ham Breakfast at the Kentucky State Fair that Democrats should be focused on the Nov. 6 election.

“The most important race that anybody can talk about today is the potential we have with our outstanding candidates across Kentucky to take back the House,” he said.

Republicans took control of the House in January 2017 for the first time since 1921. They now outnumber Democrats in the chamber, 63 to 37. The GOP also has the majority in the Senate, 27 to 11.

Adkins, of Sandy Hook, said he thinks Democrats have a chance of regaining control of the House in November and party members must focus on raising money for dozens of candidates. All 100 House seats are up for grabs this fall.

Andy Beshear, of Louisville, announced his candidacy with running mate Jacqueline Coleman, a public school teacher from Mercer County, on July 9.

Asked about Adkins’ comments, Beshear campaign spokesman Brad Bowman said the attorney general, in just the last two weeks, has supported Democratic candidates and local parties in Nelson, Warren, Muhlenberg, Marion, Scott, Jefferson, Simpson, Franklin and Bullitt counties.

“These events have included nearly 1,400 people who are excited about both the 2018 elections and the Beshear/Coleman vision of prioritizing public education, fighting our drug epidemic, creating good paying jobs and restoring decency and transparency to state government,” Bowman said.

Asked again if Beshear will stop raising funds, Bowman repeated most of his initial statement.

Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, who is mentioned as a a possible candidate for governor or attorney general next year, told reporters at the breakfast that she has “lived” Adkins’ plea.

Grimes said she has “led the effort” to focus on 2018 races before those in 2019.

Lexington businessman Adam Edelen, who was formerly state auditor and is another possible Democratic candidate for governor next year, said he thinks it’s important to give priority to this year’s races.

“I’m out two or three nights a week campaigning for our state legislative candidates,” he said in a phone interview.

Edelen said he has no plans to make any announcement about his political plans before the Nov. 6 elections.

“I understand where Rocky is coming from,” Edelen said.

Republican Gov. Matt Bevin has not yet said whether he will seek re-election next year.

Bevin spoke to the 1,500 or so at the breakfast but did not mention the 2019 race for governor.

He said the state’s economy is doing well and that he expects to announce soon a $650 million business investment. He did not provide any details.

Several other politicians attended the breakfast, including Republican U.S. Rep. Andy Barr of Lexington, who is being challenged this fall by Democrat Amy McGrath of Georgetown.

Reporters asked Barr if he welcomes President Trump, who has been beset by several scandals involving members of his inner circle, to campaign for him.

The White House has said Trump plans to visit Kentucky in the next six weeks, but has provided no further details.

Barr said he has been asking Trump for the last 18 months to visit his district to talk about the opioid crisis and to promote Camp Nelson, a Civil War era Union Army supply depot, as a national park.

Barr said he does not think Americans know all the facts about the Trump scandals.

“None of it has anything to do with the Russian investigation,” he said, referring to the special counsel investigation of the Russian government’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election.

Absent from the Farm Bureau breakfast were Kentucky’s two Republican U.S. senators — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Louisville and Rand Paul of Bowling Green. They missed the event because the U.S. Senate is in a rare late-summer session.

Rep. Rocky Adkins asks teachers to continue rallying after House Republicans rushed through a pension bill.