Politics & Government

Matt Jones forming exploratory committee, taking him one step closer to KY Senate bid

Kentucky Sports Radio host Matt Jones is taking another step toward running for U.S. Senate.

Jones, a Democrat, said Thursday he is forming an exploratory committee for a potential Senate bid.

“It is a step forward towards running,” Jones said Thursday on his radio show. “But this is going to be an amazingly difficult thing to do.”

Candidates thinking about running for office cannot spend more than $5,000 without officially registering with the Federal Elections Commission. By forming an exploratory committee, Jones will be able to spend more than $5,000 while contemplating his political future without officially entering the race.

Jones said he wanted to travel Kentucky and talk to people before making his decision on whether to run.

He announced earlier this month that he will travel the state in coming months to promote a book he is writing about U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. After that announcement, he was fired by LEX18 from his television show, Hey Kentucky!

“If I’m going to determine whether or not I should run, I should do it by going out in the state,” Jones said. “I think too often candidates sit there and think ‘you know what, I’d be really good at this,’ and then make the decision.”

Jones said previously that he planned on making a decision before the University of Kentucky’s first football game, which is Saturday, but said Thursday that the deadline was given to him by LEX18. He now says he won’t announce his decision until after November’s gubernatorial election.

“I think right now, this governor’s race is really important,” Jones said. “So I think it’s important for me, and I would argue for everyone else, to get out of the way.”

Both McConnell and former Marine Corps pilot Amy McGrath are already running television ads in the 2020 Senate race.

McGrath’s campaign declined to comment, but the McConnell campaign made light of the news.

“Let us know when he’s explored his way out of the primary,” said Kevin Golden, McConnell’s campaign manager.

Jones, who celebrated his 41st birthday Wednesday, has said he had all but ruled out running for the Democratic nomination to challenge McConnell earlier in the summer. But McGrath’s entry into the race — especially her early hiccups — led him to reconsider.

Jones took issue with McGrath’s campaign after her campaign manager complained about his show in July, leading to his removal from the air. Jones has called the McGrath campaign’s complaint “vindictive” and “stupid.”

Should Jones get in the race, he’d face a Democratic primary against McGrath, who quickly raised millions after entering the race this summer.

“You’ve got to run against Mitch McConnell, Darth Vader, the second most powerful person in America, and before that I’m gonna have to beat the Democratic establishment that have all got behind Amy McGrath,” Jones said. “And I’m just a guy with a radio show.”