Politics & Government

Cameron and Stumbo battling for cash in KY attorney general’s race. Cameron has more.

Republican Daniel Cameron holds a substantial lead in campaign fundraising over Democrat Greg Stumbo in their closely watched race for Kentucky attorney general.

The latest campaign finance reports filed by the candidates with the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance show Cameron, a Louisville attorney who is making his first bid for public office, more than doubling money raised by Stumbo of Prestonsburg, who held the office from 2004 to 2008 and is a former speaker of the state House.

As of Sept. 6, Cameron’s campaign had raised $569,197 compared to $227,915 for Stumbo.

Stumbo had spent $140,036 and showed an ending balance of $240,015. He started the fall campaign with more than $152,000 left over from his spring primary campaign, where he was unopposed.

Cameron reported spending $88,718 with a balance of $480,476..

Even though Cameron is a political newcomer, he has “an enormous advantage” over Stumbo in attracting campaign funds because he is “backed by the people in power and they can steer a lot of money his way — money to his campaign and money spent by outside groups on him,” said political consultant Danny Briscoe of Louisville.

Cameron has the support of U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Louisville and Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin. Cameron provided legal counsel for McConnell in Washington.

Briscoe said he heard early in this race that “Republicans will raise whatever it takes to be sure Stumbo is not attorney general again.”

As the state’s chief law enforcement official, Stumbo headed an investigation into the hiring practices of Republican Gov. Ernie Fletcher which resulted in the indictment of Fletcher and many of his aides. The governor pardoned his aides and the charges against him were dismissed by agreement with prosecutors.

The race between Stumbo and Cameron has been nasty.

It took another turn Tuesday when Joseph L. Jackson, a retired union member from Louisville, filed a lawsuit in Jefferson Circuit Court, claiming Cameron’s name should be removed from the Nov. 5 election ballot because he does not have the eight years of experience as a “practicing attorney” the Kentucky Constitution requires for the office.

The Cameron campaign said he is legally qualified and blamed Stumbo for the lawsuit. Stumbo said he did not file the suit but considers it a legitimate question for the courts to decide.

“The voters are tired of Greg Stumbo and his brand of politics,” said Nicholas Weinstein, Cameron’s campaign manager. “They want someone who will move past the petty politics of the past and are ready for an attorney general who will represent them with integrity and respect for their values.”

Stumbo expressed confidence that his campaign will have enough money and criticized Cameron’s campaign funding.

“We have not accepted the blood money from opioid manufacturers and distributors like my opponent has, and I call on him to return that money.,” Stumbo said.

He claimed that drug maker Purdue Pharma “alone donated half a million to my opponent’s campaign all while Kentuckians are hurting directly at their hands.”

Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin, and other pharmacy companies have not donated directly to Cameron, but they have given to the Republican Attorneys General Association.

The Herald-Leader reported earlier this month that the Republican group is spending $3.25 million for television advertisements in Kentucky.

NBC News reported Sept. 10 that both the Republican Attorneys General Association and the Democratic Attorneys General Association have hundreds of thousands of dollars from drug manufacturers. It said RAGA got $385,000 from them in the first six months of 2019 and DAGA got $365,000.

Cameron said his campaign has no coordination with these outside groups, that it has never accepted money from opioid manufacturers or distributors, and that he will go after drug manufacturers who have caused problems in Kentucky.

Stumbo said he told DAGA “that I would not allow any drug money to be used for my campaign. He (Cameron) could have done similarly and instructed them to not take that money, yet he did not.”

Contributors to Cameron’s campaign included $1,000 from Terry Carmack, McConnell’s state director, and $250 from Blake Brickman, Bevin’s chief of staff.

Stumbo’s contributors included $1,000 from Covington Mayor Joe Meyer and $2,000 each from Kentucky Educator’s PAC and Better Schools Kentucky PAC.

The latest campaign finance reports showed Stumbo received $24,800 from political action committees and Cameron $47,500.

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Jack Brammer is Frankfort bureau chief for the Lexington Herald-Leader. He has covered politics and government in Kentucky since 1978. He has a Master’s in communications from the University of Kentucky and is a native of Maysville, Ky.