FRANKFORT — State Sen. Whitney Westerfield, R-Hopkinsville, filed Friday to run for Kentucky attorney general.
He immediately challenged Democratic contender Andrew Beshear, son of Gov. Steve Beshear, to disclose what clients Andrew Beshear has represented as a defense attorney before the attorney general's office.
Westerfield, 34, an attorney, is the first Republican to file to run this year to be the state's chief law enforcement official. The position is now held by Democrat Jack Conway, who is running for governor.
Westerfield, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, was elected to the Senate in 2012 and served about five years as assistant commonwealth's attorney in Christian County.
Andrew Beshear is the only Democrat seeking the office so far and has already amassed about $1.5 million for the race.
In an email, Andrew Beshear said he entered the race to help deal with the state's "chronic and epidemic problems with child abuse and drug abuse, and to better protect our seniors in this digital age. That's what I am and will remain focused on."
Westerfield said he had talked to U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Louisville, about running for attorney general. McConnell said in an email that Westerfield "will stand for the rule of law for all Kentuckians, and will help push back against overreach from the Obama administration."
The Herald-Leader reported last month that Beshear, as an attorney with the Louisville office of the law firm Stites & Harbison, touts himself as a defense attorney for companies that have had conflicts with the attorney general's office.
Beshear has declined to discuss his legal work or identify any of the clients he has represented before the attorney general, saying he could run afoul of Kentucky Supreme Court rules if he did so.
"Transparency is important," said Westerfield in urging Beshear to release the names of the clients. Westerfield said he represents no clients with business before the state.
Westerfield also said Conway should have defended in federal court a state law that forbids gay marriages. Conway declined to do so, but Gov. Beshear hired private attorneys to represent the state.
The filing deadline to run for this year's state constitutional offices is 4 p.m. Jan. 27.