Beshear Had No Advance Knowledge Of Grimes Announcement

Jul 9, 2013

LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear acknowledged Tuesday he wasn't given a heads-up before fellow Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes announced her U.S. Senate bid last week, but said he didn't see the lack of a courtesy call or an invitation to the event as a slight.

Beshear told reporters it appeared the announcement's handling was a "quick decision" after Grimes had mulled over the race for some time. But the governor added, "I'm glad she's in this race" and pledged full support for her quest to unseat five-term Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in 2014.

"It is time to bring Mitch McConnell home," said Beshear, who lost a hard-fought Senate race to McConnell in the 1990s. "After 30 years of obstructionism ... we need somebody up there that's going to represent Kentucky."

Beshear, attending an announcement for a new distillery in downtown Louisville, was asked afterward about his absence from Grimes' news conference last week announcing her entry into the Senate race. Beshear, in his second term as governor, is the state's most prominent Democratic officeholder.

"We didn't know about it until she made the announcement," Beshear said. "So we didn't receive an invitation to be there, but that's not a negative to me. I'm sure that they were kind of working out all the details as they went along."

Beshear said he met with Grimes a few months ago while she was still pondering the race. He said he pledged his support at that time if she jumped in and would help her raise money to take on McConnell. Her opponent is known as a prolific fund-raiser and bare-knuckled campaigner.

"I'm going to be out there pitching," the governor said.

Grimes political adviser Jonathan Hurst said last week's announcement by Grimes, who is Kentucky's secretary of state, was only meant to make her political intentions known.

"Alison appreciates the governor's pledge of support and looks forward to working with him as she makes her formal filing and rollout later this month," he said.

Kentucky Republican Party spokeswoman Kelsey Cooper said Grimes' handling of the announcement shows she's "clearly not ready for primetime."

"She truly showed how incredibly unprepared she is for this race by forgetting to invite the Kentucky Democrats' most senior statewide elected official to her announcement," Cooper said.

Beshear and Grimes' father are former political rivals. And Grimes defeated the governor's appointee in winning election as secretary of state two years ago. Grimes received 61 percent of the vote when she was elected secretary of state. Her campaign included a folksy TV ad that featured her grandmothers.

Beshear defeated Grimes' father, Jerry Lundergan, when they ran against each years ago for a state legislative seat. Lundergan is a former Kentucky Democratic Party chairman with his own strong connections in Democratic circles.

"We ran against each other it seems like the last century, which it was, and I don't have any kind of hard feelings at all," Beshear said.

Beshear said he doesn't anticipate any other prominent Democrats entering next year's Senate race. Three longshot Democrats have declared their intentions to run.

"I think Alison will be our candidate," he said.

Grimes become the likely Democratic contender for McConnell's seat after actress Ashley Judd opted out of the race in March.

Defeating McConnell would be the Democrats' biggest prize in the 2014 election. He has been an outspoken critic of President Barack Obama.