Saying Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes isn’t speaking to progressives or their issues, Kentucky U.S. Senate candidate Ed Marksberry is dropping out of the primary to run as an independent.
Marksberry is an Owensboro building contractor who has been running a decidedly liberal campaign to take on Republican incumbent Mitch McConnell in next year’s election.
In a telephone interview with WFPL, Marksberry—who ran for Congress in 2012—says he plans to speak to the environment, poverty and gay rights in particular.
Marksberry says Grimes is a good Democrat, but she has given up the most important fights against McConnell to pander to special interests.
“I want to give empowerment back to those that are impoverished, back to those who understand what the environment is experiencing right now and back to those who created the middle-class,” says Marksberry. “And the only way to do that is to speak about the issues. And I hope that Alison Lundergan Grimes one day will open up and talk about the issues.”
Marksberry recently criticized Grimes for not standing up for Kentuckian’s health by supporting federal environmental regulations at coal-powered plants.
Part of Marksberry’s decision is based on an ongoing battle with the state party that has been brewing over the past few months.
Marksberry plans to drop that suit, but says the KDP leadership mishandled the situation and is pushing out progressive voices in the party.
“I think Grimes has had to take a conservative route for the campaign,” he says. “When I ran for Congress (the KDP) made me put out there I was a conservative Democrat, and I’m like ‘Well, I’m not.’ And they said you’ll never win and I allowed them to do that. Then I said, hold on a second. We’re not doing nothing but lying to people here.”
In order to be on the ballot, Marksberry must collect at least 5,000 signatures that must be submitted to the state board of elections by August 2014. He also has to change his party registration by Dec. 31.
The entry of Marksberry as an independent would change the dynamics of the early contest. Observers have already warned this could be a spoiler for Grimes by attracting liberal voters away from her in a 2014 contest.
“To those who think I’m a spoiler you have to ask yourself, what are you really trying to do here? Are you trying to make it a better place for everybody or are you just trying to get rid of McConnell at any cost? And if that’s what you’re doing then you’re no better than McConnell,” says Marksberry.