Politics
8:19 pm
Tue May 6, 2014

Jack Conway and Sannie Overly Offer Few Details In Gubernatorial Campaign Launch

Credit Jonathan Meador, Kentucky Public Radio

FRANKFORT—During their campaign's first press conference as a  gubernatorial ticket, Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway and his running mate, House Majority Caucus Chair Sannie Overly on Tuesday emphasized a focus on early childhood education.

That is,  they largely reiterated the content of a press release they sent out to media earlier in the day.

But the campaign offered a few new bits of information regarding a potential platform of issues, namely Conway's announcement that he would work to expand gambling  in the state, an issue that has perennially crashed and burned in the General Assembly for years. 

"I think it is a vote we need to have," Conway said of a statewide referendum on the issue. He added that disagreements over the issue between the horse industry and racetracks should be ironed out in advance of a legislative session.

He also name-dropped Ed Glasscock, one of the founding members of Kentucky Wins, a pro-gaming special interest group based in Louisville, in his comments on expanded gambling.  That group's board members are a veritable who's-who in Kentucky business and politics, including state Auditor Adam Edelen, who is a prospective gubernatorial candidate and an honorary co-chair for Kentucky Wins.

Glasscock is a chairman emeritus of the Louisville law firm Frost Brown Todd. He and that firm's partners have given over $35,000 to Conway during his political career, according to state campaign finance data compiled by the Sunlight Foundation. And the law firm of Lexington attorney Terry McBrayer, who also serves as a co-chair of Kentucky Wins, have given him over $53,000.

Conway also said he spoke with Alison Lundergan Grimes, the Secretary of State and presumptive Democratic U.S. Senate candidate, last week so as to not "step on her toes" regarding interfering with her ability to raise money among a similar pool of supporters in her race to unseat incumbent Republican U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell.

He also said he didn't think his decision to not appeal a federal ruling overturning portions of the state's ban on same-sex marriage would hurt his ticket's chances.

"I made that decision, and I've been very clear about my reasons for making that decision," he said. "But I think that in the fall of 2015, that Kentuckians are going to be concerned about jobs, they're going to be concerned about what the next governor's going to do in the area of education, they're going to be concerned about infrastructure, they're going to be concerned about what plan do you have to build Kentucky's future and to make life better for them? And I just do not think that will be in the issue of the day."

Nor did Overly think that the John Arnold sexual harassment scandal—which has provided Republicans with rhetorical ammo against House Democrats, and elicited criticism of her from some of Arnold's alleged victims—would negatively affect their effort.

"The John Arnold situation is one that is currently pending in the court system," Overly said. "We have a process in place, and that situation is going to move forward."

In the meantime, Overly said that her biggest priority will be on keeping the state House under Democratic control, where her party holds a slim lead over Republicans.