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    Need to cram before Election Day next month? Brush up on the major contenders for state office in this candidate guide.

     

    GOVERNOR (AND LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR) — The Mean Dad vs. The Boring Uncle

    What is this office? The governor is the chief executive of the commonwealth and the lieutenant governor is, well, his lieutenant.

    Who’s in office? Republican Matt Bevin, the deeply conservative and deeply unpopular millionaire businessman who has spent four years picking fights with everyone from teachers to Jenean Hampton, his own lieutenant governor.

    Who wants to be in office? Bevin’s after a second term, but he has dropped Hampton for Ralph Alvarado, a state senator and physician who, in 2014, became the first Latino elected to the Kentucky General Assembly. On the Democratic side is Andy Beshear, the son of former Gov. Steve Beshear. Andy Beshear has used his position as attorney general to repeatedly take Bevin to court. His running mate is Jacqueline Coleman, a public educator apparently looking for a less stressful job.

     

    ATTORNEY GENERAL — The Boomer vs. The Millennial

    What is this office? The attorney general is responsible for ensuring that the government acts legally and according to Kentucky’s constitution, while figuring out which office to run for next.

    Who’s in office? Though “in” might not be entirely accurate since he’s largely on the campaign trail, it’s Andy Beshear.

    Who wants to be in office? It’s a generational battle for Kentucky’s top law enforcement official, and it’s been ugly. Democrat Greg Stumbo, who held the job from 2004 to 2008, is hoping to reclaim the post while beating back attacks about his family. Republican Daniel Cameron, a Trump-endorsed Mitch McConnell protégé and the only African-American on the ballot, is arguing for a new generation of leaders and accusing Democrats of racist attacks.

     

    SECRETARY OF STATE — The Beauty Queen vs. Not the Beauty Queen

    What is this office? The secretary of state serves as Kentucky’s chief election monitor and oversees state business filings.

    Who’s in office? Alison Lundergan Grimes, the one-time McConnell opponent and magnet for controversy. She’s being driven from office not by her many Republican detractors but by term limits.

    Who wants to be in office? Twenty years after she was named Miss America, Democrat and veterans’ advocate Heather French Henry is vying for this slightly less glamorous role. Standing in her way is Michael G. Adams, a Republican election lawyer who may soon have something in common with every other woman who tried to be Miss America 2000.

     

    AUDITOR — The Rural Insurance Agent vs. The City Cyber Expert

    What is this office? The auditor conducts oversight on the expenditure of public money.

    Who’s in office? Republican Mike Harmon, a persistent candidate who lost two races for state house before winning in 2002. He served over a decade in the General Assembly, losing a bid for lieutenant governor in 2011 before winning the auditor’s seat in 2015.

    Who wants to be in office? Harmon, an insurance agent from Danville, is running for re-election against Democrat Sheri Donahue, a cyber-security expert and engineer from Louisville who is no stranger to defeat. She lost a state senate bid last year.

     

    TREASURER — The Lawyer vs. The Banker

    What is this office? The treasurer handles unclaimed property and sits on several state boards, tasks that are so duplicative that in 2014 Republicans tried to eliminate the job.

    Who’s in office? Allison Ball, a Prestonsburg bankruptcy attorney who started a business selling pencils when she was nine.

    Who wants to be in office? Ball is shooting for a second term and her opponent is Democrat Michael Bowman, a Louisville bank manager who previously served as a Metro Council legislative assistant.

     

    AGRICULTURE COMMISSIONER — The Farm Kid vs. The Farmer

    What is this office? The agriculture commissioner promotes Kentucky-grown products, but that’s not all. The department’s weights-and-measures branch is also tasked with regulating the marketplace on everything from roller coasters to gas pumps.

    Who’s in office? Republican Ryan Quarles, a former state representative who, at 32, became the youngest elected statewide official in the nation upon his 2016 swearing in.

    Who wants to be in office? Quarles is running for a second term. His challenger is eighth-generation farmer and former school board member Robert Conway, a Democrat who, Quarles has said, consistently compliments him on what a good job he’s doing.

     

    This originally appeared in the October 2019 issue of Louisville Magazine under the headline “In This Corner...” To subscribe to Louisville Magazineclick here. To find us on newsstands, click here.

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