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Drew Curtis Expects His Bid For Governor To Get a Surge In Support

Drew Curtis
Jacob Ryan
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Drew Curtis

Independent gubernatorial candidate Drew Curtis says he’s expecting a surge of voter support before the next statewide poll is released on Sept. 30.

In a Bluegrass Poll conducted in late July, Curtis drew support from 8 percent of expected voters, well behind Democrat Jack Conway (43 percent) and Republican Matt Bevin (38 percent). But Curtis appeared in the gubernatorial election's first televised debate on Tuesday with the major party candidates, potentially introducing him to an electorate that was unaware of his bid.

During a WFPL News Special on Thursday, Curtis acknowledged that some Kentuckians are worried that voting for him would only spoil the electoral hopes of the two other candidates.

“I don’t think anybody’s voting for their candidate for any other reason, honestly,” Curtis said. “I have yet to hear, ‘I like my candidate more than you.’"

He said voters are dissatisfied with the two major party candidates.

"I would recommend that you choose your vote not out of fear, but pick the best candidate, and just assert your authority as a voter, and just do it," Curtis said.

When the next poll is released at the end of the month, Curtis might not show an all-out surge, but he would likely enjoy a healthy bounce in support, said Steve Voss, a political science professor at the University of Kentucky.

"Now that he's shown he can hold his own on stage with two major-party candidates, he's starting to get positive spinoff news coverage in Louisville and Lexington," Voss said. "A genuine, problem-solving moderate platform can pull in voters disaffected with partisan conflict."

Curtis is a tech entrepreneur based in Lexington. He is the founder of Fark.com, a news aggregation website, and also started Frankfort’s first dial-up Internet service provider, Digital Crescent, in 1996.

Voss said Wednesday evening's debate allowed Curtis to show that he isn't the next Gatewood Galbraith -- the late perennial candidate known for his quips but generally perceived as not a serious contender. Instead, Curtis is trying to pull in voters tired of partisan conflict.

On Wednesday, Curtis spoke in detail of his plans to address Kentucky's struggles with its pensions for public employees. He said he wants the state to open a line of credit, to be drawn from as needed, to cover pension payouts. That approach, he said, would be more effective to address the pension systems' issues.

Curtis also said he would support charter schools if a plan could be drawn up that didn't pull funding from standard public schools. And he said he would support restoring voting rights to ex-felons.

"He's offering himself to voters as a practical manager unclouded by partisanship, who has the technical skills and connections to make things better for the state," Voss said.

Ryland Barton is the Managing Editor for Collaboratives. Email Ryland at rbarton@lpm.org.