Your 2015 Kentucky Voter Guide: Down-Ballot Races
The race for governor has grabbed most of the attention in the state this campaign season, but there are competitive races all the way down the ballot (and in Louisville, a special Metro Council election and epic 21-candidate field for District Court judge).
Here's a look at the statewide offices on the ballot and the candidates seeking to occupy them.
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The Attorney General is the state’s chief law enforcement officer and also in charge of defending the state’s laws and representing the state in civil lawsuits that protect Kentucky consumers.
Republican State Sen. Whitney Westerfield is the chair of the Senate’s judiciary committee. Last year, he helped draft legislation designed to combat the state’s mounting heroin problem. Westerfield was instrumental in negotiating the final version of the bill, which included stiff drug possession penalties favored by Republicans as well as needle exchange and “good Samaritan” provisions favored by Democrats. Westerfield says as attorney general, he would fight against federal provisions like the Affordable Care Act and EPA regulations.
Democrat Andy Beshear is a lawyer with the Louisville firm Stites & Harbison and Gov. Steve Beshear’s son. He has experience working on complicated lawsuits involving governments and large businesses. According to his resume, he secured an $11.4 million verdict in favor of a truck-driver training school that sued the city of Hillview. Beshear says one of his top priorities will be to protect children from violence and abuse.
The state Auditor of Public Accounts is in charge of holding government accountable through financial audits, performance audits and other special examinations.
Democrat Adam Edelen is running for his second term in the office. During his first term, Edelen conducted several high-profile audits of public organizations. He most notably uncovered corruption in the office of former Agriculture Commissioner Richie Farmer and uncovered more than 3,000 untested rape kits in state law enforcement offices.
Republican Mike Harmon is a state representative from Danville. Harmon says he wants to conduct performance audits of the state’s retirement systems, which are underfunded and have been under scrutiny for high management fees.
Secretary of State
The Secretary of State is the state’s chief elections and business officer.
Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes is running for her second term in the office. During her first term, she implemented an online voter registration system for military and overseas Kentuckians. She also succeeded in passing an online voter registration system for in-state Kentuckians, which she says will be ready by the 2016 election.
Republican Steve Knipper served on the Erlanger City Council from 2010 until 2012. Knipper says he wants to develop niche markets for Kentucky businesses to export state products domestically and internationally. He says he also wants to lengthen the voter registration period, especially for voters who recently moved.
The Agriculture Commissioner manages the state’s agriculture marketing office as well as the consumer and environmental protection offices. The commissioner also administers Kentucky Proud, the state's official farm marketing program.
Republican Ryan Quarles is a state representative from Georgetown. Quarles says he would push for an urban agriculture program, expand agriculture education and fight federal regulations for Kentucky farms.
Jean-Marie Lawson Spann hosts an agriculture radio show. She says as agriculture commissioner, she would promote farm safety, agricultural education, and growing private partnerships with farmers.
The state Treasurer is a watchdog of the state’s finances, serving on the Kentucky Lottery board, the Kentucky Teachers Retirement System and the Kentucky Investment Commission.
Republican Allison Ball is a bankruptcy attorney from Prestonsburg. She says she would work to have more lottery proceeds go to higher education and to make the state’s finances more transparent.
Democratic Rep. Rick Nelson says as Treasurer, he would focus on financial literacy and money management for young people.