Rep. Rocky Adkins throws his hat in the 2019 governor's race ring.
And the race is on.
Last Wednesday, Rocky Adkins announced his intention to seek the Democratic nomination for governor. Adkins' ambition wasn't a well kept secret. For eyes that could see, ears that could hear and brains that could track his movements over the past year, Rep. Adkins has been laying the groundwork for a run.
Representative Adkins serves as minority leader in the Kentucky House. He represents the 99th District, the counties of Rowan, Lewis and Elliott. Adkins has been in the Legislature since 19877. Until 2016, Adkins was majority floor leader. The takeover of the House by Republicans put Adkins for the first time in his career in a minority position. Adkins won his seat again in the 2018 election and since the legislature isn't on the ballot in 2019, he won't have to give up his seat to run.
During the 2017 and 2018 sessions, Adkins and the Democrats watched as Republicans voted in right to work and repeal of prevailing wage laws. Organized labor was unable to stop their passage. Republicans angered thousands of teachers and public employees by attempts to rewrite state pensions. They also changed worker compensation rules and charter school legislation according to conservative orthodoxy.
None of these actions were enough to flip either the House, where there was some hope, or the Kentucky Senate, where there was little. The legislative and executive branches remain in Republican hands.
Governor Bevin seems to be the focus of voters' ire. In the most recent polls, Bevin is one of the most unpopular governors in America. Bevin has already announced his intention to run for a second term. It will be surprising if he has no primary challengers.
Adkins follows Attorney General Andy Beshear into the race. The candidates share leadership of the Democratic Party- a party that did poorly in Kentucky in November. As in other southern states, Democratic hopefuls fell short.
Amy McGrath, who gained national attention in her quest to unseat Rep. Andy Barr, lost to him by fewer than 10,000 votes in the 6th District, which includes Fayette County. McGrath's overwhelming win in Fayette wasn't enough to overcome losses in the more conservative, more rural counties that make up the 6th. The Sixth is arguably one of the two bluest districts in the state. Rep. John Yarmuth represents the other blue district centered in Jefferson County. He handily won another term.
Both Democratic candidates have chosen women educators for running mates. Jacqueline Coleman is running for lieutenant governor with Beshear. Adkins chose Stephanie Horne who currently serves on the Jefferson County School Board as his running mate.
Adkins will be back in the Purchase on Monday, November 19th in Paducah and Murray.
The campaign will be in Paducah at 10:00 at the Laborer's Union Hall located at 1415 S. 3rd Street, then in Murray at Pagliali's Restaurant at noon.
The primary is May 21, 2019. The deadline for filing to run in the primary is January 29, 2019. Other races on the ballot will be secretary of state, attorney general, treasurer, agriculture commissioner and auditor.
Kentucky is a closed primary state which means only registered party members can vote in their party's primaries. Independent and third party candidates will be on the ballot in November.
The general election is November 5, 2019.