Grimes and Rep. Fred Nesler chatting with a voter.
Alison Lundergan Grimes learned politics with her phonics. The middle child in a family of five girls remembers reading voter lists as a small child. Her father, Jerry Lundergan, is a former Lexington House representative. Her mother is a state Democratic Committee member.
Grimes is running against former Bowling Green mayor Elaine Walker to be the Democratic nominee for the office of Kentucky Secretary of State. Whoever wins the nomination will face either Hilda Legg of Somerset or Bill Johnson of Todd County. This is her first run for public office.
Grimes is an attorney with the Lexington firm of Stoll, Keenon & Ogden. Grimes practices business law and has regular contact with the Secretary of State’s office for her clients. She is taking a leave of absence from her practice to run for office.
We met Grimes on a campaign swing through West Kentucky.She told us that the Secretary of State’s office needs an attorney to run it because the business and legal issues involved. She is looking forward to implementing the “one stop shop” concept passed by the 2011 General Assembly.
Grimes believes it is time for her generation of young politicians to move into the public arena. Grimes and fellow Democrat Adam Edelen, who is running for state auditor, are among the younger candidates on the ballot this year.
“It will simplify doing business in Kentucky. The Secretary of State’s Office will be the one place business will go.” She said.
The Secretary of State has responsibility for running elections. Grimes wants to make it easier for deployed soldiers to cast their ballots and have them counted in a timely manner. Getting absentee ballots for soldiers will become easier.
One of the issues that GOP candidates agree on is the need for stricter voter identification. Currently, potential voters can be identified in one of three ways: personal recognition by a precinct worker, driver’s license or personal identification card or a credit card showing the voter’s name. When asked her stance on requiring each voter to produce a picture ID, Grimes said that she is not in favor of placing barriers to voting, but in encouraging voters.
Grimes told us she wants to assist victims of domestic violence by allowing them to use the secretary of state’s office as their home address. Voter addresses are public record. Using the government address will maintain secrecy for victims intent on escaping their abusers.
Alison Lundergan Grimes began last Wednesday in Murray at a breakfast attended by seventy. She moved on to lunch with public officials and well wishers in Mayfield and ended the day at a reception sponsored by the Graves County Democratic Women’s Club. She would finish up her “Ready to Listen Tour” in Paducah the next day.
When asked if this was her first trip to West Kentucky, Grimes assured us it was not and she would be back. “We know where West Kentucky is.”
Grimes’ father has connections across the Commonwealth. Her father, Jerry, touring with her, is an old hand at campaigning. He served as Hillary Clinton’s campaign chair in her presidential bid. Clinton may have lost to Barack Obama nationally, but she won Kentucky by 35 percentage points.
Alison Lundergan Grimes has picked up endorsements from popular figures in West Kentucky like former governor Julian Carroll and Lt. Governor Dan Mongiardo. Former Miss America Heather French Henry and Mayor Jim Gray of Lexington have also endorsed Grimes.
One endorsement she won’t be seeking – or getting – is from Governor Steve Beshear. He appointed her primary opponent to fill the term left open by Trey Grayson’s departure. Insiders wondered if Beshear’s choice of the Mayor of Bowling Green to take over Grayson’s seat was a wise choice for Democrats. Walker’s appointment not only left Bowling Green open to further GOP inroads, but her post as Chair of the Board of the Kentucky League of Cities was filled by Paducah’s Republican Mayor Bill Paxton.
Beshear also risks making a formidable political enemy in Jerry Lundergan. Politics may be just politics – but this is Jerry’s daughter and Beshear’s appointment makes it harder for her to win the nomination.
Grimes seems unfazed by it all. She is doing what a good politician does – meeting, greeting and talking, talking, talking. She plans to be in every county and vows to be back in West Kentucky in May.
She's doing all the right things to win in a primary with a historically low Democratic turnout predicted.