Glasgow Daily Times, Glasgow, KY

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June 18, 2014

RONNIE ELLIS: Edelen opts to run again for state auditor, not governor

FRANKFORT — Democrat Adam Edelen announced Wednesday he won’t run for governor next year and will instead seek re-election to a second term as state Auditor of Public Accounts.

Edelen, 39, is a former chief of staff to Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear who is ineligible to seek a third term. His decision leaves Democratic Attorney General Jack Conway as the only announced Democratic candidate for governor so far and a clear favorite for his party’s nomination next spring.

Louisville businessman Hal Heiner has announced he is running for the Republican nomination for governor next year while Republican Commissioner James Comer is also expected to throw his hat in the ring later this year.

Word had circulated recently that Edelen was considering bypassing the race because of family considerations. He’s married and has 8-year-old twin sons from a previous marriage.

“The reality is that campaign would require difficult sacrifices of my family and from my work as Auditor,” said Edelen in a statement released by his press secretary. “These are sacrifices I’m unwilling to make at this time.”

He didn’t rule out a future run for the state’s highest office.

Edelen said recently that he had organized a campaign structure, including an unnamed running mate for lieutenant governor which is a legal requirement to begin raising and spending money on a governor’s race in Kentucky.

“I greatly appreciate the expressions of encouragement and support from across the Commonwealth as I explored a race for governor,” Edelen said. “Those well-wishes mean more than I can ever express.”

But that encouragement wasn’t enough to overcome his concerns about the time away from his sons and family during a grueling, year-long campaign and, should he be elected, potentially eight years in the governor’s office.

Edelen, originally from Meade County, is an effective retail campaigner who was seen by some Republicans as a formidable potential opponent. But Conway has already formed a ticket with state Rep. Sannie Overly, D-Paris, and has begun raising money.

Conway enjoys high name recognition, having run three statewide races previously: two successful campaigns for Attorney General and an unsuccessful 2010 U.S. Senate race ultimately won by Republican Rand Paul.

Like Conway, Edelen began his government career working for former Gov. Paul Patton and the two share several common political allies who likely would be torn if Conway and Edelen were pitted against the other in 2015.

Conway released the following statement upon learning of Edelen’s announcement: “Adam has been a long-time friend. He’s a fine and dedicated public servant and has a very bright future.”

Others reportedly at least considering the race are former state Senator and Lt. Gov. Daniel Mongiardo who also lost a U.S. Senate race, in 2004 to then incumbent Republican Jim Bunning; former Attorney General and U.S. Congressman Ben Chandler; Democratic House Speaker Greg Stumbo; and Lexington banker Luther Deaton.

In addition to Heiner and Comer on the Republican side, former U.S. Ambassador to Latvia Cathy Bailey has indicted interest in the race.

Edelen said he enjoys being auditor and still has goals to accomplish in his current position.

Auditor hasn’t always been considered a promising stepping-stone to the governor’s mansion, but Edelen’s predecessor Crit Luallen turned the office into a high-profile watchdog by exposing questionable spending and management practices at several government and quasi-government agencies.

Edelen said he’s broken new ground by examining several public school systems, including one investigation that led to the resignation and subsequent indictment of a superintendent. He just completed a high-profile examination of the Jefferson County Public Schools, the state’s largest school district and had held off announcing his future plans until that was completed.

“From ferreting out waste and holding corrupt public officials accountable, to the work of making our schools run for the benefit of our children and taxpayers, to ensuring privacy protections in the digital age, I’m proud of what has been accomplished,” said Edelen. “I look forward to asking the people of Kentucky for a mandate to continue this important, bi-partisan work” in next year’s election.

RONNIE ELLIS writes for CNHI News Service and is based in Frankfort. Reach him at Follow CNHI News Service stories on Twitter at

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