Grimes, Johnson win secretary-of-state primaries
Secretary of State Elaine Walker, appointed as Kentucky’s chief elections officer in January, was denied a full term when Alison Lundergan Grimes won the Democratic nomination for the job Tuesday.
On the Republican side, Bill Johnson narrowly defeated Hilda Legg. The two candidates were separated by about 1,100 votes out of more than 131,000 cast. Johnson is a former Navy officer and BP executive who ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. Senate last year.
Grimes, a Lexington lawyer and the daughter of former state Democratic Party Chairman Jerry Lundergan, capitalized on her political connections to stake out a big fundraising advantage that overcame Walker’s abbreviated incumbency.
“We were more than just lines on a resumé,” Grimes said in a phone interview. “We were a campaign that was about a vision ... and a plan on how we’re going to move the office of secretary of state forward.”
Walker, former mayor of Bowling Green, was appointed to the post by Gov. Steve Beshear when Republican incumbent Trey Grayson resigned to become director of Harvard’s Institute of Politics. Walker said Tuesday night she entered office as a relative unknown statewide.
“We had very little time to run a campaign,” she said.
Walker said she had no regrets about taking the job she’ll keep for several more months.
She said she still has work to accomplish as secretary of state, including implementing a one-stop website for businesses to file government paperwork. Undaunted by her setback, Walker said there’s a good chance she’ll run for political office again.
With 100 percent of precincts reporting, Grimes had 85,563, or 55 percent of the vote, to Walker’s 69,077, or 45 percent.
Johnson said late Tuesday that he had not spoken with Legg, but that she left him a voice mail indicating she would wait until Wednesday before commenting on the outcome. Johnson said he was confident his lead would hold.
Legg’s campaign did not immediately return calls seeking comment.
With 100 percent of precincts reporting, Johnson had 66,429, or 50.4 percent of the vote, to Legg’s 65,332, or 49.6 percent.
In Kentucky, candidates can ask for a recanvass, which essentially involves double-checking math and looking for human errors in data entry. Counties pick up the minimal expense of a recanvass, which isn’t the same as a recount. Recounts are done only on the order of a judge, and the candidate requesting the recount has to pay the costs.
Grimes also carried Jessamine County, besting Walker by a 884 to 598 vote count.
Comer, Farmer win ag-commissioner primaries
Traveling entertainer and political newcomer Bob Farmer emerged from a five-way primary on Tuesday to become the Democratic candidate for Kentucky agriculture commissioner.
With 100 percent of precincts reporting, Farmer had 45,666 votes, or 30 percent, to John Lackey’s 31,560, or 21 percent.
Farmer hopes to succeed another Farmer, outgoing Agriculture Commissioner Richie Farmer, a former Kentucky basketball standout who is running for lieutenant governor alongside Republican gubernatorial nominee David Williams. The two are not related.
“As you can see, that newcomer business didn’t hurt me at all,” Farmer said Tuesday night.
State lawmaker James Comer won the Republican primary. With 100 percent of precincts reporting, Comer had 86,527 votes, or 67 percent, to Shelby County Judge-executive Rob Rothenburger’s 43,142 votes, or 33 percent.
Comer of Tompkinsville has held his state House seat representing south central Kentucky since 2001. He raised about $200,000 for the primary but has spent about half that total.
“We had a great organization from day one and came out of the gate with a lot of momentum,” Comer said Tuesday night after securing the nomination. Comer said Kentuckians want “conservative leadership” in the ag commissioner’s office.