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Former Democratic State Auditor Adam Edelen Launches Bid For Ky. Governor

Jacob Ryan

Former State Auditor Adam Edelen is the third Democrat to launch a bid for Kentucky governor.

During an announcement in Lexington, Edelen said as governor he would focus on fixing the state’s public education system, protecting health coverage and generating new revenue for the state’s cash-strapped budget.

Edelen depicted himself as a new direction for Kentucky Democrats, saying that he is an alternative to “the stale scent of incrementalism and nostalgia.”

“Our broken politics want to convince you that the only alternative to the current dysfunction and division in Kentucky is dynasty. Folks, we are better than that,” Edelen said.

The other Democrats who have launched campaigns for governor are Attorney General Andy Beshear — son of former Gov. Steve Beshear — and Rocky Adkins, the leader of Democratic minority in the Kentucky House of Representatives who has served since 1987.

Edelen served as state auditor from 2012 until 2016 before he lost re-election to current Republican Auditor Mike Harmon. He also served as chief of staff to former Gov. Beshear from 2008 to 2010.

During the announcement on Monday, Edelen highlighted several progressive policies he would push for as governor, including legalizing medical marijuana and combating climate change.

“Speaking of difficult truths, let me say something that no candidate for Kentucky governor ever has, though every farmer and hunter knows it to be true. Climate change is real. And so are the thousands of jobs that can be created by fighting it,” Edelen said.

Edelen also committed to appointing women to at least half of the positions in his executive cabinet. None of the 12 cabinet secretaries in Gov. Matt Bevin’s cabinet are women.

Bevin has said he will run for governor, but hasn’t formally filed for re-election or committed to running with current Lieutenant Gov. Jenean Hampton.

Edelen’s running mate is Gill Holland, a Louisville-based developer and filmmaker. Holland has been a major donor to Democratic political efforts and is also a board member of Louisville Public Media, which is the parent organization of WFPL News.

The 2019 gubernatorial field could still change. The deadline for candidates to file is Jan 29.

Ryland Barton is the Managing Editor for Collaboratives. He's covered politics and state government for NPR member stations KWBU in Waco and KUT in Austin. He has a bachelor's degree from the University of Chicago and a master's degree in journalism from the University of Texas. He grew up in Lexington.

Email Ryland at
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