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Championing Youth Vote, Grimes Contemplates Run For Governor

Josh James
Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes (D) meets with Gabriella Epley (center) and Eli Dreyer, who led voter registration efforts at Lexington's Lafayette Senior High School, on May 30, 2018.

Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes is sounding more like a candidate for governor in 2019. The Democrat says she’s paying attention to those encouraging her to run.

Asked about a potential campaign for the top executive post at an event honoring voter registration efforts at Lafayette Senior High School in Lexington Wednesday, Grimes responded, "I'm considering it, and most importantly, just listening to the enocuragement that's out there and the concerns that people have right now."

After presenting the school with the Georgia Davis Powers Award for adding 100 percent of its eligible students to the voter rolls, the chief state election official noted that 18- to 25-year-olds account for more than half of newly registered Kentucky voters since the 2016 presidential election. In an interview with WUKY, Grimes said those fresh voices need a champion in Frankfort, which has weathered intense protests this year over teacher pension reforms and education cuts.

"I hope there is a future for us, and there is that encouragement there," Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes said.

"There are all these young people out there that are counting on somebody to fight for them, and most importantly, fight for education and the place that it should have," the secretary added.

Lafayette student Eli Dreyer, one of the leaders behind the school's perfect sign-up drive, told reporters his generation is gearing up to flex its political muscle.

"As of now, we outnumber the baby boomers," he noted. "We can actually make a real impact, and a lot of these people aren't happy with what's happening in Washington, what's happening locally, and really the biggest way to change that is by going out to vote." 

Credit Josh James / WUKY
Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes (D) congratulates soon-to-be Lafayette Senior High School graduates on their perfect voter registration numbers on May 30, 2018.

Yet voter apathy remained on full display in the recent primary elections, which fell short of the secretary's optimistic 30 percent turnout projection, luring just 1 in 4 voters to the polls despite some high-profile contests, including a matchup between Lexington Mayor Jim Gray and retired fighter pilot Amy McGrath in the state's sixth congressional district.

A gubernatorial run would dovetail with the end of Grimes’ term-limited tenure in the secretary of state’s office in 2019.

Lafayette Senior High School students react to the Georgia Davis Powers Award.

The 39-year-old former Lexington attorney ran a fiery but ill-fated bid to unseat Sen. Mitch McConnell in 2015, losing by a 16-point margin. But in a possible matchup with Gov. Matt Bevin, the Democrat could face an opponent whose popularity has taken a hit in recent months, according to one Western Kentucky University poll.

Grimes joins Attorney General Andy Beshear, House Minority Floor Leader Rocky Adkins, and several others floated as possible candidates for governor next year. Bevin has not indicated whether he will seek re-election.

Josh James fell in love with college radio at Western Kentucky University's student station, New Rock 92 (now Revolution 91.7). After working as a DJ and program director, he knew he wanted to come home to Lexington and try his hand in public radio.
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