The 95th state representative district won't be awarded to a lone candidate by default after Monday's declaration for candidacy by former Attorney General Greg Stumbo made a contest out of the May primary, and Republican Larry Brown followed soon after to ensure a race in November. Stumbo is currently the Democratic nominee for the Feb. 5 special election to fill a vacancy that was created when James Brandon Spencer resigned his House seat in December. “I am really enjoying reconnecting with all my friends and neighbors,” said Stumbo in a released statement. “My friends and large family are working hard. We are not going to take anything for granted.” Prior to his time as attorney general, Stumbo represented the 95th District for over 20 years, and served as majority floor leader for most of that time. Stumbo acknowledged rumors that he would be called again to leadership, though he admits that such speculation is “premature.” Stumbo says he is campaigning hard for next week's special election, and is already gearing up for the May primary. “Most importantly, we are praying for good weather for next week's special election.” While in Frankfort, Stumbo also filed an initial campaign fundraising report which revealed that he has raised $101,600. Earlier this month, Stumbo defeated his primary opponent, former Rep. Charles “Chuck” Meade, in a rout for the Democratic nomination. The victory was nearly 20-to-1 in favor of Stumbo over Meade. After the nomination, Meade had said he did not believe the results were indicative of the true feelings of the people of the 95th District, and says he expects a different outcome “when the people are allowed to cast their votes behind a curtain.” “I'm offering them (the people) a chance for change and hoping they will move away from the same old politics,” said Meade in a released statement on Tuesday. Meade continued saying, “I'm putting my full trust in the people of this county and I hope they can clearly see that this office is my first choice and Stumbo's last. Unlike my opponent, this is not a position I want for self-interest or personal gains.” “I've seen what kind of friend he has been to me and my family and that is the same kind of friend he has been to Floyd County - no friend at all,” Meade said. “It is the people's seat, not Greg Stumbo's seat and I want to be the people's candidate and I ask for their vote and support.” But before the May showdown, the former attorney general must first face his Republican counterpart in next week's election, Larry D. Brown, former Prestonsburg City Attorney, who has also filed to take part in the general election. Brown could not be reached for comment. An official at Brown's law office said he had left for Frankfort early Tuesday morning to file his official declaration of candidacy. In and email to the Times news desk, Brown lists his top three priorities, should he be elected representative as, “preventing casino gambling, making health insurance competitive again and reducing the cost and size of government.” The special election will also feature a third candidate, Eddie Meade - Chuck Meade's father - who announced shortly after the Democratic and Republican nominations that he would run as a write-in candidate. “I think I can make a better difference in the time left than Stumbo or Brown,” Meade said when announcing his candidacy. After filing as a write-in candidate, Meade said that he would run in the May primary if he won, though Meade's name was absent from the roster of candidates provided by the Secretary of State when the deadline to file expired yesterday afternoon. “I decided to just pursue the unexpired term,” Meade said when asked why he did not file for the regular election. “I have no desire to be a career politician.” Meade said that he entered the special election largely to speak against the issue of casino gambling. He said that neither Brown or Stumbo would meet him in a debate. When asked about the possible benefits to Floyd County of a casino coming to Thunder Ridge, Meade said it would take more money out of the county than it brought in, and that it would take food out of children's mouths. Meade added, “Most of Floyd county doesn't know where Thunder Ridge is.” In an interview Tuesday afternoon, Stumbo illustrated his position on the possibility of casino gambling. “Personally, as a citizen, I do not favor a casino in Floyd County, and I would only support the measure if there was a local referendum.” If an amendment is approved, as a practical matter, he believes it is “very unlikely” that a casino would come to Floyd County. With the possible exception being Lexington, Stumbo says that border cities which sit on interstate highways such as Ashland and Bowling Green would be the logical choices in which to build casinos. “I do believe in the people's right to vote on an amendment to the Constitution,” said Stumbo. “That is something I have supported my whole career. The people have a right to be heard.” The legalization of casino gambling would require an amendment to the Kentucky Constitution, which requires a statewide vote. Stumbo likened it to 1988's lottery amendment, where over a million Kentuckians turned out to vote on the lottery referendum. The measure passed with 60 percent of the votes in favor of creating a lottery. Stumbo said that in the event of an amendment on casino gambling, it is important that voters know exactly what they are voting on, “how many licenses, where will they (the casinos) be, will there be local referendums.” While much has been made of the possibility of casino gambling coming to Kentucky, Stumbo did say, “The governor's bill has not been filed yet,” adding that it is hard to speak on legislation that is yet to be filed. As the only Republican candidate to file for the regular election, Brown will meet the winner of the Meade-Stumbo Democratic primary in the November general election. According to Mary Sue Helm, election administrator for the Secretary of State, “Kentucky does not permit write-in candidates in a primary election.” However, Helm added, “Anyone can run as a write-in candidate in the November general elections, provided that person meets all the qualifications.” In other local elections, Hubert Collins of the 97th house district will be unopposed in 2008, while state Sen. Johnny Ray Turner will be facing a familiar opponent in his bid for reelection. Eric Shane Hamilton, who lost to Turner four years ago by a scant 24 votes, will challenge Turner in the Democratic primary. No Republican filed for the seat. In other races, the U.S. Senate race has attracted interest from many, leading to a large field seeking to challenge incumbent Sen. Mitch McConnell. In all, eight Democrats have lined up for the May primary, including millionaire businessman and former gubernatorial candidate Bruce Lunsford, who waged an unsuccessful campaign for governor last year with former Attorney General Greg Stumbo as his running mate. Others seeking the Democratic nomination in the U.S. Senate race include: n Michael Cassaro, of Prospect. n Greg Fischer, of Louisville. n Andrew Horne, of Louisville. n James E. Rice, of Campbellsville. n Kenneth Stepp, of Manchester. n David L. Williams, of Glasgow. n David Wylie, of Harrodsburg. On the Republican side, McConnell will be challenged by Daniel Essek, who lists his address as a post office box in Jellico, Tenn. In the race for 5th District congressman, no one from either party filed to challenge Rep. Hal Rogers. Nine names will appear on the ballot for president. Democrats seeking the presidency include Hillary Clinton, John Edwards and Barack Obama. Republicans seeking the nomination include Rudolph W. Giuliani, Mike Huckabee, Alan Keyes, John McCain, Ron Paul and Mitt Romney.
Managing Editor Ralph B. Davis contributed to this report.