FRANKFORT — Incumbent Jack Conway was re-elected to another four-year term as the state’s attorney general on Tuesday, in a landslide victory, keeping the position for the Democratic Party for the past 63 years.
Conway had won the Democratic primary for U.S. senator on May 18, 2010, but was defeated in the general election that November against Republican Rand Paul. Conway confirmed he would be seeking a second term as Kentucky’s attorney general on Jan. 21, and he did not face any Democratic opponents in the May primary.
“You know we won this race because we focused together on what it means to be the attorney general of the commonwealth of Kentucky,” Conway said during his victory speech. “There were a lot of people in this campaign who wanted the opportunity to write my political obituary. I’m here tonight to tell you the reports of my demise are awfully premature.”
As of three weeks before the election, Conway had raised more money than Republican Todd P’Pool, even with P’Pool donating $250,000 of his own money to his campaign. Conway raised more than $817,000 since the May primary, while P’Pool raised $522,000.
Polls leading up the Tuesday’s election showed Conway had a firm lead on the challenger, by up to 20 percentage points. Conway will become the chairman of the Democratic Attorneys General Association and will create a national platform to fight issues, but he does not want to stray away from his Kentucky roots.
“As Kentucky attorney general, I’m going to continue to stand up for people who need someone to stand you for them,” Conway said. “I’m going to continue my efforts to go after the few, not all, of the for-profit colleges, that are more interested in getting their hands on federal student loan money than education.”
One of the issues Conway has pointed out to voters is how he has cut more than $4 million from his budget and reduced his staff by nearly 20 percent, from 237 to 190 employees currently.
Both candidates focused on the issue of fighting drugs across the commonwealth.
“I think people would be surprised at how aggressive Gov. Beshear and I will be with the prescription painkiller problem in this upcoming session of the General Assembly,” Conway said. “We are going to get entrepreneurs out of the pill-mill business. We want all 50 states to monitor their pills.”
One of the dividing issues of the race was Obamacare, and P’Pool has commented on Conway’s support of the legislation. P’Pool pledged to fight against the bill during his first month in office, if elected.
“I accepted the will of the voters a year ago, but what a difference a year makes,” Conway said. “What I tried to do in this election is to take the opportunity to tell the people of Kentucky about the job I’ve done as attorney general. I think by focusing on that here, I think the voters have rewarded me.”
Conway is a Louisville native who attended St. Xavier High School, then went on to graduate from Duke University and George Washington University, where he got his law degree. He served as an aide for former Gov. Paul Patton.
Conway began his political career in 2002, when he ran unsuccessfully against former U.S. Rep. Anne Northup. Afterward, he went to work for his father as a trial lawyer and returned to the political scene in 2007 when he was first elected attorney general.
Todd P’Pool conceded defeat to incumbent Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway at the Griffin Gate Marriot Tuesday night.
“I have contacted General Conway and offered concession,” P’Pool said. “I offered prayers to he and Elizabeth and wished them a successful term for the people of Kentucky.”
P’Pool’s attempt to federalize the state-wide election proved unsuccessful.
He used several prominent Republican figures in his campaign including former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.
P’Pool, the current Hopkins County Attorney, also campaigned against President Barack Obama’s health care bill, pledging to lead the state into the legal fight against the legislation.
“My eyes are firmly fixed on the horizon,” P’Pool said. “Meet me in this very room one year from tonight. Tomorrow the countdown begins to replace President Barack Obama.”
Although both campaigns resorted to personal attacks ads in the final days, Conway spent most of his time and money detailing his first-term accomplishments.
The P’Pool campaign boasted that the polls were tightening late in the race. They also were bolstered by the final week endorsement from Palin.
Many members of the UK College Republicans worked for P’Pool, and six members interned at Republican Victory Headquarters this semester.
Tatum Dale, public service and leadership senior, interned for the P’Pool campaign and is the UK College Republicans chairwoman.
“We have been all over the state making phone calls for Todd,” Dale said. “We have been the heart and soul of the grass-roots effort here in Kentucky.”
Brian Rose, a political science junior and chairman of the Kentucky Federation of College Republicans, said that P’Pool was a charismatic candidate.
He said they were always happy to help him, and that he was enthusiastic.
“College students were out talking about Todd more than anyone else,” Rose said.