FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin announced Friday that he will replace his trailblazing lieutenant governor, choosing to seek a second term with a Republican state senator who made history as the first Hispanic elected to the state legislature.
Lt. Gov. Jenean Hampton became the first black person ever elected to statewide office in Kentucky in 2015. Since then, she has had a small role in Bevin’s administration, traveling the state to meet with school groups while promoting entrepreneurship and science, technology, engineering and mathematics education for girls.
Friday, Bevin chose as his running mate state Sen. Ralph Alvarado, a medical doctor from central Kentucky who has had a short, but active, legislative career. In announcing his decision, Bevin noted Alvarado filed 18 bills in his second year in office, 11 of which passed.
“The reality is this is someone who moves with a sense of urgency that I think is needed as we look forward,” Bevin said.
Hampton had been lobbying Bevin for a spot on the ticket in 2019, telling the Bowling Green Daily News last week that she felt she has done “a fantastic job” and would “be a shoo-in.” But Bevin delayed filing for re-election, a sign he was searching for her replacement. Hampton did not return a phone call Friday.
Bevin called Hampton “an extraordinary lieutenant governor” and “a dear and personal friend.” He said he had a long conversation with her Friday. A Bevin spokesman confirmed Hampton will serve out the remainder of her term.
“Both of us individually and collectively have ideas about what the future looks like and things that each of us wants to do,” Bevin said. “What I want to see politically is that this continuation that I just talked about happens; that we continue to move forward.”
The Bevin-Alvarado ticket will face at least three challengers in the Republican primary, including state Rep. Robert Goforth, who criticized Bevin on Friday for dropping “his loyal Lieutenant Governor … for a running mate whose top goals for Kentucky are tort reform and charter schools.”
In the state Senate, Alvarado passed a law in 2017 to require a panel of doctors to review medical malpractice lawsuits before they go to trial. But the state Supreme court struck down that law last year.
“I think the vision (Bevin) has had in this state needs to be carried on and carried forward,” Alvarado said.
Bevin’s filing capped a busy day at the Capitol with a looming 4 p.m. Tuesday deadline to run for statewide office in 2019.
Kentucky state Sen. Whitney Westerfield withdrew from the attorney general’s race Friday morning. For a few hours, the decision seemed to give a clear path to the GOP nomination for Daniel Cameron, a lawyer who has never run for public office but spent two years in Washington helping McConnell confirm conservative federal judges.
But hours later, former prosecutor and GOP state Sen. Wil Schroder filed for the job, declaring he is the only candidate in the race “with a combination of prosecutorial experience and a conservative record.”
“This job is way too important for on-the-job training,” Schroder said.
Cameron, who has never been a prosecutor, said the job of Kentucky’s chief law enforcement officer “is larger than a particular past experience,” adding: “I think I bring a unique experience having worked as legal counsel to the majority leader of the U.S. Senate.”
Either candidate could face Democrat Greg Stumbo in the fall, who filed Friday in a bid to get his old job back. Stumbo held the office from 2004 to 2008. He is returning to Kentucky politics after losing his state House seat in 2016.
“Every election is different,” Stumbo said. “I’m hopeful the people of Kentucky will remember my message.”
Heather French Henry entered the political ring for the first time Friday by filing to run for Secretary of State. Crowned Miss America in 2000, Henry is former the commissioner for the Kentucky Department of Veterans Affairs. She is running as a Democrat in a state where Republicans have dominated statewide elections in recent years.
“I’m hoping that, even though it’s a partisan race, I’m able to run this office in a nonpartisan manner,” she said.
Henry will face public school teacher and small business owner Jason Griffith in the Democratic primary. Republicans who have filed for the race include Michael Adams, Andrew English and Carl “Trump” Nett, who says Trump is a nickname.