WKYT | Lexington, Kentucky | News

Favored in primary, Lunsford Has Fall Baggage

FRANKFORT, KY -- Once reviled by some democrats for defecting to the Republican Party only to return and run for that party's nomination for the U. S. Senate, it now appears business tycoon Bruce Lunsford is the easy favorate to win the party nod but not without baggage, reports the Louisville Courier-Journal in its Sunday edition.

Bruce Lunsford ponders some of the words used to describe him by those who know him well.

Without hesitation, he rejects "brilliant," "tough" and "over-confident." He readily accepts "creative," "risk-taker," "driven," "hard-working" and "good salesman."

But he pauses over the assertion that he likes to have his own way. Three aides and colleagues clustered around a table at his campaign headquarters in Louisville's Highlands neighborhood chuckle quietly, reports the C-J.

"I'm enjoying your Q and A," Ed Hart, a longtime friend and business partner of Lunsford's, tells a reporter.

Lunsford isn't laughing, and the room falls silent. Finally, he responds: "I think the best way to put this is, I'm comfortable with my own decision-making. I believe in responsibility and accountability. I take both seriously."

The 60-year-old Lunsford is the overwhelming favorite to win Kentucky's Democratic primary election for U.S. Senate on May 20.

A Survey USA poll released two weeks ago showed him with support from 47 percent of those queried -- more than that of his six, largely unknown, opponents combined, the Courier-Journal reports.

The second-highest vote-getter in the poll was the "other" category, with 14 percent. No other candidate reached double digits.

Lunsford, who served in state government in the early 1980s and has made two unsuccessful runs for governor, has far more name recognition, national support and financial backing than any of his opponents, political analysts and others say.

But Louisville businessman Greg Fischer, who was favored by 9 percent of poll respondents and who is the only candidate in the Democratic primary except for Lunsford now running television ads, said in an interview that he discerns virtually no "grass-roots support" for Lunsford, reports the newspaper.

Many Democrats want a fresh face to compete against four-term Republican incumbent Mitch McConnell in November, Fischer said.

Lunsford isn't taking the primary election for granted but got into the race because he thinks that it's time to retire McConnell, said Allison Haley, his press secretary.

Of Lunsford's opponents in the primary, Haley said only that "it's great to see so many Democrats in the field." But she added that Lunsford's background and experience set him apart and make him "uniquely qualified" to serve in the Senate, the newspaper reports.

If Lunsford does prevail in the primary, his heady, front-runner days will grind to an abrupt halt as he seeks to dethrone McConnell -- the state's most powerful and influential politician, the Senate minority leader and a prodigious fund-raiser.

McConnell has only token opposition in the Republican primary and already has amassed more than $12 million in contributions, reports the C-J.

That figure is exceeded by only one candidate in the 35 Senate races being contested this year, according to data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan, Washington research group that tracks money in the political arena, reports the Louisville Courier-Journal.

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