Bunning Tells KY GOP Leaders He'll Need $10 Mill For Re-election

FRANKFORT — Republican U.S. Sen. Jim Bunning warned GOP activists Saturday that he'll soon need help amassing at least $10 million to fund his campaign for a third term, which he expects will draw fierce Democratic opposition, reports the Lexington Herald-Leader in its Sunday edition.

Then he laid down the gauntlet to any would-be Democratic challengers. "I'm telling you right now, we're going to kick butt in 2010," said Bunning, the Hall of Fame pitcher and two-term senator who hails from Northern Kentucky, reports veteran Herald-Leader political writer Ryan Alessi

His comments come as both parties take a deep breath after Tuesday's election and begin looking to the next cycle in 2010, when Bunning's Senate seat will be the top prize in Kentucky.

Already, a host of high-ranking Democratic officials are being mentioned as potential contenders. Bunning knows they're gunning for him, and says he's ready.

Speaking to the Kentucky Republican Party's state central committee members, Bunning praised the state GOP's performance in re-electing U.S. Senate leader Mitch McConnell Tuesday, and said the same level of commitment will be necessary for his race, reports the Herald-Leader.

"I want to make sure you understand something else: 2010 is not far off," he said. "There are no races in 2009, so you get a year off. But that doesn't mean I won't be knocking on your door, because it takes a minimum now of about $10 million to run a race for the U.S. Senate." "I'm sorry, I didn't make the rules," he added, prompting laughs.

This fall's Senate race between McConnell and Democrat Bruce Lunsford — a Louisville businessman who bankrolled much of his campaign — set the record for the most expensive political campaign in Kentucky history, the Herald-Leader reports.

While the final numbers aren't in, McConnell raised $17.8 million by Oct. 1, while Lunsford had collected $7.1 million, of which $5.5 million came from his bank account. In addition, national groups poured in millions of dollars more on behalf of both sides.

"I wouldn't be surprised if this most recent Senate race had a total of $50 million spent on it," said U.S. Rep. Geoff Davis, a Hebron Republican.

Because that race involved the sitting Republican leader of the U.S. Senate, that level of spending isn't likely to be seen in Kentucky any time soon, but Bunning acknowledged that it raised the bar for future Senate campaigns, reports the newspaper.

His re-election campaign fund collected $491,000 over the last four years and started October with about $175,000 in the bank.

In his 2004 campaign, Bunning spent $6.7 million to fend off a late charge by a then-little known state senator, Daniel Mongiardo of Hazard. Bunning edged Mongiardo, now the lieutenant governor, by about 23,000 votes.

Bunning, 77, has insisted that he plans to seek a third six-year term in 2010 despite rumblings among officials from both parties that he might retire. He again made his intentions crystal clear to Republicans Saturday, the newspaper reports.

Davis said he is "quite confident that Sen. Bunning is going to run a campaign very similar to the campaigns we've run in our district and Sen. McConnell ran most recently that will demonstrate a level of tenacity and intensity that will set a new standard for campaigns in the commonwealth."

Meanwhile, a who's who of Democratic officials are eyeing the race. U.S. Rep. Ben Chandler, D-Versailles, remains the party's biggest name. But Chandler, since being elected to Congress in 2004, has passed on running for governor and challenging McConnell. On Wednesday, Chandler deflected questions about whether he'd seek the Senate in 2010, reports the Lexington Herald-Leader.

Copyright - The Lexington Herald-Leader

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  • by Barbara Carter Location: Richmond KY on Dec 13, 2008 at 08:35 AM
    The PRICE IS RIGHT for KY in 2010. My vote is for Darlene Fitzgerald Price against Bunning for Senate. She's a true patriot, and a fellow veteran!!! I, and several others, saw her speak in Madison County with Lunsford, and we were very impressed. Her web site is: www.Darlene4Senate.com - check it out!
  • by Ken L. Location: Kentucky on Dec 12, 2008 at 11:44 AM
    Darlene Fitzgerald Price is the Democrat for U.S. Senate, Kentucky, that my family and friends are supporting! Her web site is: Darlene4Senate.com. She's a veteran who fights for veterans' rights. She's a national security watchdog, and the author of the book "Bordergate" which will scare you to death once you read it. She has testified before congress in her brave fight against government corruption, and she's an American hero!!! Our vote is for her!!! The PRICE IS RIGHT in 2010
  • by Halyn Location: Somerset on Nov 13, 2008 at 06:06 AM
    Kentucky can do without Bunning, McConnell and Rogers. And to steve in irvine...why is the word "liberal" used like it is a dirty word? Let's have a look at how "fiscal conservatives" grew the size of government, larger than anytime before and how they spent us into a hole that will be extremely difficult to crawl ourselves out of.
  • by El Location: Georgetown on Nov 10, 2008 at 04:19 AM
    Evelyn, what Bunning has done for Kentucky is whatever Grinch McConnell tells him to do plus he sacks us with the backwoods arrogant white haired idiot stereotype in the Senate. Basically he is a big brainless lapdog you would never want near your lap.
  • by A Location: L on Nov 9, 2008 at 07:47 PM
    Maybe we could spend the 10million to buy 100 homes for people or health care for thousands? No the rich would rather buy more favors and power with it than save their own souls.
  • by Steve Location: Lexington on Nov 9, 2008 at 03:11 PM
    I mean, I can go along with McConnell that he has brought money to the state in some form or fashion, and the same for Hal Rogers. But name me one thing Bunning has ever done for Kentucky? I can't remember ever hearing about even 1 bill he authored and passed in the 10 years he's been there. I've voted for many folks for House and Senate in the past from both parties, that represented KY well, but there's no way I can vote for a ghost who hasn't even done anything but vote along the party line for 10 years without even having his name as the author of 1 significant piece of legislation.
  • by evelyn Location: morehead on Nov 9, 2008 at 01:35 PM
    I would like to know what Bunning has ever done for KY. We need new leaders in washington. Helps to change often regardless of which party they are.
  • by steve Location: irvine on Nov 9, 2008 at 08:52 AM
    Bunning is the man i can't wait after 2 years the people will have enough of these socialist liberals i assure you and we don't have to worry about Chandler running he will be on a paradise island somewhere spending tax payers money like all these other liberals.


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