LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - Democratic Attorney General Jack Conway
won a second term Tuesday night, defeating a Republican prosecutor
who tried to turn the race into a referendum on federal issues -
including the national health care law and the incumbent's refusal
to challenge it.
Conway focused on state issues during the campaign, taking
credit for a crackdown on cybercrime and Medicaid fraud, while
opponent Todd P'Pool tried to tie Conway to President Barack Obama,
who's unpopular in Kentucky.
The victory restored some of Conway's political stock, which
took a beating a year ago when he lost his run for the U.S. Senate
to Republican Rand Paul, a tea party favorite.
"There are a lot of people in this campaign who wanted the
opportunity to write my political obituary," Conway told jubilant
supporters in claiming victory. "Well I'm here tonight to tell you
that the reports of my demise are awfully premature."
With 98 percent of precincts reporting, Conway had 442,757, or
55 percent of the vote, to P'Pool's 360,816, or 45 percent.
P'Pool constantly criticized Conway for refusing to add Kentucky
to the legal challenge against Obama's health care law.
More than half the states are part of the challenge that claims
Congress overstepped its authority in requiring people to buy
health insurance or pay a penalty on their taxes, beginning in
2014. The case appears headed for the U.S. Supreme Court.
Conway said he wasn't going to reassign staff attorneys from
Kentucky-specific matters to deal with the federal issue.
P'Pool, in his second term as the Hopkins County attorney in
western Kentucky, had also vowed to aggressively challenge federal
regulations he sees as burdensome for such key Kentucky sectors as coal and agriculture.
In conceding, P'Pool said he was looking forward to a routine
off the campaign trail, saying he planned to take time to deer
"It was an honor to carry the constitutional, conservative
message for my party," he said.
Conway portrayed himself as an activist attorney general. He
said his cybercrimes unit has taken 300,000 child porn images off
the Internet. He pointed to his prescription pill task force as
part of the law enforcement offensive aimed at curbing abuse of
prescribed medications. He said his office's intervention in
utility rate cases saved ratepayers large sums.
"We won this race because we focused together on what it means
to be the attorney general of the commonwealth of Kentucky,"
Conway said. "Those on the other side wanted to make it about
Washington political stunts or Washington political games."
He promised more efforts to curb prescription pill abuse, saying
"we're going to get entrepreneurs out of the `pill mill' business.
And we're going to tackle this scourge and police it in this state
the way it ought to be police."
The race to be Kentucky's chief law enforcement officer drew
attention from national Republicans as the GOP tried to inflict
another loss on Conway.
P'Pool campaigned with two former GOP presidential candidates,
Rudy Giuliani and Mike Huckabee, and was endorsed by former Alaska Gov. and vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin.
The tone of the campaign turned especially bitter and personal
late in the race when P'Pool ran a TV ad suggesting that Conway had
taken an improper role in a drug investigation of the incumbent's
Conway countered with an ad accusing P'Pool of "completely
distorting the facts" to try to fool voters. Looking into the
camera, Conway said he told his brother to take responsibility for
his potential legal problem. Conway concluded by telling P'Pool he
could "say what you want about me, but my family shouldn't be part
of this campaign."
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)