LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Jack Conway says he raised more than $750,000 in his first fundraising quarter as a 2015 Democratic candidate for governor, prompting subtle criticism from Kentucky's House Speaker who said Democrats should be focused on the November elections instead of a governor's race more than a year away.
Conway's announcement comes almost two weeks after he announced endorsements from former U.S. Sen. Wendell Ford, former state Auditor Crit Luallen and U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth, the state's only Democratic congressman.
Conway's numbers and endorsements have prompted one of his potential Republican rivals — state Agriculture Commissioner James Comer — to consider jumping into the race ahead of the November state House elections. Hal Heiner, a Republican who announced his candidacy in March, has raised $192,000 and contributed $4 million of his own money.
But Democratic House Speaker Greg Stumbo, the former Attorney General and Conway's potential opponent for the Democratic nomination, said Tuesday he has delayed announcing whether he would run for governor because he is focused solely on raising money for Kentucky's Democratic House candidates, who are trying to maintain control of the state House of Representatives.
"I will focus on the governor's race when we get through with these," he said in a news release. "Personal ambition should never outweigh the bigger picture."
Conway noted his campaign has only held two fundraising events since announcing his candidacy, reiterating his promise not to interfere with the fundraising efforts of Kentucky Democrats trying to maintain control of the state House of Representatives. His running mate for lieutenant governor is state Rep. Sannie Overly who, as chairwoman of the House Democratic Caucus, is helping Democratic House candidates.
"There is no one more committed to electing Alison Grimes to the United States Senate and keeping the Democratic majority in the House than Sannie Overly and me," Conway said in a statement provided by his campaign. "That's the reason why we only held two fundraisers to as not to conflict with those fundraising efforts."