The upcoming (2010) U.S. Senate race in Kentucky is flavored rural and urban, according to our friend Al Cross, mostly of the Rural Blog but today with the Louisville newspaper. Cross tells recounts the scramble within the Democratic Party to face incumbent Republican Sen. Jim Bunning. (Well, maybe Bunning; he may find primary opposition, too.) Two Democrats appear headed to the primary: Lt. Gov. Dan Mongiardo (above), a doctor from Hazard in far Eastern Kentucky, and Attorney General Jack Conway of Louisville (i.e., the big city).
Mongiardo has lined up the endorsement of Gov. Steve Beshear. (Cross writes that “Beshear has exacted a price for his endorsement: Mongiardo won’t be his running mate for re-election in 2011.” So it’s not clear what Beshear’s endorsement means.) Conway has the backing of Rep. Ben Chandler (grandson of former Gov. Happy Chandler) and Auditor Crit Luallen. The problem for Conway, says Cross, is that Kentucky already has one senator from Louisville, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. “(A)re rural Kentucky voters willing to elect two senators from the state’s biggest city?” Cross asks.
“The anti-Louisville bias has declined, ‘but it’s still out there,’ said Louisville political consultant Danny Briscoe, who works primarily in rural areas,” writes Cross. “The bias is difficult to quantify, but it can surely amplify rural voters’ doubts about a candidate who seems more liberal than the alternative.”