MOREHEAD- Ending months of speculation, House Minority Leader Rocky Adkins threw his hat in the ring for governor.
The Eastern Kentucky Democrat has served in the General Assembly for 31 years. Before that, he worked in the coal mines. he says it was the community that helped him decide to run for Kentucky's highest office.
"They have told me, you know, Rocky, you understand how to make government work for communities across Kentucky," Adkins said. "You have the seasoned experience, you have proven leadership, and we need a governor that can bring back some dignity and respect to the governor's office."
As Democrats continue to focus more on education and pensions, Adkins has chosen Steph Horne, a board member for Jefferson County Public Schools, to be his running mate. He says helping education and teachers will be a top priority for them.
"What has happened in Kentucky over the last couple of years, in my opinion has not been good for public education. Number one, charter schools, trying to privatize public education. The other is the attack on public pensions. If we want to have qualified, excellent teachers in the classroom, it is in my opinion of the utmost importance that we have a strong pension system, not just for teachers but for all public employees." he said.
But that won't be his only priority.
"I've stood strong for working families across Kentucky and have opposed legislation that's been passed over the last couple of years that I believe has hurt the great working men and women of this great commonwealth," Adkins said. "A tax bill that's raised taxes on 95% of Kentuckians and given a tax break to the top 5. We can do better in Kentucky."
It's expected to be a crowded primary. With Attorney General Andy Beshear, D-Kentucky, and Geoff Young already filing their paperwork. Rep. Attica Scott, D-Louisville, Former Auditor Adam Edelen and Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, D-Kentucky, are all rumored to be mulling bids for governor. Despite the competition, Adkins is confident he can win the primary.
"I consider myself a very moderate Democrat, middle of the road, common sense. I think most people will tell you, regardless of what they are, left, right or the middle, that I'm somebody they can connect with...treated right."
The Republican Party of Kentucky quickly commented on the announcement, portraying Adkins as a career politician.
"Rocky Adkins spent 14 years as House Majority Floor Leader, passing 8 budgets, all of which substantially underfunded state pensions. We look forward to hearing his plans to fix the massive pension problem he was one of the leading causes of but, in the meantime, Governor Bevin and our Republican supermajorities, will continue our work protecting and funding pensions for teachers, public workers and first responders." Communications Director Tres Watson said in a statement.