The primary election is May 21, and there are several candidates seeking their party's nomination. The Pure Politics team has contacted each candidate with a primary opponent to find out who they are, and what they stand for.
Rocky Adkins is a Democrat running for Governor, his running mate is Stephanie Horne.
Horne lives in Prospect in Jefferson County, where she owns a title company and previously served on the Jefferson County Board of Education for four years.
Adkins is from Sandy Hook in Eastern Kentucky. He attended Morehead University where he played basketball. He was first elected to the Kentucky House of Representatives at 26, since the he’s served as Majority Leader and now serves as the Minority Leader.
Adkins says he’s running because he brings experience and expertise to the office.
“Kentucky needs the leadership that is strong, somebody that can make state government work again for communities across Kentucky,” Adkins said. “Someone that can work across party aisles, my relationship in the General Assembly, where I’ve been there for a while, I think really helps us be prepared that first day. I think understanding how to write a budget and there’s no question that over the last three and half years, I think, that you have seen a lot of controversy in Kentucky. A lot of controversy in Kentucky from a governor who has divided people instead of unite people. A governor who has tried to privatize public education, a governor who I believe has been bad for working families.”
Horne decided to run with Adkins because she said she believes he’ll be the best governor.
“I listened to him and he was talking about things near and dear to my heart,” Horne said. “First , just his passion for education, public education, and being on a school board it was just really music to my ears, to think of having a governor in Kentucky that would support public education, and also our teachers, that would respect our teachers, and also kind of knew what was needed for public education. The situation right now is that we have a governor right now who is advocating for charter schools, to private public education. That would take money away from things that we already need to fund, we need to fund kindergarten full day, we already don’t have textbooks in the classroom.”
Horne and Adkins are both cancer survivors, so his plan for healthcare is another thing that drew her in. As well, as his passion to help veterans coming back to Kentucky by his plan for free community college and job training.
“I was sold, being the daughter of educators, both of my parents were also teachers,” Horne said. “That was something that I feel that Rocky really understands that education, and job training will change lives and transform our citizens of Kentucky.”
As Lieutenant Governor, Horne would work hand in hand with Adkins to help accomplish his strategy in office.
The biggest issue to the ticket is growing and diversifying the economy in Kentucky, especially in rural areas.
“I think it’s critical that we lift up all of Kentucky, every region that’s struggling,” Adkins said, “There needs to be an administration like ours that understands rural Kentucky, someone from urban Kentucky, that understands urban parts of Kentucky, and to be able to put forth a game plan to use the parts of the puzzle that we build in Kentucky over time to really put that puzzle together to help bring the types of jobs that will help rebuild economies.”
Adkins says it’s important to focus on the industrial manufacturing sector of the economy to help the regions in the commonwealth that have high unemployment.
All three candidates are going after the Louisville and Lexington vote which carries are large number of voters. Adkins, who is from the rural part of the state, says they are working hard to get the coveted vote, as well as the vote of rural Kentucky.
“I think that we are competing very hard for this urban vote as well, I the education community that has watched me in Frankfort battle this governor on his attempt to privatize public education, his attempt to privatize public pensions. His disrespect for teachers and working families across Kentucky,” Adkins said. “I think people across Kentucky have seen me not just talk the talk, they’ve watched me walk the walk. I haven’t been a Monday morning quarterback; I’ve been in the trenches for a long time, fighting for public education, fighting for public employees, fighting for our education community, fighting for working families across Kentucky. We’re not a new commodity, we’ve been here, and we’ve fought the fight, Stephanie, on the school board here fighting some of the toughest fights that you can fight, so we’re competing hard in urban areas of Kentucky, and we expect to do very well, not just in urban areas, but rural areas of Kentucky as well.”
Kentucky voters are increasingly voting more conservative, and Republicans are winning more offices. Adkins is the most conservative Democrat of the candidates running in the primary; he’s often said he is the only candidate that can beat Gov. Matt Bevin in a general election. But as the rest of the state is turning more conservative, the urban areas are becoming more progressive. Adkins says despite that his plans for growing the economy, healthcare and public education will resonate with voters.
“I think that without question, our message is about building a better Kentucky,” Adkins said. “Our message is about quality public education, it’s about standing up for working families, for a good wage. It’s about quality healthcare, and it’s about investment in the infrastructure of Kentucky. Our dream and our challenge to the people of Kentucky to have world class broadband system in Kentucky that would bring high speed internet to all of Kentucky.”
Horne says they are the best choice for the office because they are both coachable.
"Rocky is going around the state and he is listening, actively, and he's listening to people at the county level, like in Jefferson County, he sat with different leaders, he's doing that all over the state," Horne said. "He's listening because he believes that the solutions are sometimes at the local level, they have great ideas, and he's willing to be open to the ideas that are coming from all types of people."
"I've got a a brillant running mate, somebody that is smart, somebody that is strong," Adkins said. "Somebody who will be an active part of our administration, somebody that won't be in the back office out of the way, but someone that will be out front, working on key issues that we need to have worked on in Kentucky."
Adkins is facing Andy Beshear,Adam Edelen, and Geoff Young in the primary