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Republicans named several contenders ready to run for an open Senate seat. State Agriculture Commissioner James R. Comer is a possible candidate, but he is expected to run for governor in 2015. A local operative called him “the next big thing.” Former Secretary of State Trey Grayson, who unsuccessfully ran for the GOP 2010 Senate nomination, is a possible but unlikely 2016 Senate candidate.
Then there’s the handful of House Republicans in the delegation. Piper noted Reps. Brett Guthrie and Edward Whitfield as candidates who could run statewide if there’s an opportunity. Other sources say that the entire GOP delegation could run for Senate in an open race, along with former Republican National Chairman Mike Duncan.
For the Democrats, party operatives continue to mention state Attorney General Jack Conway as a viable statewide candidate. He lost to Rand Paul by 12 points in 2010 — a cycle that was kind to Republicans nationwide. Conway’s name also comes up as a future gubernatorial and congressional candidate.
Local Democrats also named state Auditor Adam Edelen as a future statewide candidate.
Then there are opportunities in the House that could come sooner if anyone in the delegation retires. But as long as Appropriations Chairman Harold Rogers holds his gavel, local Republicans say he will stay in Congress. Those who might one day succeed him include state Sen. Chris Girdler, former University of Kentucky football player Grayson Smith, Rogers district director Karen Kelly and state Senate Majority Whip Brandon Smith.
Democratic contenders for that seat include state Rep. Greg Stumbo, state Sen. Ray Jones and 2010 Senate candidate Daniel Mongiardo.
Democrats have expressed some interest in challenging Rep. Andy Barr in the Lexington-based 6th District. Former Democratic Rep. Ben Chandler held the seat for four terms until Barr defeated him last year.
Democrats said the front-runner to challenge Barr is Elisabeth Jensen, the leader of a nonprofit education advocacy group, The Race for Education. They also said Joe Palumbo, the president of a lumber company, is mulling a run.
Democrats believe having Grimes at the top of the ticket can only help their cause — at least this cycle.
Farm Team is a weekly, state-by-state look at the up-and-coming politicos who may eventually run for Congress.