In Kentucky Sports Radio Host Matt Jones, Democrats in Washington thought they might have found it all in a possible candidate to run in Kentucky's 6th District: A moderate who was not ashamed to admit he voted for President Barack Obama; a well-educated lawyer who knows how to speak to the district's working-class voters; and a man who has spent years building his name identification by hosting one of the top sports talk shows in a state that loves its sports.
But on Monday, it turned out their notion of a Jones candidacy was too good to be true. After months of courting by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, Jones announced he would not challenge Republican Rep. Andy Barr.
"The decision is more personal than it is political," he wrote in a post on his website. "While I think now more than ever, a person who is willing to put aside political affiliations in order to actually work for the common good is needed, it just isn’t the right time in my life to do it."
Jones, who launched his popular Kentucky Sports Radio website and daily program a decade ago, said he was not "ready to completely give it up," but added, "it is likely I will pursue public office" at some point in the future.
The fact that Jones was even considering a campaign was controversial among his fans. On Monday, many of them took to Twitter to respond to his decision not to run.
Even for Jones, as popular as he is among University of Kentucky athletics fans, a win for Democrats in Kentucky's 6th District against an incumbent seeking his third term will be an uphill climb.The Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report/Roll Call rates the district Safe Republican. In 2014, Barr won with 60 percent of the vote.
But — pointing to the results of the 2015 gubernatorial race, in which Democratic Attorney General Jack Conway beat Republican Matt Bevin in the district despite his statewide loss — one Democratic operative said Monday, "Democrats’ competitiveness doesn’t end with Matt Jones."
With Jones out of the picture, Kentucky Democrats said Monday that a handful of others are considering their own campaigns, including Luther Deaton, a wealthy Lexington banker; Colmon Eldridge, a young Democratic activist who works on Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear's staff; and state Rep. Sannie Overly, who was Conway's running mate in 2014.