KY-Sen: Grayson Forms Exploratory Committee, Bunning Retirement Rumored

Kentucky Secretary of State Trey Grayson has formed an exploratory committee to run for Jim Bunning’s Senate seat, according to the Politico. Grayson insists that he has no intention of challenging Bunning in a primary:

In a statement, Grayson said he doesn’t plan on running against Bunning, and is merely making preparations to run in case Bunning does not run for a third term.

“I have formed an exploratory committee to allow me to formally raise and spend funds as I seek support for a bid for U.S. Senate,” Grayson said in a statement.

Grayson’s camp is saying that the decision to form an exploratory was done at Bunning’s suggestion — indicating that Bunning is leaning heavily toward retirement:

“Trey did this with Bunning’s blessing,” said van Lohuizen.

Earlier this week, Grayson flew to Washington to meet with Bunning and tell him of his plans to form the exploratory committee, according to a Kentucky-based GOP operative.   The operative said it’s a clear sign that Bunning does not plan to run for another term.

“Jim Bunning is the one who initiated the conversations with Trey to take this step. This wasn’t Trey lashing out, this is Jim Bunning reaching out to Trey and offering this idea,” said the GOP operative.

In the past, Bunning has been mostly firm (in fact, very firm) on his desire to seek re-election — with the exception of resignation rumors and some waffling last month on the certainty of his decision. But this news will give us a pretty clear window to his true intentions — Bunning famously lashed out at any suggestion that he was considering retirement earlier in the year, and you would have to assume that he would shoot down this story if he wasn’t considering abandoning the Republican tortoise.

Assuming Bunning is out and Grayson is in, this race will get a lot tougher for Team Blue, but it would still be quite winnable if the Democratic primary does not devolve into a demolition derby.

(H/T: Zeitgeist9000)

UPDATE: Roll Call‘s sources are confirming Bunning’s blessing of Grayson, and Kentucky Republicans believe a retirement announcement could come as soon as May 9 at the state’s Lincoln Day Dinner. Meanwhile, Camp Bunning is staying mum.

LATER UPDATE: Bunning’s team is now refuting the retirement rumors:

But a spokesman for Mr. Bunning, Mike Reynard, refuted those rumors. “Senator Bunning has every intention of running, ” he said in an e-mailed statement. […]

[A senior Republican Congressional] aide was at a loss to explain why Mr. Bunning would then say on Thursday evening that he had every intention of running.

Is there a chance that these rumors are being planted by operatives of Mitch McConnell? It wouldn’t be too surprising, given how desperately he wants Bunning out of the picture. Still no confirmation or denial from Bunning himself about the Grayson “recruitment”.

30 thoughts on “KY-Sen: Grayson Forms Exploratory Committee, Bunning Retirement Rumored”

  1. This leads either to the greatest Bunning blowout yet or a harder race. Grayson is very beatable.

  2. We can still beat Grayson, but what are we going to do without Bunning suggesting that Conway is conspiring with Swedish terrorists and Saddam’s sons to seat the zombie of Louis Brandeis reseated on the Supreme Court?

  3. but still doable.  We came within 6% of taking out McConnell with an unlikable candidate in a presidential year.  I am confident we can beat Grayson with a top-tier candidate like Conway in an off-year.

    Tougher, but we’ve still got the better candidates.

  4. I really want Bunning to run for another term, but I never believed that he would.  Unfortunately, it looks like he won’t.

  5. I’m trying to think of a silver lining for Bunning dropping out, but it seems bad all round.  Not only would the Rs get a more electable candidate, but I’m gonna miss the zany things Bunning might say or do.  I was rooting for this to be 2010’s NY-13.

  6. run a real operation chaos.  

    All one has to do is send some e-mails to bunning tellhim what a coward he is and then cap it off with some heartfelt appeals about how Republicans need Bunning to stay in the race.  

  7. Bunning is denying the rumors now?  I would have thought at this point that he would just clam up for awhile, and then gracefull (well, as gracefull as he knows how) announce his retirement.  But to keep denying them?  That would be hilarious if McConnell is orchestrating this whole thing, telling Grayson that Bunning secretly wants him to run.

    I hope Bunning wins the primary and then promptly retires, in one last F.U. to McConnell and all the others who tried to steamroll him out.

  8. Some of the things he votes down in the Senate nowadays are just petty.  

    Voting down a guy nominated to be Asst. Sec for Fish & Wildlife?  Seriously?  I didn’t even know that position existed, much less needed approval from the Senate.  Bunning needs to get a life.

    Question: On the Nomination (Confirmation Thomas L. Strickland, of Colorado, to be Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife)

    YEAs 89

    NAYs 2

    Not Voting 8

    NAYs —2

    Bunning (R-KY)

    Wicker (R-MS)

  9. I thought Bunning said Ginsberg was going to be the next vacancy on the court and that she had 9 months to live?  I’m starting to doubt Bunning’s medical expertise.


    Do you approve or disapprove of the job Mitch McConnell is doing as United States Senator?

    Approve 43%

    Disapprove 48%

    Not Sure 9%

    Do you approve or disapprove of the job Jim Bunning is doing as United States Senator?

    Approve 34%

    Disapprove 52%

    Not Sure 14%

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