This is a damn shame:
Kentucky Auditor Crit Luallen announced this morning that she would not challenge U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell next year.
Luallen has been the Washington establishment's top choice to challenge McConnell and has been weighing a decision for months.
But this morning, she issued a one-paragraph statement saying that she would not run.
Luallen would likely have been our strongest candidate for the seat, and losing her is a major blow to our chances of defeating McConnell next fall.
After Luallen, the biggest names known to be considering the race are Kentucky Attorney General Greg Stumbo, and attorney and Iraq War veteran Lt. Col. Andrew Horne. Horne has publicly indicated his interest in the race if Luallen did not run, and Stumbo has had an exploratory committee for months.
Stumbo is a pretty big name; he was Kentucky House Majority Leader from 1985 to 2003, served a term as Kentucky Attorney General, and lost the Democratic primary for Lieutenant Governor this year (on a ticket with businessman Bruce Lunsford). However, after months of considering the Senate race, he's now talking about getting his old job back as state representative, which would be strange talk for a guy still considering a US Senate bid.
Horne has an impressive bio (which includes serving on the board of advisers of VoteVets), but has never held elected office, his name recognition is limited outside of KY-03, and he lost in the Democratic primary in his Congressional race last year (to future Rep. John Yarmuth).
But according to Bluegrass Report, national Dems are attempting to recruit Lieutenant Governor-elect Daniel Mongiardo to run for McConnell's seat.
Mongiardo would be a pretty good candidate; he came within a hair of ousting Kentucky Senator Jim Bunning in 2004, despite being a major underdog in that race (he raised only $600,000 to Bunning's $4 million), and enjoying DSCC assistance only at the end of the race.
However, Mongiardo was only elected to his new job in November, and it would look pretty bad for him to declare his candidacy for Senate before even being sworn in as Lieutenant Governor.
With Luallen out, we currently don't have a top-tier candidate for this race. Stumbo or Horne could, with luck, mount a serious challenge to McConnell, and it's likely that Horne, at least, will actually run.
But with McConnell sitting on an enormous war chest-estimated at $10 million-and the Republicans doubtless in no mood to surrender the seat of their anointed leader, there really is no time to waste.