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Edelen Files For Governor Ahead Of Tuesday's Deadline

Ryland Barton

Democrat Adam Edelen filed to run for governor of Kentucky on Monday, promising an issues-based campaign that will not accept money from special interest groups.

Edelen was elected Kentucky's auditor in 2011. He was preparing to challenge Republican U.S. Sen. Rand Paul in the 2016 election cycle when he lost his re-election bid to Mike Harmon in 2015, a then little-known GOP state lawmaker.

The setback kept Edelen out of the public eye for a few years, but now he's back with Louisville developer Gill Holland as his running mate to promise "a different kind of campaign" at a time when Republicans are dominating Kentucky's state and local elections.

"The problem that we've had in the past with the Democratic Party is we've just criticized the leadership in place. And make no mistake, there is much to criticize about (Republican Gov.) Matt Bevin," Edelen said. "Where we've missed the opportunity to build is that we haven't spoken enough about what we are for."

Edelen promised that his campaign would "spend the majority of our time talking about our vision for the state." The more than 9,000 words on his website devoted to policy issues include an endorsement of universal public preschool, adopting renewable energy portfolio standards and promising at least 50 percent of his cabinet secretaries will be women.

Edelen says he hopes that approach will offer "the people of Kentucky something more than nostalgia and incrementalism" and help him stand out in a crowded Democratic primary that includes Attorney General Andy Beshear, state House Minority Floor Leader Rocky Adkins and former state worker Geoff Young.

Edelen grew up on a tobacco farm in Meade County, a fact he often uses to connect with Kentucky's mostly rural population as evidence that he "doesn't have an iota of entitlement in me."

"I'm the candidate that when I was brought home from the hospital, it was to a trailer," he said.

Holland said Monday he was confident the ticket could still scoop up votes in Louisville, the state's largest city and highest concentration of Democratic voters. A prominent businessman and developer, Holland is mostly likely the wealthiest candidate in the race. But he has said he won't release his personal income tax returns, as other candidates have done, out of a concern for his family's privacy.

"I'm very proud to do everything that his required by law in terms of financial disclosure," Holland said, and Edelen added the pair will make "granular level disclosures" on Feb. 15.

Candidates have until 4 p.m. Tuesday to file paperwork to appear on the May 21st primary ballot. Republican Gov. Matt Bevin filed for re-election Friday, but he won't be running with Lt. Gov. Jenean Hampton. Instead, he chose a new running mate: GOP state Sen. Ralph Alvarado.

Bevin will face at least two challengers in the Republican primary, including William Woods and state Rep. Robert Goforth.

Republican U.S. Rep. James Comer announced Sunday night he would not challenge Bevin in the primary this year. Bevin defeated Comer by 83 votes in the 2015 Republican primary.

Since then Comer has criticized Bevin's leadership, including on Sunday when he said, "Kentucky deserves better than a governor who belittles anyone who disagrees with him."

However, he added: "I do believe (Bevin) will be re-elected."

Representative in Bevin's office did not respond to a request for comment.

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