MURRAY — On the first day of a two-day swing through western Kentucky, the second Democratic Party candidate to announce a run for Kentucky governor in 2019 told Murray voters Monday that he is in this race to win it.
Rocky Adkins, longtime state representative from Sandy Hook in the far-eastern part of the commonwealth, told a crowd of about 75 people Monday afternoon that his record shows he not only has what it takes to win the Democratic nomination in May, but to take the seat away from Republican incumbent Matt Bevin in next November’s general election. Appearing with running mate Stephanie Horne of the Metro Louisville area, Adkins said the reason for this is that he identifies with the majority of Kentucky voters, being a lifelong resident of a rural area of the state.
He said that should matter, based on the current climate of Kentucky politics, where Republicans have dominated the past few election cycles, having made a huge surge in registered voters. October numbers, in fact, show that for the first time since at least World War II, Democrats failed to make up at least 50 percent of registered voters. Meanwhile, Republicans were at 41.7 percent, having outgained Democrats 25,000 to 3,300 in registered voters since the May primary alone.
“I am the only Democrat who’s going to be in this race that can win in November (’19),” Adkins said after his speech at Pagliai’s restaurant. He emphasized how he was one of the Democrats who survived the 2016 general election when the Kentucky state house, in stunning fashion, not only flipped to the GOP for the first time in 95 years, but did so with Republicans going from a slight deficit in held seats to a nearly 30-seat supermajority.
That was also the night Republican Donald Trump, using a largely rural base, defeated favored Democrat Hillary Clinton for president.
“I was on the ballot with Trump in 2016. In my district, in Elliott County, a heavily Democratic county, voted 73 percent for Trump that night. I got 85. And in Lewis County, a heavily Republican county, I split the vote with my opponent. I got 2,500 and my opponent got 2,500 and (Trump) got 6,000 votes. I will run well in rural Kentucky and I will run well there because (voters) know who I am. They know I’m a Kentuckian and they know that I line up well on issues that most Kentuckians care about.”
Adkins formally announced his intentions to seek the 2019 Democratic Party nod Wednesday in Morehead. He joins Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear – who has engaged in numerous battles with Bevin over his policies, even filing lawsuits to block them – as the only Democrats to file for the governor’s race so far.