By Ronnie Ellis
CNHI News Service
Following months of speculation as he attended political events around the state to shake hands and meet potential supporters, Andy Beshear, son of Gov. Steve Beshear, announced Thursday he will run for attorney general in 2015.
In an email sent to potential supporters and donors, the younger Beshear said, “I am excited to announce today I filed with the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance to begin my run for the Office of Attorney General.”
In an accompanying news release, Beshear, 35, cited “a passion for public service and a deep desire to protect Kentucky families” in making his announcement.
The Democrat from Louisville is the first member of either major party to announce he’ll seek the office now held by Democrat Jack Conway who is serving his second term and is ineligible to run for a third.
Conway is considering a race for governor in 2015.
Democratic state Rep. John Tilley, the House Judiciary Chairman, an attorney from Hopkinsville, has expressed interest in running to succeed Conway.
Tilley said he remains “very much interested” in the race, and Beshear’s announcement won’t affect his decision. “I’m still working through the process with my family. I’ve received a lot of encouragement throughout the state, but I’m weighing more than one option as part of my decision.”
Tilley has also been mentioned as a potential lieutenant governor candidate on a Democratic slate.
Another potential Democratic candidate, Jennifer Moore, a Louisville attorney and former Kentucky Democratic Party Chairman who is active in Emerge Kentucky which promotes female Democratic candidates, said she hasn’t made a decision about the race.
“Right now, I’m focused on electing women from Emerge Kentucky and our first female Senator next year,” Moore said, referring to Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes. “As for 2015, I’ll make my decision when the time is right.”
Beshear is a member of the Stites and Harbison law firm, the same firm where his father was a managing partner before running for governor in 2007. Andy Beshear is a Vanderbilt graduate and graduate of the University of Virginia School of Law. He practices administrative law, anti-trust defense and environmental law and has represented utilities, banks, manufacturers and healthcare providers, according to information on the Stites and Harbison website.
He’s also represented clients seeking to do business with the state or seeking state regulatory authority during his father’s gubernatorial administration. He represents backers of a controversial proposed gas pipeline and represented an Indian-based coal company which sought tax incentives from the state.
That could pose conflicts for someone running for attorney general, said Richard Beliles, who chairs Common Cause of Kentucky.
“I think that could very well develop into a real conflict,” said Beliles, because the AG often represents consumers in utility cases and other business litigation.
“I think he should publicly release a list of all the clients he’s represented before state government,” Beliles said. He also said the younger Beshear should no longer represent such clients now that he’s running for Attorney General.
Beshear’s campaign manager Jared Smith didn’t address Beliles’ suggestions directly, saying: “Today is about simply filing the necessary papers to fundraise for a campaign,” he said. “However, in the months and weeks to come, Mr. Beshear will be talking to Kentuckians around the state, including the media, and listening to their thoughts and concerns about the commonwealth”
In his news release, Andy Beshear said he’s worked as an attorney “to ensure that clients receive the justice they seek and deserve in the court of law.”
He said the skills “I have learned in fighting for Kentucky communities, businesses both small and large and community organizations to fighting for all of the people of this great commonwealth” prepare him to be an effective chief law enforcement officer for the state.
Lt. Gov. Jerry Abramson, former Supreme Court Justice James Keller and Commonwealth’s Attorney Michelle Snodgrass of Campbell County, will co-chair his campaign.
Ronnie Ellis writes for CNHI News Service and is based in Frankfort. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow CNHI News Service stories on Twitter at www.twitter.com/cnhifrankfort.