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Lt. Gov. Dan Mongiardo has endorsed his primary rival Attorney General Jack Conway in the U.S. Senate race.

Kentucky Public Radio’s Tony McVeigh has more.

The chair of the Kentucky Democratic Party released a statement regarding Lt. Gov. Dan Mongiardo‘s campaign debt…which was accumulated during his bid for the Democratic nomination to the Senate. The debt has been at the center of conversations about Mongiardo’s endorsement of his party’s nominee, Attorney General Jack Conway.

The statement consists mostly of what’s expected, given that party unity has been questioned in the absence of Mongiardo’s endorsement. Here’s an excerpt:

I and other leaders in the party will be assisting Lt. Gov. Daniel Mongiardo with his primary campaign debt. I am confident that all Democrats will come together this fall in support of the entire Democratic ticket.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee is making hay out of Lt. Gov. Dan Mongiardo‘s delayed endorsement of his former primary rival, Attorney General Jack Conway.

First, a rundown of the situation, from the C-J:

Lt. Gov. Daniel Mongiardo said Wednesday that “trust” will be the key factor in his decision about whether to endorse fellow Democrat Jack Conway in the Senate race after he says Conway reneged on a deal to help him pay off about $80,000 in campaign debt.

“It’s my understanding that something is happening (to resolve the dispute), but I … haven’t seen a check,” said Mongiardo, who lost narrowly to Conway in the May 18 Democratic primary.

Mongiardo said he doesn’t know if it was his or Conway’s advisers, or national Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee officials, who brought up the idea of paying off the campaign debt.

But, he said, during discussions the day after his narrow primary loss to Conway that a deal was reached in which he would drop his request for a recanvass and, in return, Conway would help him retire his debt.

“Once they brought it to me, I agreed to it,” he said.

Conway has denied that there was ever an agreement to help Mongiardo raise the money. But Conway has acknowledged that the subject of paying off Mongiardo’s campaign debt may have come up during discussions that led to Mongiardo’s decision not to seek a recanvass of voting machines in his narrow primary election loss to Conway.

It’s the NRSC’s job to highlight anything that could weaken the Democratic campaign. They’ve routinely mentioned the lack of an endorsement, indicating that Conway is a weak candidate, and not as appealing–even to his fellow Democrats–as Republican candidate Rand Paul.

Today, the committee released this statement:

Relations between the two have grown increasingly bitter since the primary. Mongiardo, for example, kept active his campaign website, including attacks on Conway, for several weeks after the election, and he refused to withdraw a complaint he filed against Conway with the state’s Executive Branch Ethics Commission.

Do you think the situation will hurt Conway in the fall? There was a lot of talk about poor party unity in the 2008 Presidential race after Barack Obama won the nomination over Hillary Clinton, and it seems those fences were mended.

Democratic Senate Candidate Jack Conway says he will be meeting with his former primary opponent Lt. Gov. Dan Mongiardo soon, and he expects Mongiardo’s endorsement.

After a forum with Republican rival Rand Paul, Conway spoke with reporters about his relationship with Mongiardo. Conway said he doesn’t mind if party leaders want to help the Lieutenant Governor pay down his campaign debt, but he does not want to raise money solely to help Mongiardo. He says he’s not sure if any agreement has been brokered, but staff members of each campaign have met.

Mongiardo’s endorsement (and the votes from rural Democrats it could bring in) will likely be crucial for Conway in the general election.

Conway also discussed fundraising, saying he thinks he will top Paul’s $1.1 million haul last quarter.

To hear all of Conway’s remarks, click here (mp3).

Governor Steve Beshear has issued the following statement concerning Attorney General Jack Conway‘s recent victory over Lt. Governor Dan Mongiardo in the Democratic primary for the U.S. Senate. He echoes the unity sentiment put forth in Mongiardo’s recent statement reversing his original plan to seek a recanvass, thus challenging the results of the election.

I congratulate Jack Conway for winning the Democratic primary, and I am confident he will be the next United States Senator from Kentucky. Lt. Governor Daniel Mongiardo fought a hard campaign, continues to be a loyal public servant to Kentucky families as lieutenant governor and has a bright future in whatever he chooses to do next. Now is the time to set aside our differences and focus on unifying all Kentuckians in support of Jack Conway.

From Daniel Mongiardo‘s Senate campaign:

Saying “Daniel feels it’s time to move forward,” the U.S. Senate campaign of Dr. Daniel Mongiardo has decided it will not seek a re-canvass in the Kentucky Democratic Primary.  Earlier today, the campaign stated it would look at seeking a re-canvass.

“This was a difficult decision.  Many of our supporters have poured their hearts and souls into this campaign and they are heartbroken today. However, upon further reflection, I realize that despite their being less than a 1% difference in the vote, a re-canvass is extremely unlikely to change the outcome. It would only delay the healing process that needs to take place.

A representative of the National Republican Senatorial Committee sent the following e-mail this morning about Lt. Governor Dan Mongiardo‘s suggested recanvass in the Democratic Senate primary:

In the aftermath of the brutal Kentucky Democrat Senate primary, Politico reports below that Dan Mongiardo plans to “request a recanvass of all voting machines and absentee ballots across the state.”

This development comes on the heels of the Lexington Herald-Leader’s report last evening that: “Mongiardo would not say whether he will help Conway in the fall campaign against Republican nominee Rand Paul of Bowling Green.”

Meanwhile, the Republicans have joined together and will hold a unity rally this Saturday in Frankfort.

Democratic Lieutenant Governor and U.S. Senate hopeful Dan Mongiardo has filed an ethics complaint against his primary opponent, Attorney General Jack Conway.

From the AP:

DEMOCRATIC U.S. SENATE CONTENDER DANIEL MONGIARDO HAS FILED A COMPLAINT AGAINST HIS MAIN RIVAL WITH KENTUCKY’S EXECUTIVE BRANCH ETHICS COMMISSION.

THE COMPLAINT CLAIMS ATTORNEY GENERAL JACK CONWAY “VIOLATED THE PUBLIC TRUST” BY ACCEPTING CAMPAIGN CONTRIBUTIONS FROM UTILITY COMPANIES, THEIR EXECUTIVES AND LOBBYISTS WHILE PLAYING A ROLE IN DECIDING RATE HIKES. THE COMPLAINT FILED TUESDAY SEEKS AN EXPEDITED RULING FROM THE COMMISSION.

CONWAY CAMPAIGN SPOKESWOMAN ALLISON HALEY CALLED THE FILING A “POLITICAL STUNT.” HALEY SAYS CONWAY HAS CHALLENGED RATE INCREASE REQUESTS BY UTILITIES AND HELPED SAVE RATEPAYERS LARGE AMOUNTS OF MONEY.

MONGIARDO HAS FOCUSED HIS ATTACKS ON CONWAY’S ACCEPTANCE OF CAMPAIGN CONTRIBUTIONS FROM UTILITY INTERESTS IN WHAT HAS BECOME AN ACRIMONIOUS CAMPAIGN BETWEEN THE TWO MAIN CONTENDERS IN THE DEMOCRATIC SENATE PRIMARY.

But as the Courier-Journal points out:

Conway shot back that he doesn’t “approve” any increases and such rate increases are approved by the state Public Service Commission, which was appointed by “the Beshear-Mongiardo administration.”

As attorney general, Conway can intervene in rate cases and often negotiates settlements that must be approved by the PSC. He said during the debate that he has saved utility customers more than $100 million in rate increases since taking office in 2008.

And he noted that past attorneys general Greg Stumbo and Ben Chandler, who are supporting him in the primary, have defended his work representing utility customers and called for Mongiardo “to knock it off.”

The Courier-Journal editorial board is endorsing Attorney General Jack Conway in the Democratic primary for the U.S. Senate. Conway is facing Lieutenant Governor Dr. Daniel Mongiardo, and the paper points out that Conway stands to Mongiardo’s left on many issues. The endorsement editorial also references the candidates’ recent spat over the recent health care overhaul legislation.

Mr. Conway would pursue a more progressive agenda in the Senate than would his principal rival, Lt. Gov. Daniel Mongiardo of Hazard.

Mr. Conway, unlike Dr. Mongiardo, says flatly that he would have voted for the recently enacted national health care reform. Only he seems fully aware that a measure that expands insurance coverage, prohibits denial of insurance based on pre-existing conditions and creates exchanges to lower the cost of premiums is of special benefit to Kentucky, which has higher rates of poverty and illness than the nation as a whole.

Better yet, Mr. Conway is already thinking of ways to improve health care reform, such as allowing younger, healthier adults to participate in Medicare — a step that would provide revenues for Medicare and allow more people to take advantage of an efficient system — and giving Medicare officials the power to negotiate bulk rates for medications. Mr. Conway also dismissively — and correctly — refused to join the ranks of right-wing attorneys general from some other states who are filing quixotic suits to overturn reform.

The most recent C-J/WHAS11/SurveyUSA Bluegrass Poll put Conway 3 points behind Mongiardo. A similar poll conducted in March gave Mongiardo an 18-point lead.

The latest WHAS11/Courier-Journal/SuveryUSA Senate poll is in, and while Rand Paul maintains a steady lead over Trey Grayson, Jack Conway is gaining on Dan Mongiardo.

Check it out:

Republicans

Grayson 30
Paul 45
Martin 2
Scribner 1
Stephenson 3
Undecided 19


Democrats

Conway 32
Mongiardo 35
Buckmaster 4
Price 5
Sweeney 2
Undecided 21

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