Kentucky Senator Jim Bunning, who has provided some great amusement with his attacks on his colleague from Kentucky, Mitch McConnell, is retiring. It wasn’t unexpected. But, it sets up an intense fight for the open seat:
The open seat will likely attract Secretary of State Trey Grayson (R), who outraised the senator by a two-to-one margin last quarter. National Republicans are excited for the prospect of a Grayson candidacy, which sources have told The Hill would be announced shortly after Bunning’s departure.
But Grayson will not be alone in the Republican field. He could also face former Ambassador Cathy Bailey, a wealthy former Republican National Committee member who has expressed interest in a bid and has suggested she could help finance her own campaign. Physician Rand Paul (R), the son of Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), is already running.
Bunning said he would not endorse a candidate in the Republican primary, though he said he hopes “a strong conservative” wins the nomination.
“The Republican Party needs more people with strong principles and convictions that can stand up to the temptations of political power that have engulfed so many of our leaders after they arrive inside the beltway,” Bunning said in his statement.
On the Democratic side, Lt. Gov. Daniel Mongiardo (D), the once-little known state senator who nearly upset Bunning, is already engaged in a bitter battle with Attorney General Jack Conway (D). Mongiardo began with a strong fundraising performance, but Conway easily outpaced him, raising more than $1.3 million in his first three months as a candidate.