LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Adam Edelen rails against corporate money influencing politics and recalls the pain of seeing his father lose his job as the Democrat takes to the airwaves this weekend to make the case that he should be Kentucky's next governor.
The 30-second TV ad, scheduled to start airing Sunday, offers a quick biographical sketch as the former state auditor reintroduces himself to a broad audience nearly four years after being swept out of office by a Republican surge led by Matt Bevin's election as governor. The ad is slated to run during the championship game of the Southeastern Conference's men's basketball tournament.
That slot will get a big audience. But the University of Kentucky won't be playing after they lost to Tennessee in a semifinal game on Saturday.
Edelen, who has promised a feisty campaign, is among four Democrats vying for the chance to unseat Bevin in this year's election. The ad opens what's expected to be an ad blitz in a Democratic primary also featuring Attorney General Andy Beshear and House Minority Floor Leader Rocky Adkins.
"If you've ever prayed your mom's car would start on a cold morning, ever sweated the rent, or saw your dad get laid off from the plant, well, we've got something in common," Edelen says in the commercial.
Edelen's father, Larry, was laid off from a chemical plant in Meade County when Edelen was about 12. After losing the job he'd had for about a dozen years, his father went on to become a full-time livestock and grain farmer. Edelen's parents divorced when he was young, and he split his time between Meade County and Louisville, where he attended school.
Edelen went on to the University of Kentucky and eventually became chief of staff to Andy Beshear's father, former Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear, during his first term in office. In business, Edelen formed a consulting firm and joined in several startups in energy technology and sustainability. He is developing a solar power project on a former coal mine in eastern Kentucky.
His ad mentions that his plan for coal-loving Kentucky includes creating thousands of renewable energy jobs.
Edelen also complains in the ad that "big corporations buy politicians so they can get ahead," and says he isn't taking "a dime of corporate PAC money." While looking to rake in smaller donations, Edelen also could look to his running mate — developer and businessman Gill Holland — for fundraising help. Another Edelen supporter has formed a super PAC to boost his run for governor with "independent" expenditures.
Last month, Andy Beshear called on his Democratic rivals to take a pledge against running attack ads against each other ahead of the May 21 primary. Beshear, the son of Bevin's predecessor, is widely seen as the front-runner and he has said a bitter primary would play to Bevin's benefit.
Edelen immediately scoffed at the offer, saying: "This needs to be a marketplace of ideas and it needs to be a race in which iron sharpens iron."
Another Democratic in the running for governor is frequent candidate Geoff Young. In the state's Republican gubernatorial primary, Bevin faces challenges from state Rep. Robert Goforth, William Woods, and Ike Lawrence.
Kentucky is one of three states that will elect governors in 2019, along with Louisiana and Mississippi.