Democratic Candidates for Governor Avoiding Ties to Clinton

After introducing Clinton as “the next president” in 2014, Kentucky Democrat Jack Conway dodged a question about the presidential race in a debate Wednesday.

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, September 10, 2015.
Scott Olson AFP/Getty
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Karyn Bruggeman
Sept. 30, 2015, 12:01 p.m.

As Hil­lary Clin­ton battles the per­cep­tion that she’s strug­gling to win over sup­port in the 2016 pres­id­en­tial race, Demo­crats run­ning for gov­ernor in 2015 are avoid­ing as­so­ci­ation with her as they fin­ish their cam­paigns.

In a de­bate Wed­nes­day morn­ing, Ken­tucky At­tor­ney Gen­er­al Jack Con­way, the Demo­crats’ nom­in­ee for gov­ernor in the state, de­clined to say who he would sup­port for pres­id­ent next year. Con­way sug­ges­ted he might con­sider back­ing Vice Pres­id­ent Joe Biden if he joined the race, cit­ing his friend­ship with Biden’s son, the late Delaware At­tor­ney Gen­er­al Beau Biden.

“I’m go­ing to say this. Out of re­spect for my dear friend, the former at­tor­ney gen­er­al of Delaware, I’m go­ing to say I in­tend to vote for the Demo­crat­ic nom­in­ee. I just don’t know who that is yet,” Con­way said.

That’s not the tune Con­way was singing in 2014. Con­way in­tro­duced Clin­ton at a rally for Ken­tucky Demo­crats’ Sen­ate nom­in­ee, Al­is­on Lun­der­gan Grimes, last year, where Con­way said: “I have a dis­tinct hon­or to­night. I stand here on this stage where soon you will hear from the next pres­id­ent of the United States.” Amer­ica Rising, the Re­pub­lic­an op­pos­i­tion re­search group, cap­tured the mo­ment on video.

But Clin­ton’s stock has tumbled since then—when some Demo­crats were mus­ing that she could help the party re­cov­er in con­ser­vat­ive areas that had drif­ted away dur­ing Pres­id­ent Obama’s ad­min­is­tra­tion. Clin­ton has struggled to deal with the con­tro­versy over her private email serv­er and fight off a sharp rise in the primary polls by in­de­pend­ent Sen. Bernie Sanders of Ver­mont. Clin­ton so far has no events planned to help Demo­crats in Ken­tucky this year.

Demo­crats’ lead­ing gubernat­ori­al can­did­ate in Louisi­ana has also taken steps to avoid Clin­ton. State Rep. John Bel Ed­wards cited a schedul­ing con­flict earli­er in Septem­ber that pre­ven­ted him from ap­pear­ing at a Clin­ton fun­draiser in Bat­on Rouge—an ex­cuse we’ve heard of­ten from some Demo­crat­ic can­did­ates dodging ap­pear­ances with Pres­id­ent Obama in re­cent years.

The Comprehensive Supercut of Hillary Clinton Laughing Awkwardly with Reporters


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