FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — One of Kentucky's most recognizable political figures is letting a bevy of would-be candidates know they may have to get past him if they want to be the state's next governor.
Democratic Attorney General Jack Conway told The Associated Press he's taking "a very, very serious look" at running in the 2015 election, a move that could ward off some potential challengers for his party's nomination to replace Gov. Steve Beshear.
"To me, it's still awfully early," he said Friday. "But there's been a lot of jockeying. It seems the ink wasn't even dry on Steve Beshear's re-election and people were already talking about it."
Three statewide campaigns in the past five years have enhanced Conway's name recognition. He was elected attorney general in 2007 and re-elected in 2011. He ran in a high-profile race for U.S. Senate in 2010, which he ended up losing to Republican Rand Paul. Altogether, Conway has spent about $10 million in those three races, largely on TV advertising that built his brand.
Conway had about twice that much spent against him, making him a familiar face to nearly every family in Kentucky.
For now, Conway said he intends to concentrate on doing his job as attorney general and will deal with the governor's race later.
"There's still a lot of time," he said. "If I think I can be successful in accomplishing some things, then I will sit down and talk to my family about it, and we'll make a family decision. But I'm going to take a very, very serious look at it."
Other Democrats being touted as potential candidates include Lt. Gov. Jerry Abramson, former Lt. Gov. Daniel Mongiardo, former U.S. Rep. Ben Chandler, Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, House Speaker Greg Stumbo, state Auditor Adam Edelen and former Auditor Crit Luallen.
Pundits are laying odds that Conway and Luallen won't run against each other. The two have been close friends for years.
"Crit and I talk regularly," Conway said. "I don't' think Crit and I will get ourselves in a position where we are trying to beat each other to the punch."
Democrats aren't the only ones talking gubernatorial politics. Republican names being bandied about include Stanford banker Jess Correll, Louisville businesswoman Cathy Bailey, tea party activist Phil Moffett, U.S. Rep. Brett Guthrie and Agriculture Commissioner James Comer.