FRANKFORT, Ky. — Many conservative Republicans concede that Secretary of State Trey Grayson is their party's likely nominee in Kentucky's 2010 U.S. Senate race now that incumbent Sen. Jim Bunning has quit the contest, but the thought makes them uneasy.
Some Republicans in the state wonder whether the former Democrat — Grayson voted for Bill Clinton in 1992 — is a true conservative who is tough enough to withstand an intense statewide race that will garner national attention.
"I hope the GOP doesn’t nominate another Arlen Specter as its 2010 nominee," State Rep. Jamie Comer of Tompkinsville said on his Facebook page Monday night after Bunning decided not to seek a third term and Grayson said he will formally enter the race.
Specter was a longtime Republican U.S. senator from Pennsylvania who became a Democrat in April.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Idaho Statesman
Comer said in an interview Tuesday that he had no Kentucky candidate in mind when he wrote the Specter line.
"I was just saying that I don't want a candidate who says one thing in Northern Kentucky and says something else in Monroe County (in Southern Kentucky)," Comer said.
Comer said he thinks Grayson, 37, of Richwood in Boone County, is the party's frontrunner, "but a lot of people don't know where he stands on the issues.
"He needs to do a better job in defining his ideology. We know he's a smart, honest, good guy. We want to know where he stands on the issues and if he will stand by them whatever comes along."
That's what Jim Bunning did, he said.
Republican political consultant Ted Jackson of Louisville agreed that Grayson has something to prove to conservative Republicans.
"I like his odds of being the Republican nominee next year but, to my knowledge, Trey has never been in a bare-knuckle campaign," Jackson said.
Read more at Kentucky.com