Anonymous pollster looking at 2015 KY Democratic gubernatorial primary, Heyburn ruling (UPDATES)

We received word tonight from a Democrat in Kentucky (who chooses not to be named) who just received an automated telephone survey asking questions about potential Democratic candidates for governor in 2015, as well as the final ruling today by Judge Heyburn striking down Kentucky’s ban on recognizing same-sex marriages performed in other states. The pollster did not reveal their identity in the call.

Here were the questions (not word for word, but the gist):

1. Gubernatorial horse race question between Crit Luallen, Jack Conway, Adam Edelen, Greg Stumbo and Dan Mongiardo.

2. Head-to-head Jack Conway vs. Crit Luallen.

3. Support for gay marriage.

4. Should Conway use tax dollars to appeal the Heyburn decision?

5. If Conway does appeal, would that make you more or less likely to support him in the gubernatorial race?

Fascinating. So who paid for that poll? Random pollster interested in Kentucky’s dynamics? Kentucky Democratic Party? Jack Conway allies (with finger waving in the wind)? Another potential 2015 candidate?

There’s a lot riding on Jack Conway’s decision on the Heyburn ruling, and not just the equality of all same-sex couples in the state looking for equal protection under the law. It’s easy to say that an appeal by Conway would strengthen his appeal to general election voters — at least for right now, times are changing fast — but it’s just as easy to say that fighting the Heyburn ruling could seriously harm him in a competitive primary race, as most Democrats will firmly stand on the side of equality by this time next year. The Bluegrass Poll showed that Democrats already support it by a 45 to 43 percent margin. Adam Edelen, for one, came out in favor of same-sex marriage rights last year, but the other four listed in the horse race question have not.

Stay tuned, and keep those eyes on Conway’s decision, which should be coming somewhat soon…

***** UPDATE #1 *****

This morning, Adam Edelen’s spokesperson told LEO that he flatly denies having anything to do with last night’s poll.

We also just received an email from Jack Conway’s spokeswoman Allison Martin, who says that the attorney general also denies any involvement with the poll.

“He is aware of it after reading reports,” wrote Martin. “No he is not conducting and he does not know who is conducting it. He said this decision will be made based on the law and the appropriate role of the Office of the Attorney General, not polling.”

We left a phone message for Crit Luallen this morning, and have not heard back from her.

Will update as we hear more…

***** UPDATE #2 (Saturday, March 1) *****

Two more denials of involvement came to us last night from Greg Stumbo and Crit Luallen.

Matt Erwin from Stumbo’s office says the Speaker of the House “had nothing to do with this – first we’ve seen of it.”

Crit Luallen also told LEO that she had nothing to do with the poll and does not know who conducted it. For those of you who suspect the poll is the figment of someone’s imagination, Crit also said that a friend called her Thursday night to say that she had received the same survey.

We just sent out an email this morning to Kim Geveden, Dan Mongiardo’s point person, asking the same of him.

One other note: The person who got the call checked the caller ID to find the number it came from, but it was blocked.

The case continues…

***** UPDATE #3 *****

And now we have a denial from the last of the five candidates in the horse race question, Dan Mongiardo.

Here’s the email we just received from Kim Geveden:

Just talked to Daniel. First he heard about it was just now when I told him and asked if he had any involvement.

Daniel catagorically denies any involvement – directly or indirectly. 

BTW … Daniel made the point that he’s focused on helping ALG against McConnell.  Could care less about the political jockeying for 2015 Governor’s race.

We just sent the same question along to the KDP and Gov. Beshear’s office. Stay tuned…

***** UPDATE #4 *****

KDP chairman Dan Logsdon just called back and says that the KDP and Gov. Beshear had no involvement in or knowledge of the poll.

“The KDP didn’t do a poll,” says Logsdon. “The governor didn’t do a poll. I don’t know anything about the poll. And I’m confident the governor doesn’t know anything about the poll, because he would have told me.”

***** UPDATE #5 *****

R. Wayne Stratton — the treasurer for Jack Conway’s “Jack PAC,” formed in late 2012 — denied that Jack PAC did the poll, and says he had no idea who did.

“No, I do not,” answered Stratton. “And honestly, I’ve been in the Caribbean, so I’m not even sure what Heyburn’s ruling did or was. All I can tell you is we have not paid any money for any polling for Jack PAC.”

Asked if anyone else does work for the PAC on a volunteer basis — it has no official employees — Stratton said that another volunteer in the office writes check, but declined to reveal her identity to LEO.

“No. It’s part of a contract that we have. She’s not in the office today. But as treasurer I have the ultimate responsibility and I just feel like I would need to answer all of those questions.”

The hunt continues…

***** UPDATE #6 (Sunday, March 2) *****

Yet another update, this time from the opposite side of the aisle.

Joe Burgan — adviser to Republican Hal Heiner, whom everyone assumes will announce his run for governor early this week — also categorically denies that Heiner had any knowledge of or involvement with the poll. Scratch another one off the list.

LEO sent the same question to the Republican Party of Kentucky and Scott Jennings (of RunSwitch and Kentuckians for Strong Leadership) this morning and have not heard back from them yet. We’ll let you know when they do.

***** UPDATE #7 *****

Kelsey Cooper, spokeswoman for the RPK, says: “No one at the Republican Party of Kentucky had anything to do with this poll, and we do not have any idea as to who conducted it.”

***** UPDATE #8 *****

Scott Jennings denies, too.

“We don’t know who conducted the survey, and we aren’t involved with it.”

***** UPDATE #9 *****

A very interesting possible development on the poll tonight. The Herald Leader ran a story about a new poll from GOP polling firm Public Opinion Strategies showing James Comer beating Hal Heiner in the 2015 Republican gubernatorial primary 42 to 14 percent. People close to Heiner suspect that Comer was behind the poll, but their pollster says “the poll was not paid for by any candidate, prospective candidate or political action committee.”

The really interesting news about this poll? It was conducted on March 26 and 27, meaning they were in the field on the same day that the mystery Democrats/Conway/Heyburn poll was (last Thursday).

That certainly raises an eyebrow, but via email, Robert Blizzard of POS denied to LEO tonight that they asked any questions about Democrats, gay marriage, or the Heyburn ruling, answering: “Wasn’t me.”

Blizzard followed up by stating he “did a 400 sample of GOP primary voters with live callers (we don’t do robo polls). So, that should take me out of the running on a Democratic primary survey poll.”

I thought for a second that the case was finally cracked, but the mystery remains.

Someone is almost certainly lying about this poll, the only question is who…


  1. Buck Feshear
    Posted February 28, 2014 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

    Jack Conway’s duty is to defend Kentucky’s law and constitution. His personal beliefs don’t matter. Neither do the political ramifications. And Eric Holder’s gratuitous meddling to give him cover should he make a political decision that will appeal to a portion of the Democrat electorate shouldn’t matter. Conway has one job. If he doesn’t do it, he should be removed from office.

  2. Steve Magruder
    Posted March 3, 2014 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

    “March 26 and 27″ -> “February 26 and 27″, I presume.

    To Buck: the U.S. Constitution has primacy with regards to “full faith and credit” and “equal protection”, and Conway is also beholden to that document, I’m sure you are aware. Conway could also rationally conclude that there is nearly no possibility of prevailing upon appeal. It’s not about personal beliefs — it’s about the U.S. Constitution and related case law.

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