2011 Kentucky Secretary of State election

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2011 Kentucky Secretary of State election

← 2007 November 8, 2011 2015 →
  Alison Lundergan Grimes by Gage Skidmore (cropped).jpg 3x4.svg
Nominee Alison Lundergan Grimes Bill Johnson
Party Democratic Republican
Popular vote 494,368 321,065
Percentage 60.63% 39.37%

Kentucky Secretary of State Election Results by County, 2011.svg
County results
Grimes:      50–60%      60–70%      70–80%      80–90%
Johnson:      50–60%      60–70%      70–80%

Secretary of State before election

Elaine Walker

Elected Secretary of State

Alison Lundergan Grimes

The state of Kentucky elected a Secretary of State on Tuesday, November 8, 2011. Primaries for this election were held on Tuesday, May 17, 2011.[1] In the general election, Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes defeated Republican Bill Johnson.


Secretary of State Elaine Walker, a Democrat and former mayor of Bowling Green, was appointed on January 29, 2011 to fill the unexpired term of Trey Grayson. Grayson, a Republican, ran in the 2010 race for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate, but he lost in the Republican primary to Rand Paul (who went on to be elected to the Senate). Grayson subsequently resigned to take a position at the Harvard Institute of Politics. On January 7, 2011, Governor Steve Beshear announced that he would appoint Walker as the new Secretary of State of Kentucky, following Trey Grayson's announcement of resignation.

Walker was sworn in on January 29, 2011, inside Supreme Court chambers.[2] Walker was eligible to run for a full term and has indicated she would do so.[3] However, she was defeated in the Democratic primary by Alison Lundergan Grimes, a Lexington lawyer and the daughter of former Kentucky Democratic Party State Chairman Jerry Lundergan who is supported by a faction of the state's Democratic establishment. Grimes announced her candidacy at rallies in three cities attended by Lieutenant Governor Daniel Mongiardo, state House Speaker Greg Stumbo and former Governor and current state Senator Julian Carroll, and Democratic consultant Dale Emmons, who is working for Grimes' campaign, said she also has the endorsements of U.S. Representative Ben Chandler and Lexington Mayor Jim Gray. The contested primary was the result of a long-standing feud among Kentucky Democrats.[4] Joseph Gerth, a columnist for the Louisville Courier-Journal, wrote that "the betting money is that the selection of Walker is more about an old political grudge between Beshear and former Democratic Chairman Jerry Lundergan than it is about getting a rural Democrat on the November ballot."[5]

Democratic State Representative Jody Richards of Bowling Green had been mentioned as a possible candidate for secretary of state, but he said on November 8 that he was not interested in running. Other Democrats that had been mentioned as possible candidates are state Senator Ed Worley of Richmond, Louisville attorney Jennifer Moore and former Miss America Heather French Henry, the wife of former Lieutenant Governor Steve Henry.[6]

Bill Johnson, a businessman from Todd County in Western Kentucky, briefly ran in the Republican primary for U.S. Senate in 2010, but withdrew from the race in March after polls showed him trailing Trey Grayson and Rand Paul. He enjoyed Tea Party support during his abortive run for Senate and finished third in the primary election with 7,861 votes (2.2 percent) despite his withdrawal.[6] On May 26, 2010, following his withdrawal from the race, it was reported that Johnson was considering running for governor in 2011, with Republican state Senator Damon Thayer of Georgetown on the ticket as the candidate for lieutenant governor.[7] In August, Johnson told the media that it was unlikely he would run for governor, but he was looking at the 2011 races for secretary of state or auditor.[8]

On August 30, 2010, Johnson announced his intent to run again, either in 2011 for Secretary of State or for state Senate, against Democratic Senator Joey Pendleton. Johnson also said that "If I run for secretary of state and fail, I am done with politics. I have one race in me." He also stated that he would not tap his personal wealth to fund his campaign, as he did with his bid for the U.S. Senate.[9] Johnson confirmed on September 28, 2010, that he would seek the Republican nomination for Secretary of State. Johnson was the first candidate to officially file to run in any of the 2011 statewide races.[10] Johnson served in U.S. Navy for ten years and later lived in Florence for five years while working for General Electric in Cincinnati.[11] He is a former procurement manager at BP and is now a substitute teacher.[6]

On January 25, 2011, Hilda Gay Legg of Somerset became the second Republican candidate to file for secretary of state.[12] Legg was co-chair of the Appalachian Regional Commission from 1990 to 1993 under George H. W. Bush and administrator of the Department of Agriculture's Rural Utilities Service under George W. Bush.[13] Originally from Adair County and a graduate of Campbellsville University and Western Kentucky University, Legg is the former Executive Director/CEO of the Center for Rural Development in Somerset.[14]

Primary election[edit]

On May 17, 2011, Alison Lundergan Grimes defeated appointed incumbent Elaine Walker to win the Democrat nomination for Secretary of State. Republican Bill Johnson defeated Hilda Legg to win the Republican nomination for Secretary of State by a margin of 51-49%. Legg later called a recanvass to ensure the results were correct, resulting in the certification of Bill Johnson as the nominee.

2011 Kentucky Secretary of State Democratic primary results
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Alison Lundergan Grimes 85,436 55.26
Democratic Elaine Walker (Incumbent) 69,185 44.74
Total votes 154,621 100



  • Bill Johnson - Todd County businessman; sought the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate in 2010 before dropping out of the race.
  • Hilda Gay Legg (defeated in primary)


General election[edit]


Poll source Date(s)
Margin of
Lundergan Grimes (D)
Johnson (R)
Public Policy Polling August 25–28, 2011 600 ± 4.0% 38% 35% 26%


2011 Kentucky Secretary of State General Election results
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Alison Lundergan Grimes 494,368 60.63
Republican Bill Johnson 321,065 39.37
Total votes 815,433 100
Democratic hold

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Secretary of State, Election Calendar Archived November 24, 2010, at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ Cate Slattery, "Secretary of State Designee Sworn-in Archived February 5, 2011, at the Wayback Machine" (January 29, 2011), WTVQ.
  3. ^ [1]
  4. ^ Jack Brammer, "Democratic feud showcased in race for secretary of state" (January 21, 2011), Lexington Herald-Leader.
  5. ^ Joseph Gerth, "Steve Beshear's curious choice for Kentucky secretary of state" (January 23, 2011), Louisville Courier-Journal.
  6. ^ a b c Jack Brammer, "Bill Johnson files to run for secretary of state (November 8, 2010). "Bluegrass Politics," Lexington Herald-Leader.
  7. ^ Jack Brammer, "Republican Bill Johnson mulling run for governor" (May 26, 2010), "Lexington Herald-Leader.
  8. ^ Jack Brammer, "Johnson unlikely to run for governor; Thayer would like to run with Williams" (August 3, 2010). "Bluegrass Politics," Lexington Herald-Leader.
  9. ^ Ryan Alessi, "Bill Johnson says he'll run once more – for secretary of state or state Senate" (August 31, 2010), cn|2 Politics.
  10. ^ Jacque Day, "Todd County's Bill Johnson first candidate to file paperwork" (November 8, 2010), WKMS.
  11. ^ Amanda Van Benschoten, "Bill Johnson to Run For Secretary of State in 2011" (September 29, 2010), Cincinnati Enquirer.
  12. ^ Jack Brammer, "Two Republican women file for statewide offices" (January 25, 2011), Lexington Herald-Leader.
  13. ^ "Hilda Gay Legg Archived June 29, 2011, at the Wayback Machine," Rural Utilities Service.
  14. ^ Jay Marchmon, "Legg announces bid for Kentucky Secretary of State Archived July 18, 2011, at the Wayback Machine" (January 24, 2011), WPSD-TV.

External links[edit]