Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Carroll says he will retire, endorses Graviss to succeed him in Senate; Vandegrift considers run for the House

State Sen. Julian Carroll (Legislative Research Commission photo)
By Steve Stewart
The State Journal

Former governor and current state Senator Julian Carroll, D-Frankfort, won’t seek re-election next year and has endorsed state Rep. Joe Graviss, D-Versailles, as his successor.

Graviss, a former McDonald’s franchisee who won election to the state House in November, told the Frankfort Rotary Club on Wednesday that he plans to run for the seat, which covers Franklin, Woodford, Anderson, Owen and Gallatin counties.

Midway Mayor Grayson Vandegrift told the Midway Messenger Wednesday night that he may run to succeed Graviss. " I’d love to bring my experience as mayor of Midway to Frankfort in representing the 56th District," he said in an email. "There’s still nine months until the filing deadline, and I need to discuss it more with my family, but I’m strongly considering it."

Carroll said in a telephone interview Wednesday afternoon that he informed members of the Senate Democratic Caucus several months ago that he would retire at the end of his current term on Dec. 31, 2020, and that he would support Graviss in the 2020 election.
State Rep. Joe Graviss (LRC photo)

“I told Joe some time ago that I thought he was the most qualified candidate who had talked to me about running,” Carroll said. “He’s done an outstanding job already as a new member of the House. He has been very knowledgeable with the ability to stand on his feet and express himself well and I know that he would be very helpful to our caucus in raising funds and helping elect and re-elect members of our caucus. For that reason, I told him I felt like he was the most qualified candidate that I could think of and that he would have my support.”

Carroll’s retirement will mark the end of a political career that has spanned nearly six decades, including service as governor from December 1974 to December 1979.

A Paducah-area native who turned 88 on Tuesday, Carroll served five terms in the state House, including as speaker from 1968 to 1970. He was elected lieutenant governor in 1971 and assumed the governorship in 1974 when Gov. Wendell Ford was elected to the U.S. Senate. In 1975, Carroll sought and won a full four-year term as governor.

After many years of practicing law in Frankfort, and running in the 1987 Democratic primary for governor, he returned to elected service by winning the Senate District 7 seat in 2004. He was re-elected three times, twice without opposition. The other time, he beat Graviss in a primary.

In 2017, the Senate Democratic Caucus removed Carroll as caucus whip after Spectrum News reported allegations by a male photographer that Carroll had groped him and propositioned him for sex in 2005. Carroll refused Senate Democrats' call for him to resign.

Graviss represents House District 56, covering Woodford County and parts of Franklin and Fayette counties. He succeeded Rep. James Kay, D-Versailles, who did not run for re-election last year, opting instead to run unopposed for Woodford County judge-executive. Graviss won 57 percent of the vote in beating Republican Dan Fister.

Information for this story was also gathered by the Midway Messenger.

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