Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

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July 10, 2014

Grayson talks politics, education in Morehead

ASHLAND — Former Kentucky Secretary of State Trey Grayson spoke to students in the Governor’s Scholars Program at Morehead State University about being in the program himself 25 years ago and his road to political success since.

Grayson, who was the youngest secretary of state in the U.S. when he was elected in 2003, also gave insight into how he felt when he was beaten in the 2010 U.S. Senate race against Sen. Rand Paul.

Despite the harrowing defeat, he told students he was not ready for political retirement.

“I’d love to run for office again,” he told students during a question and answer period, adding he would be more interested in a statewide office instead of a national one.

Following Grayson’s loss against Paul, he finished out his last term as secretary of state and moved to Boston in 2011, where he served as director for Harvard’s Institute for Politics.

Now that he is back in the Bluegrass, there has been talk about Grayson’s possible resurgence in the political community.

For now, he is a member of the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, tackling economic issues in the state’s fastest growing economic region.

But even though he temporarily left Kentucky, he has faithfully returned to speak to GSP students each year.

He said his GSP experience on Centre College’s campus in Danville majorly influenced his future successes.

“It has played a pivotal role in where I am today and was pretty much the best five weeks of my life,” he said.

He said the friendships he made during the program have lasted through the years and provided him with important dialogue growing up that inspired his focus on Kentucky political issues later on.

He said, “I think that because of the friendships, traveling across the state and talking about the state and its hard problems, economic problems, educational challenges, we were able to say, ‘You know, this state is screwed up. I want to come back and get involved and I want to fix this. I want to volunteer, run for office, open up a business, be a teacher. I want to get involved because this state needs leadership.’”

He added had these friendships not formed in the way they did, or been enabled by the GSP program, he does not think he would have ever run for office.

One student from Louisville asked Grayson to share advice to young people looking to become politicians.

Grayson said it is most important to have a solid foundation for why they would want to run, because it will be challenged during the race.

He said if they are religious, they can also rely on their faith to help them through the hard times of politics, as he had to do after his senate race loss.

“Most people who run for office lose, because there are more candidates than offices ... And I hadn’t lost before,” he said. When he was elected in 2003, it was his first run for office. He was reelected at the expiration of his first term, so his loss to Paul was the first time he had been beaten.

He said he was favored to win because he was the hand-picked candidate of senior Sen. Mitch McConnell, making the sting of defeat more painful.

“It (My loss) was plastered all over every headline in America,” he continued. “So that was hard. It was kind of hard, but that sort of faith, and my friends and family, and me thinking, ‘You know, why am I doing this?’ It helped me get through that.”

LANA BELLAMY can be reached at lbellamy@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2653. For Twitter updates, follow @lanabellamy_DI.

 

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