- Associated Press - Wednesday, May 13, 2015

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - It has all the makings of a mismatch. Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes has name recognition and a hefty amount of campaign cash for her re-election bid, while her primary election challenger is a little-known newcomer who hasn’t sought campaign donations.

Charles Lovett of Louisville said his desire for public service led him to challenge one of Kentucky’s best-known Democrats in next Tuesday’s primary. Looking back, he concedes: “I probably should have started out in a smaller race. But it’s one of those things - you go big or you go home.”

Grimes, 36, is back on the ballot a few months after her grueling 2014 campaign for the U.S. Senate ended in a lopsided loss to now-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. The Republican turned the race into a referendum on President Barack Obama, who is unpopular in Kentucky.

Now looking to keep her statehouse job, Grimes said she has delivered on her promises - guaranteeing ballot-box access for all eligible Kentuckians and creating a business-friendly office.

“I am more resolved now than ever to continue to be the voice that Kentuckians overwhelmingly elected me to be for them back in 2011,” Grimes said. “I hope that they know I’m not discouraged but only encouraged.”

The Democratic nominee will face Republican Steve Knipper of Independence in the November election.

The secretary of state oversees elections for public offices and the incorporation of businesses in Kentucky. The office has a budget of about $3.4 million and a staff of 30 people.

As the state’s chief election official, Grimes said she successfully pushed for legislation that strengthened absentee voting protections for military members and other Kentuckians overseas. She also touted legislation allowing domestic violence and sexual assault victims to remove their addresses from public voter registration records in an attempt to stay safe from their abusers.

Grimes also said her office has cut red tape for businesses filing to operate in Kentucky.

“So businesses can go about doing what they do best, which is help to create jobs, and spend less time interacting with state government,” she said.

If re-elected, Grimes said, she would promote legislation allowing Kentuckians to register to vote electronically. More than half the states have embraced electronic voter registration, and the system has worked well and cut costs, Grimes said.

“It’s time for Kentucky to do the same,” she said.

Lovett, 30, said he’s a political outsider who isn’t “piggybacking off my connections.” If elected, he said, one of his goals would be “making sure that no Kentuckian is kept from the polls or left feeling like their voice doesn’t matter.”

While Lovett said he hasn’t raised campaign funds, Grimes reported having $166,739 on hand in her latest campaign-finance report.

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