Game on: Ky. governor endorses Bunning rival in 2010 race

FRANKFORT, Ky. — Gov. Steve Beshear threw his weight behind Lt. Gov. Daniel Mongiardo's run for the U.S. Senate on Friday, delivering a preemptive blow to would-be Democratic competitors for the seat now held by Republican Sen. Jim Bunning.

Beshear endorsed Mongiardo’s run for the 2010 Democratic U.S. Senate primary in a statement released Friday afternoon, saying "more than ever, we need strong representatives in Washington D.C. to give voice to Kentucky priorities and values."

Bunning, R-Southgate, has so far resisted intense pressure from within his own party to drop his re-election bid.

Mongiardo, a former state senator from eastern Kentucky who lost to Bunning by only 1.4 percentage points in 2004, welcomed Beshear’s endorsement, calling his boss "a trusted mentor and partner."

Kim Geveden, a spokesman for Mongiardo’s campaign, said Mongiardo will stay on as lieutenant governor "until he wins the November 2010 election."

He said Beshear's endorsement is "expected to help unify Democrats around Mongiardo in the coming months as he begins to launch a more vigorous campaign."