FRANKFORT, Ky. (KT) - Former Gov. and current state Sen. 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 Frankfort Rotarians on Wednesday that he plans to run for the seat in Senate District 7, which covers Franklin, Woodford, Anderson, Owen and Gallatin counties.
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.
“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 1974 to 1979.
Carroll, a western Kentucky native who turned 88 on Tuesday, 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, he returned to elected service by winning the Senate District 7 seat in 2004. He was re-elected three times, twice without opposition.
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 a call by his Democratic colleagues in the Senate to resign immediately.
Graviss currently 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 for Woodford County judge-executive. Graviss won 57 percent of the vote districtwide in beating Republican Dan Fister.