A third-party candidate in the Kentucky Senate race has accused Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes’s campaign of trying to buy him out of the race.
Ed Marksberry claims in a 15-page missive that affiliates of her campaign offered him and his campaign manager benefits in exchange for his full exit from the race. Marksberry dropped out of the Democratic primary last year to run as an independent after alleging the state party inappropriately favored Lundergan Grimes.
An official with Grimes's campaign said Marksberry's claims are not true.
“That did not happen. We appreciate Ed’s support and wish him the best," the official said. "The Democratic party has very much united around our campaign. Momentum continues to build around the campaign, underscoring the fact that Kentuckians are overwhelmingly ready for a U.S. Senator who will fight for them.”
Marksberry says he offered his help to the campaign, but was instead met with requests to drop out of the race — an indication, he was told, that Lundergan Grimes’s campaign found him to be a threat.
“They said that Jerry really liked me and that Jerry takes care of his friends. And if Alison wins, there could be a favor owed to me. Whatever that means, I don’t know, but I took it that if I ever needed some help in the future, I could call in my political equity with him,” he added.
Marksberry says he proposed her campaign hire his campaign manager and pay a debt he owed to his Web designer and, in return, he would stop actively fundraising and eventually drop out of the race.
He said, however, that when he contacted Lundergan Grimes adviser Jonathan Hurst about the deal, Hurst appeared to know nothing about the offer and “started to panic,” out of concern that Sen. Mitch McConnell’s (R-Ky.) campaign would use it against them. Marksberry dismissed that potential fallout, suggesting it would be easily forgotten in just a few weeks.
Marksberry’s connection to the campaign then told him the deal was off and to “lie low,” he writes, but shortly after Hurst called again to tell him the deal was on.
“I didn’t like what I just witnessed; they showed a lack of being cool under pressure and made me feel like a cheap prostitute,” Marksberry writes.
Some political observers believe Marksberry could have complicated Lundergan Grimes’s shot at defeating McConnell, whom Democrats believe to be vulnerable heading into reelection due to polling showing him unpopular in his home state.
Marksberry had the potential to split the far-left vote and deliver McConnell a win with a plurality of voters in the general.
When he left the Democratic primary initially, Marksberry told local news site WFPL that no one had asked him to step down — a contradiction of the document released on Tuesday. In a Tuesday interview with the Courier-Journal, he said that he had initially lied.
“I lied to him. I didn’t want to hurt anybody so I lied to him. I told him no one made me an offer.”
He wrote in the document that he was revealing the details about his campaign because of his “disappointment with the system.”
“I hope it plays a small part of exposing the dark nature of political campaigns and the disconnect these machines have from really tackling our problems,” he said.
—This piece was updated at 6:20 p.m.