|Democratic nominee for
U.S. Senator from Kentucky
November 4, 2008
|Opponent(s)||Mitch McConnell (R)|
November 11, 1947 |
Kenton County, Kentucky
|Alma mater||University of Kentucky,
Salmon P. Chase College of Law
William Bruce Lunsford (born November 11, 1947) is an American Democratic politician from Kentucky. He has served various roles in the Kentucky Democratic Party including, Party treasurer, Deputy Development Secretary, and Head of Commerce. Lunsford was the Democratic nominee for Kentucky's United States Senate seat, but was defeated by Mitch McConnell in the November 4, 2008 election.
- 1 Early life and education
- 2 Business career
- 3 Political Career/Public Service
- 4 Electoral history
- 5 See also
- 6 References
- 7 External links
- 8 Media Reactions to 2008 Race
Early life and education
Bruce Lunsford was born in Kenton County, Kentucky on November 11, 1947 to Amos and Billie Lunsford; Lunsford's mother, Billie, was later killed in an automobile accident by a drunk driver. When Lunsford was a child, his father left his job as a union shop steward for General Electric Cincinnati and borrowed money to purchase a small farm in Piner, Kentucky, where Lunsford spent his childhood.
In high school, Lunsford became an all-conference basketball player at Simon Kenton High School, and was also a five-year starter on the baseball team.
When he enrolled at University of Kentucky in 1965, he worked as an intramural adviser on campus and joined the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity. Lunsford graduated with a political science degree in 1969, with a minor in accounting.
After graduation, Lunsford went to work for a Cincinnati accounting firm, passed the CPA exam and became a Certified Public Accountant in 1970. That fall, he started taking evening classes at the Salmon P. Chase College of Law, and graduated in the top ten percent of his class in 1974.
Lunsford entered the National Guard during law school. After training at Fort Bragg and Fort Lee, he became a member of the U.S. Army Reserves at Fort Thomas, where he stayed for five and a half years.
He recently donated $1 million to Salmon P. Chase College of Law
Lunsford and two other partners founded Vencor in 1985. Originally the company was called Vencare, but an initial public offering was registered under the name Vencor in 1989. At one point during Lunsford's tenure, Vencor grew to employ over 65,000 people in 45 states, with more than 300 facilities caring for 50,000 patients. Vencor also became a Fortune 500 company.
In 1998, Vencor was split into two companies. One company, Ventas became a real estate investment trust (REIT) which owned all of the real-estate property, and leased space to the second company, Vencor, which operated the facilities. At the time, Vencor was expanding rapidly, and it considered that using a REIT provided a better financing structure to allow the companies to grow. At the time of the split, all shareholders in Vencor were issued one share of Ventas for every share of Vencor that they held.
In 1997, the US Government drastically reduced Medicare reimbursement rates with the passage of the Balanced Budget Act of 1997, which had a significant impact on the nursing home industry. New York Times business writer Kenneth Gilpin wrote that "The drop in payments was so dramatic that the financial structures of many of these companies were not flexible enough to adjust." He went on the mention that as of the summer of 1999, 12 percent of the 1.7 million nursing home beds were operating under Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
As a result of the Medicare cuts, Vencor filed for Chapter 11 protection from bankruptcy in September 1999. At the time, five of the top seven nursing homes filed for chapter 11 protection from bankruptcy, however Vencor (then Kindred) was the first to emerge. Vencor was renamed Kindred healthcare in 2001.
During the Chapter 11 reorganization, Vencor shares lost their value; however, Ventas shares improved from below $4 per share in 1999 to trading around $50 per share in April 2008.
Lunsford served as the CEO of both companies until resigning in 1999, and remained the Chairman of Ventas until 2003.
A civil claims suit in 2001 alleged that Vencor knowingly submitted false claims to Medicare, Medicaid, and TRICARE, the military's health care program. Vencor maintained that they had committed no wrongdoing and continued to dispute the claims until after Lunsford left the company. Vencor later settled the case for $104.5 million, including $54 million for alleged improper claims in Medicare cost reports, $24 million for alleged overbilling in respiratory care services, and $20 million for alleged failure of care claims. The company did not admit any wrongdoing in the settlement.
Lunsford has been involved as an investor, director and adviser to many other start-up businesses through Lunsford Capital and has also been active in thoroughbred horse racing and independent film production.
Lunsford has raced several graded stakes winners, including Madcap Escapade, First Samurai, Tessa Blue and Bel Air Beauty. Through Hart-Lunsford Pictures, he has co-produced several acclaimed independent films, including Grace is Gone, Diminished Capacity, Dedication, Birds of America, and Me and Orson Welles.
Political Career/Public Service
Roles in Brown administration
In the 1979 race for Governor of Kentucky, Lunsford became the Northern Kentucky representative for the campaign of John Y. Brown Jr. When Brown won the primary Lunsford became treasurer of the Kentucky Democratic Party.
When Brown won the general election, he made Lunsford the Deputy Development Secretary, then his Legislative Liaison. Lunsford was named Kentucky's first Secretary of Commerce in 1980, the head of Kentucky's first Commerce Cabinet. In that post, Lunsford marketed the state as a business destination and helped land more than 55,000 new jobs and $4.6 billion in new manufacturing investment.
Some of the significant projects Lunsford negotiated included setting up the United Parcel Service Hub in Louisville, the Delta Airlines Hub in Northern Kentucky and downtown redevelopment projects in Ashland, Lexington and Louisville. Lunsford also led the effort to reach out to Japan by establishing a Kentucky office there, still in existence today, which has been instrumental in attracting substantial Japanese investment to the state.
Lunsford has always worked in education and served on the Board of Trustees of the University of Kentucky, Bellarmine College and Centre College.
Lunsford ran for the Democratic nomination for Governor of Kentucky in 2003. The race was a contentious contest with then-Attorney General Ben Chandler and other candidates. Late in the primary, Chandler ran television ads alleging abuse at facilities operated by Lunsford's company. Lunsford dropped out of the race, blaming these ads, just days before the primary, endorsing Democratic candidate Jody Richards, who lost narrowly to Chandler.
Long after the primary, Lunsford endorsed Republican candidate Ernie Fletcher. After Fletcher won the election, Lunsford served on Ernie Fletcher's transition team, as Chairman of the Blue Ribbon Commission on Governmental Efficiency and Organization. Lunsford has contributed thousands of dollars to both Democrats and Republicans over a period of twenty years.
Lunsford was a Democratic candidate for Governor of Kentucky in 2007. His running mate was Greg Stumbo, Attorney General of Kentucky. Lunsford placed second in the primary to Steve Beshear. Lunsford won just over 74,000 votes (21%), beating former Lieutenant Governor of Kentucky Steve Henry and Speaker of the Kentucky House of Representatives Jody Richards, but finishing far behind winner Beshear's 142,000+ votes (41%).
2008 Campaign for United States Senate
On January 29, 2008, Lunsford announced that he would run in the Democratic primary in hopes of facing Mitch McConnell in the general election for the Senate in November 2008. He said he had been asked to run by Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear and that he did not expect to spend the millions he had spent on his campaign in previous elections.
On May 20, 2008, Lunsford won the Democratic nomination for US Senate. He received 316,763 votes (51%), followed by Greg Fischer's 209,662 votes (34%).
The general election campaign saw Lunsford start the race as a heavy underdog to Mitch McConnell, only to turn it into the race of McConnell's career as the economic crisis deepened and played to the businessman's expertise and populist policy stance.
It was this surge that led Democratic President Bill Clinton, Senator Hillary Clinton, and former Senators Max Cleland and Bob Kerrey to campaign for Lunsford, attempting to counter the 2-to-1 spending advantage and $20+ million war chest of incumbent Sen. Mitch McConnell.
On Election Day, Lunsford was defeated but outperformed Barack Obama at the top of the ticket by 10%.
Lunsford will now likely pursue various business interests.
2008 United States Senate General Election
|2008 Kentucky U.S. Senator general election|
2008 United States Senate Election, Democratic Primary
|Primary – May 20, 2008|
|Candidate Name||Vote Percent|
2007 Kentucky Gubernatorial Election, Democratic Primary
|Democratic Primary Election, May 22|
- Biography, voting record, and interest group ratings at Project Vote Smart
- Financial information (federal office) at the Federal Election Commission
- Issue positions and quotes at On the Issues
- Campaign contributions from OpenSecrets.org
- Bruce Lunsford at the Open Directory Project
- Hart-Lunsford Pictures official website of the film production company
Media Reactions to 2008 Race
- Herald-Leader: McConnell Wins 5th Term in U.S. Senate
- Courier-Journal: McConnell Wins, Holds off Lunsford[dead link]
- Courier-Journal: McConnell Turns Back Challenger
- WCPO: Lunsford Urges McConnell to Work With Obama Administration[dead link]
- Cincinnati Business Journal: McConnell Keeps Seat in Squeaker
- WTVQ: McConnell Headed for 5th Term[dead link]
- The Hill: McConnell Wins, Spares GOP Major Loss
- Politico: McConnell Survives Close Kentucky Race
- Skiba, Katherine (November 4, 2008). "Kentucky Republican McConnell Survives Political Battle of His Career". U.S. News and Report. Archived from the original on April 2, 2009. Retrieved April 2, 2009.
|Party political offices
Lois Combs Weinberg
|Democratic nominee for United States Senator from Kentucky