State Rep. Joe Graviss, D-Versailles, is running for the 7th Senate District seat to replace Sen. Julian Carroll, who announced last spring that he will not run for reelection.
“While I have thoroughly appreciated my time in the Kentucky House, I filed to run for this open Senate seat to ensure Central Kentucky continues to have a strong voice on the issues that matter most to those who live and work here,” said Graviss, whose 56th House District includes all of Woodford and portions of Franklin and Fayette counties. “I’ve learned a tremendous amount over the past 12 months, and that means I’ll be ready to serve on day one in the Senate. If voters give me a chance, I will fight even harder for our state and local government employees, public education and strengthening our already vibrant economy, which is the bedrock for everything else we want to do.”
Carroll previously endorsed Graviss as his successor in the Senate district covering Anderson, Franklin, Gallatin, Owen and Woodford counties. Rocky Adkins and Crit Luallen also have endorsed Graviss.
Adkins, a former House Democratic Floor Leader who was recently named Gov. Andy Beshear’s senior adviser, cited Graviss’ work ethic in a press release.
“Joe hit the ground running the moment he was sworn into office, and his leadership on public pensions put him at the forefront of that tough issue,” Adkins said. “I haven’t seen a legislator work so hard starting out, and that is why he was appointed to a free conference committee; why he was the author and sponsor of a major pension bill that came before a legislative committee; and why he was on KET’s ‘Kentucky Tonight.’ I’ve never seen that level of engagement before in a legislator’s first year.”
Luallen, a former lieutenant governor, state auditor and cabinet secretary, commended Graviss’ determination to get things done.
“Never have I seen a freshman legislator work so hard for his constituents and all of Kentucky,” she said. “That was especially evident in his advocacy this past summer on behalf of our quasi-government agencies and our public retirement systems. That type of leadership put him front and center in the debate, and it illustrated qualities that will carry him far as a state senator.”
Graviss, a certified public accountant, retired in 2017 after spending nearly 30 years as the owner and operator of nine McDonald’s restaurants in Central Kentucky. Graviss is a graduate of Transylvania University. He’s served on Transylvania University’s Board of Regents as well as Midway College’s Board of Trustees.
Graviss serves as one of two House Democrats on the General Assembly’s Public Pension Oversight Board and is a member of the House’s Agriculture, Local Government and State Government committees. He is also a member of the House Budget Review Subcommittee on Personnel, Public Retirement and Finance.
“I’ve really enjoyed working with other legislators to craft bipartisan bills and to communicate with constituents through my weekly newsletter,” Graviss said. “It also meant a lot to me to recently receive the Champion of Justice Award from the Kentucky Coalition Against Domestic Violence and the Kentucky Association of Sexual Assault Programs. I’ve always done whatever I could to help others, and being a state legislator has enabled me to do even more than I was able to before. It means so much to be given this chance to serve and I’m especially humbled to be the Democrat nominee for the fall election in the 7th Senate District.”
Graviss has also picked up the support of Republican Donna Hartman McKnight, who resides in Graviss’ House district.
“A number of years ago, I worked with Joe on many community projects, and I learned that you can tell the character of an individual by their unrewarded actions,” McKnight said. “Joe worked for the good for all, no matter what the project was. He was dedicated, open and honest and completed many projects for our community that only the individuals who worked with him knew about. I have no doubt he has carried that same honest dedication into his political life to serve all of Kentucky.”
Another of Graviss’ constituents, Robert Riggs, expressed his admiration for Graviss’ ability to work with everyone.
“I appreciate the way he works across the aisle to get along and get things done for his constituents and Kentucky without regards to party affiliation,” Riggs said. “I've seen him get results for me when he didn't have to. He returns my calls, answers my emails, and gotten things done I was surprised haven’t been done before. We need more bipartisan effort and cooperation in Frankfort like I've seen him do."
Graviss and his wife, Debbie, reside on a farm between Frankfort and Versailles.