LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Matt Jones is taking the first step in a run for the U.S. Senate in Kentucky.
The Kentucky Sports Radio host announced on the station's website Thursday that he is forming an exploratory committee to help decide on a possible 2020 Senate race.
During a news conference on Aug. 29, Jones outlined his reasoning for considering a run for the U.S. Senate.
"I have a voice in the state where I can talk to people that very few Democrats can talk to," he said. "And they will listen to me."
Jones is well-known for talking UK sports, and now he's talking seriously about possibly challenging Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
"I genuinely believe Mitch McConnell is a huge detriment to Kentucky, and a huge detriment to America," Jones said.
Before that would happen, he would first face former Marine combat aviator Amy McGrath and political newcomer Mike Broihier in the Democratic primary in May. The winner of that election would face McConnell in November 2020, as he runs for a seventh term.
Jones had no comment when asked about his chances of beating McGrath, who is backed by national Democrats and considered the early front runner in the Democratic primary.
"If you run against Mitch McConnell and you win, you're making history," Jones said. "And if you do that by also running against the establishment of the Democrat party, and you win, you can be a senator that actually works for Kentuckians. And you're not beholden to anybody."
Forming an exploratory committee will allow Jones to raise money to cover costs of research and polling for a potential run, but he cannot actually campaign. He had already planned to travel the state to gather material for an anti-McConnell book. Now he'll test the political waters for himself.
"I get the sense that people across the state don't like what the party has chosen for them, not just in this race, but in a lot of races," Jones said. "But now let's go see if that's the case."
Jones was released from his job as host of "Hey, Kentucky" at WLEX in Lexington earlier this month. The station said the decision was over Jones' possible run for U.S. Senate and his release of a book titled "Mitch, Please."
On his radio show Thursday morning, Jones said he was going on a seven-week book tour, visiting every county in the state, and using that time to talk with citizens and gather input on the possible run.
Jones says he'll wait until after the governor's race is over in November to make a final decision.
"If Matt Bevin wins, it will make it much more difficult," he said. "I'm not going to say it's definitive in either way, but it'll be a piece of information."
Asked if forming the exploratory committee indicated he was leaning towards running, Jones said "it is a step toward running. I am more likely (to run) than I was yesterday."
He also said he would not be taken off the radio, but has been asked by management not to advocate for a potential run.
When a McConnell campaign manager was asked about Jones' exploratory committee, the reply was: "Let us know when he's explored his way out of the primary."
Jones admits beating McConnell is a tall order.
"It might blow up, it might be terrible," Jones said. "But it also might be pretty interesting."
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