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Previewing The Kentucky Gubernatorial Primary Previewing The Kentucky Gubernatorial Primary Previewing The Kentucky Gubernatorial Primary Previewing The Kentucky G...

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Politics

Previewing The Kentucky Gubernatorial Primary

May 16, 2011
Williams launched both of his television ads last month. "Tough" and "Vote" were both produced by Washington, D.C.-based media consulting firm FP1 Strategies. Williams' ads feature his running-mate, Agriculture Commissioner Richie Farmer (R), a former University of Kentucky basketball standout. Farmer was originally drafted to be a likable, safe-bet addition to the ticket in an effort to help Williams to earn votes. But he's been plagued by negative headlines about his record and has become a focal point of the primary campaign. "He's upgraded his department's vehicle fleet, including his own taxpayer-financed ride. He's taken aides on an extended trip to a Caribbean conference. He resisted participating in the furlough program for government employees, though he finally relented. He received questionable reimbursements and payments from post-election contributions to his 2007 campaign. His wife, who recently filed for divorce, said in an affidavit that Mr. Farmer denied her access to the couple's funds," the Louisville Courier-Journal editorialized in late April. Add to that an instance in which Farmer opted for taxpayer financed hotel stay 56 miles from his House instead of driving home, and Williams' record of amassing gambling wins and losses despite standing in opposition to expanded gambling in Kentucky, and questions have come up about the fiscal principles of the Williams-Farmer ticket. Defenders of Williams and Farmer note that Beshear's running mate, former Louisville Mayor Jerry Abramson (D), had financial problems of his own during his mayoral tenure, stemming from staffers being paid seemingly high salaries without much work. Polls open at 6 a.m. and close at 6 p.m. local time. Looking ahead: Beshear will head into the general election as the favorite. In a cn|2 poll of likely voters conducted by Braun Research at the end of February and beginning of March, Beshear led Williams 48 percent to 38 percent. Beshear also sports a sizable fundraising advantage over Williams. If Williams wins the GOP primary on Tuesday as expected -- in fact a double-digit victory by Williams in the primary is the prevailing expectation -- the general election will likely turn into a high-profile contest as Democratic Governors Association Chair Martin O'Malley and Republican Governors Association Chair Rick Perry have each pledged support. Eastern Kentucky should prove to be fertile ground for Williams in both the primary and general election while Beshear will count on traditional Democratic hotbeds such as Louisville and Lexington.
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