In recent weeks, Williams and his running-mate, Agriculture Commissioner Richie Farmer, have been plagued by a string of negative headlines. Farmer, a former college basketball standout who was added to the ticket because of his broad appeal, has proven to be a liability so far. The negative stories that have surfaced recently about Farmer range in topic from his initial refusal to particulate in a furlough program to spending money on new vehicles for his department to billing taxpayers for a hotel stay not far from his home. Williams, meanwhile, has had to answer questions about gambling losses he accumulated in the past, even as he currently opposes expanded gambling in the state. Williams starts off as an underdog to first-term Gov. Steve Beshear (D) in the general election and his performance in the primary won't help convince voters that is ready to go head-to-head with the incumbent out of the gate. Beshear leads Williams in recent polling and boasts a sizable fundraising advantage over his GOP opponent. Beshear did not face a challenge on the Democratic side. Williams will now have to shift his message to court independents and Democrats, which will be key in Kentucky, as Democrats have about a 3-to-2 registration advantage over Republicans. Watch for Williams to attempt to boost turnout in eastern Kentucky and hammer Beshear for the Kentucky Democratic Party paying back the state for the governor's use of a state plane for political purposes. Williams will also likely bring up problems Beshear's running mate, former Louisville Mayor Jerry Abramson, had with what appeared to be exorbitant compensation for little work done by city police officials. Beshear and his allies will likely counter by charging that Williams has been hypocritical on the issue of gambling and by highlighting the many negative headlines Farmer has garnered throughout the primary. Look for an expensive general election battle and involvement from both parties' governors associations.
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