The Richmond Register

State News

January 26, 2011

Republican primary for governor grows

FRANKFORT — The Republican primary for governor grew by one on filing deadline day as expected, but Gov. Steve Beshear is getting a free pass in the Democratic primary.

Jefferson County Clerk Bobbie Holsclaw and her running mate, retired naval officer and high school teacher Bill Vermillion, filed candidacy papers Tuesday morning, promising a competitive race despite a late entry and delayed fundraising start.

Asked if she can defeat Senate President David Williams and Louisville businessman Phil Moffett in the Republican primary, Holsclaw responded: “If I didn’t think so, I wouldn’t be standing here today.” She acknowledged she’s an underdog and starts behind but said “there’s no doubt in my mind that anybody’s beatable.”

Holsclaw said she isn’t worried about sharing a base in Jefferson County with Moffett. Williams is from rural Cumberland County.

“I’m sure there are people out there who like Phil Moffett,” she said. “Hopefully, there are a few more who like me better than Phil Moffett or David Williams.”

Moffett’s campaign manager David Adams also dismissed the idea Holsclaw’s entry would hamper Moffett. He said “the old question in Kentucky gubernatorial politics is how urban candidates do against rural candidates.” But Moffett’s “commonsense platform” resonates with both urban and rural voters, Adams said.

Williams’ campaign manager, Scott Jennings, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Holsclaw said jobs, the economy and education are the top issues in the race. She declined to provide specific details saying she planned “a detailed plan within the next few weeks on exactly how I plan on doing this.” She said she didn’t know how much money she’ll raise but it’ll be enough to get her message to voters. Williams and his running mate, Richie Farmer, have raised more than $750,000.

Beshear and his running mate, former Louisville Mayor Jerry Abramson, are the only Democrats to file. Perennial candidate Otis Hensley from Harlan County was expected to file Tuesday but did not show.

Beshear almost got a challenger – though it would’ve been a questionable one. A man who identified himself as Ellis Keyes from Letcher County, according to Secretary of State officials, tried to file but didn’t realize he had to have a running mate. He later walked through the capitol parking lot asking passers-by if they were registered Democrats who might want to run for lieutenant governor. But he apparently got no takers and did not return to the SOS office before the 4 p.m. filing date.

Here is a rundown of the other filings for statewide constitutional offices.

• Attorney General: Neither incumbent Democrat Jack Conway or Republican challenger, Hopkins County Attorney Todd P’Pool faces a primary challenge.

• Secretary of State: Democrat Elaine Walker, the Bowling Green mayor, was appointed by Beshear to finish Trey Grayson’s second term. Grayson resigned to accept the job of director of the Institute of Politics at Harvard University. Walker will be sworn in Saturday. But she faces a formidable primary opponent in Lexington attorney Alison Lundergan Grimes, the daughter of former party chairman Jerry Lundergan.

On the Republican side, Hilda Legg of Somerset, a longtime Republican activist and former administrator of the federal Rural Utility Service, will face Elkton businessman and veteran Bill Johnson.

• Auditor: Republican state Rep. Addia Wuchner of Burlington faces John Kemper III of Lexington. Former Beshear Chief of Staff Adam Edelen has no Democratic primary opponent.

• Treasurer: Incumbent Democrat L.J. “Todd” Hollenbach drew a primary opponent in Steve Hamrick of Louisville. Republican K.C. Crosbie, a Lexington Metro Council member, is the only Republican to file.

• Commissioner of Agriculture: This one drew the most candidates. On the Democrat side, Richmond attorney and Madison County school board member John Faris Lackey would have to resign from the school board if elected.  David Lynn Williams, a perennial candidate who actually was the Democratic nominee for agriculture commissioner in 2007 before losing to Richie Farmer, filed and so did Robert “Bob” Farmer of Louisville, Stewart Gritton of Lawrenceburg, and B.D. Wilson of Frankfort.

On the Republican side, state Rep. Jamie Comer of Tompkinsville and Bob Rothenburger of Shelbyville, face off in the May 17 primary.

Ronnie Ellis writes for CNHI News Service and is based in Frankfort. Reach him at Follow CNHI News Service stories on Twitter at

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