Republican gubernatorial candidate David Williams has taken to telling audiences that the federal government didn’t form the states, which is correct, but rather the states formed the federal government.

It’s the second part which isn’t precisely accurate.

Williams is appealing to conservative voters who think the federal government is out of control. That’s a separate question which the body politic is once again debating. The country has periodically re-debated those questions throughout its history, during its infancy, in the 1830s, the Civil War era, the New Deal era, and the 1960s. During those debates, people on either side claim the moral authority of the framers or what they intended with their revolutionary words which form the U.S. Constitution.

Williams is a student of history, law and government and knows more about them than most. He may be technically correct that the states formed the federal government in that they came together under one government and one constitution after they’d operated first as members of a loose confederation.

But the states didn’t direct the delegates to form a new government – delegates were sent by the states to revise the old Articles of Confederation. It was the delegates themselves, pushed by people like James Madison, Alexander Hamilton and George Washington, who took it upon themselves to draft an entirely new form of government and the constitution which laid out its general rules. That’s why they met secretly. They didn’t want word about what they were doing to leak out.  They even kept windows closed in the stifling Philadelphia summer heat to prevent eaves dropping and went so far as to trail the loquacious and sociable Ben Franklin around town, fearing he’d let the word out. When they announced what they’d done, the reaction wasn’t all positive.

People forget the constitution was originally ratified by conventions whose delegates were elected by the people rather than by ratification by legislatures. They were state conventions but the direct approval by the people rather than their elected legislatures seems to argue that “we the people” formed the federal government.

Williams endorsed by Bunning

Williams picked up the endorsement last weekend of former U.S. Sen. Jim Bunning. Bunning told the crowd gathered at a northern Kentucky picnic that no one should be surprised by the endorsement because Williams was always there for him when he ran.

Williams was certainly there for Bunning in 2004 when he and Sen. Mitch McConnell toured the state with Bunning in the final days of his race with Daniel Mongiardo who was closing fast. It was Williams who labeled Mongiardo a “switch-hitter” and weak wristed. That, of course, enhanced his reputation as pugnacious and unlikable among some voters.

Bunning also addressed the perception that Williams is unlikable, telling CN/2 Pure Politics that Williams must somehow over come the problem and noting that Bunning himself wasn’t considered likable. But Bunning said it’s not necessary to be liked in order to win – noting he only lost one race. That was the 1983 gubernatorial race against Martha Layne Collins, and Bunning said he didn’t lose that one because he wasn’t likable. It was just that voters liked her more.

But Williams has an uphill battle, Bunning said. That climb is made more difficult by an apparent lack of funds judging by Williams’ absence on the airwaves. After an early Republican Governor’s Association ad on behalf of Williams and his own introductory ad, which tried to portray a kinder, gentler version of Williams, he’s been silent while Gov. Steve Beshear floods the airwaves.

Ronnie Ellis writes for CNHI News Service and is based in Frankfort, Ky. He may be contacted by email at Follow CNHI News Service stories on Twitter at

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