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Louisville businessman Phil Moffett running for governor

By Jack Brammer – jbrammer@herald-leader.com

Hoping to win support within the Tea Party movement, a Louisville businessman who advocates for charter schools and a state lawmaker are forming a Republican slate to run for governor and lieutenant governor next year.

Phil Moffett, managing partner of the telecommunications management company CCS Partners, is the first GOP candidate to enter the race for governor. The first-time candidate’s running mate is state Rep. Mike Harmon of Danville, who has been in the House since 2003.

A passel of other potentially formidable Republicans are still considering the race, including Senate President David Williams, Agriculture Commissioner Richie Farmer and state Rep. Bill Farmer of Lexington.

Moffett and Harmon announced their ticket Thursday on WHAS-TV in Louisville and on Leland Conway’s radio show on Lexington’s WLAP-AM. They were accompanied by David Adams, who recently left as campaign director of Republican Rand Paul’s bid for the U.S. Senate.

Phil Moffett announced for governor on Leland Conway's radio show July 29, 2010.

Phil Moffett announced for governor on Leland Conway's radio show July 29, 2010.

Adams said he will manage the Moffett-Harmon campaign.

Moffett, 47, said he plans to meet with Tea Party organizers and will “try to gain their support.”

He said he has not yet tried to contact U.S. Senate candidate Paul, a favorite of the limited government movement, but that he agrees with Paul’s stances on smaller government, lower debt and fiscal responsibility.

Moffett, who has a bachelor’s degree in finance from the University of Kentucky, has been a board member of the Bluegrass Institute for Public Policy Solutions, a libertarian-leaning think tank based in Bowling Green.

He also is co-founder and serves on the board of directors of School CHOICE Scholarships of Kentucky Inc., a privately funded program providing scholarships to low-income families to allow their children to attend private schools.

Earlier this year, he sponsored a trip to Indianapolis for Kentucky lawmakers to find out more about charter schools, which were under consideration by the legislature at the time.

Charter schools are granted special permits, or charters, that allow them to operate outside usual state regulations in an attempt to help students who otherwise would have to attend low-performing schools.

On the radio show, Moffett said he got heavily involved in pushing charter schools when President Barack Obama announced Race to the Top, a program funded by the federal stimulus bill that provides competitive grants to reward states that implement education innovation and reforms, such as charter schools.

“There’s a big grant program out there Kentucky is competing for and it could be as much as a couple hundred million dollars,” Moffett said of Race to the Top.

Many Tea Party members use the federal stimulus package as an example of wasteful spending and have labeled it a failure. Legislation to allow charter schools foundered in the final days of the 2010 General Assembly.

Moffett, who plans to contribute $50,000 to get his campaign started, also said he favors getting rid of the state income tax on individuals and businesses and implementing a sales tax on services. He said he could make up any resulting dip in revenue for the state by eliminating waste.

Lexington Tea Party organizer Mica Sims said she is “very excited” about the Moffett-Harmon slate.

“I’m anxious to hear his platform and hear him say why he deserves the party nomination,” Sims said. “I also think it’s a plus for him that he’s never run for public office before. The Tea Party likes that.”

She said Williams, a Burkesville Republican who has led the state Senate since 2000, could be hurt with the Tea Party movement because of a legislative record that includes voting for tax increases.
Williams was not immediately available for comment.

Harmon, a loan officer, is vice chairman of the House Tourism Development and Energy Committee and has a bachelor’s degree from Eastern Kentucky University. He is 43.

State Republican Party Chairman Steve Robertson said the Moffett-Harmon announcement “is encouraging in that conservative Republicans are stepping forward to challenge a very vulnerable governor who has not earned the support of Kentucky voters to seek a second term.”

Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear is seeking a second, four-year term on a ticket with Louisville Mayor Jerry Abramson. The Beshear campaign already has raised about $2.5 million. It has said little about potential opponents, saying it’s too early to talk about the contest.

Gatewood Galbraith, a Lexington lawyer who has run unsuccessfully for governor four times, is running as an independent in the 2011 gubernatorial election. Running with him is Dea Riley, a Frankfort political consultant.

Perennial candidate Otis “Bullman” Hensley Jr., a Democrat and Harlan County demolition contractor, also has registered with the state to raise funds for a race for governor.

Filed Under: ElectionsGovernorRepublican PartyState Government

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  1. bingcherries says:

    “Senate President David Williams of Burkesville, who has been talking to state Agriculture Commissioner Richie Farmer about being his running mate,”

    Please say it isn’t so. Williams does not seem to be a team builder nor a leader.

    oh well, he would never make it past any primary campaign anyway, IMO

  2. ct stewart says:

    David Adams is runnung from pillar to post, for what? To say he was campaign manager for two losing tickets…

  3. special delivery says:

    Sims is “Very excited” about these two clowns?

  4. Bonzo66 says:

    I heard on NPR today that one of Moffet’s proposed changes for the tax code is to put a tax on government pensions. Yeah, right that should be real popular with state employees. We already get our contributions taxed when they’re made; makes a lot of sense to turn around and tax the payouts again. Typical neo-con dodge to keep from taxing the rich.

  5. Tim Jones says:

    Phil Moffett? Stunning!

  6. righteous says:

    Mica Sims .. our very own Gattitown Tea Party momma. I’d hoped she’d faded into obscurity. Unfortunately not.

  7. daniel says:

    Are they serious?? Never heard of them..

  8. Gator says:

    As a life-long Republican, I am amazed at the lack of depth of the Republican bench. Is this the best we can do? I don’t want a republican or a democrat at this point. They are both tainted with the stink of incompetence.

  9. Gator says:

    Wait a minute, I really should not care about the elections in KY. I became so disgusted that I moved my family to the beach in Florida. I pity Kentucky’s fate with the @ss clowns in power in Kentucky, both sides.

  10. Chris says:

    I’m a straight ticket Republican and always have been…….unless Gatewood is in the mix. He gets my vote in this race.

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