By Jack Brammer
Two Republican candidates for governor took on Democratic incumbent Steve Beshear more than each other Saturday night at the Fayette County Republican Party dinner.
Senate President David Williams of Burkesville claimed Beshear, who has no opponent in May’s Democratic primary election, has no agenda and Louisville businessman Phil Moffett said Forbes magazine last October labeled Kentucky as the worst run state in the nation and that Kentucky’s bond rating has declined because of the state’s financial picture.
Williams and Moffett were at center stage at the Fayette GOP dinner at the Griffin Gate Marriott attended by about 200 people and hosted by Lexington sports media celebrity Dave Baker.
A third Republican candidate for governor, Jefferson County Clerk Bobbie Holsclaw, was invited but did not show up, said Fayette County GOP Chair Carol Rogers.
Mike Karem, a consultant for the Holsclaw campaign, said she got ill after eating something that did not agree with her at a Henry County campaign event.
With little more than two weeks until the May 17 GOP primary election, it was unusual at the Fayette County dinner to hear opposing candidates on the campaign trail make no mention of each other by name.
Moffett campaign chairman David Adams later said Moffett was referring to Williams when he talked about Kentucky’s financial condition.
“David Williams needs everyone to forget that he voted for every bad budget Steve Beshear has enacted,” Adams said. “Kentucky’s bonded debt has increased by nearly $3 billion the last three years and all that red ink is on Williams’ hands. That’s why conservative voters support Phil Moffett.”
Williams’ campaign staff said he rarely mentions his primary opponents by name.
Moffett, who is making his first bid for public office and has enjoyed endorsements of various Tea Party groups in the state, noted that he is the only candidate in the race who is not a career politician.
He said his campaign is based on four platforms: state sovereignty that would include getting the federal Environmental Protection Agency out of the coal fields, creating more jobs through tax reform, improving education through such moves as establishing charter schools that run with less state oversight and making government smaller.
Williams said he is running for governor because “this state is adrift.”
He said it’s Beshear’s fault and not his that Kentucky is performing poorly.
He predicted that he and his running mate, state Agriculture Commissioner Richie Farmer, will be sworn into office in December and provide strong, decisive leadership.
Several candidates for other state constitutional offices this year attended the dinner.
Hopkins County Attorney Todd P’Pool, who is running for state attorney general, said his campaign raised more than $100,000 at a Madisonville fund raiser last week with U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell of Louisville.
P’Pool, who is unopposed in the GOP primary election, hopes to unseat Democratic incumbent Jack Conway of Louisville in November’s general election.
Also at the dinner was Lexington businessman Andy Barr, who lost a close race last year for Central Kentucky’s 6th Congressional District seat.
Barr said he is “still evaluating” whether he will challenge Democratic incumbent Ben Chandler of Versailles next year.
Barr also said he wants to make sure that the redrawing of district boundary lines by the state legislature keeps the 6th District “unified and it is not broken up.”
The keynote speaker at the dinner was Wall Street Journal conservative political columnist John Fund, who spoke about national issues.