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House panel approves bills to cut cost of special elections, require electronic filing

By Beth Musgrave
bmusgrave@herald-leader.com

FRANKFORT — A measure that would allow county clerks to open limited precincts in uncontested special elections passed a House committee Tuesday and is now headed to the full House for a vote.

Also on Tuesday, the House Committee on Elections, Constitutional Amendments and Intergovernmental Affairs passed a bill that would require candidates for statewide elected office to file campaign finance reports electronically.

Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes told the committee Tuesday that a recent special election in Whitley and Laurel Counties for former Rep. Dewayne Bunch’s seat cost a total of $47,000. Voter turnout in the uncontested special election was less than 2 percent in Whitley County and 1 percent in Laurel County.

Regina Bunch, Dewayne Bunch’s wife, ran unopposed in the election. After reimbursement from the state, the special election cost Whitley County $33,000. It cost Laurel County $6,000, Grimes said.

Williams-Farmer holds big fund-raising lead in GOP primary

Senate President David Williams, R-Burkesville

By Jack Brammer – jbrammer@herald-leader.com

FRANKFORT — Republican candidate for governor David Williams and his running mate, Richie Farmer, took in $446,943 from Jan. 1 through April 15, giving their campaign for the state’s highest offices more than $1.2 million for the May 17 primary election.

The slate of Senate President Williams and state Agriculture Commissioner Farmer, which reported having $669,839.23 cash on hand, easily outpaced the other two GOP slates for governor — Louisville businessman Phil Moffett with state Rep. Mike Harmon of Danville and Jefferson County Clerk Bobbie Holsclaw with former Navy veteran Bill Vermillion of Caneyville.

The Moffett-Harmon slate reported $45,883 in campaign funds from Jan. 1 to April 15. It said it has raised a total of about $100,000 for the election. It was not immediately clear how much cash the campaign has remaining.

The Holsclaw-Vermillion ticket this week showed $22,774 in receipts for its campaign, with $15,289.44 cash on hand.

Although Williams has raised enough to launch a statewide television campaign in coming weeks, his fund-raising lags that of Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear by a wide margin.

‘Phil Harmon’ gets endorsement for Phil Moffett

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

By John Cheves — jcheves@herald-leader.com

FRANKFORT — Take Back Kentucky on Tuesday endorsed Republican gubernatorial candidate Phil Moffett — sort of.

Norm Davis, a member of the private property rights group, kicked off a press conference in the state Capitol by praising the conservative credentials of “Phil Harmon.” Unlike some politicians, “Mr. Harmon” takes the time to read materials and educate himself on important issues, Davis said.

“We need Phil Harmon,” Davis told a crowd of several dozen people. “I can’t think of anything we don’t agree on.”

David Adams, Moffett’s campaign manager, finally approached Davis at the lectern and whispered in his ear.

“Oh, I’m sorry. Moffett!” Davis corrected himself. “He has a running mate named Harmon.”

David Williams and Phil Moffett in a battle for the Republican Party’s soul

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

By Jack Brammer – jbrammer@herald-leader.com

A six-month skirmish between Tea Party movement supporters and establishment Republicans for command of the state GOP is already raging.

Senate President David Williams, who yearns to be Kentucky’s next governor, will join his running mate, Agriculture Commissioner Richie Farmer, at the scenic Donamire Farm on Old Frankfort Pike Wednesday night to kick off their 2011 Republican campaign.

The event will be co-hosted by several long-time backers of the Republican Party of Kentucky — people like Corbin banker Terry Forcht, former state GOP chairman Bob Gable and the farm’s owners, Don and Mira Ball.

“I’m supporting David Williams because he’s the smartest person in Frankfort,” said Gable. “He’s the most articulate person I know. He has provided excellent leadership in the Senate and has demonstrated strong conservative values, and will make a fine governor.”

Not all Republicans agree with Gable’s assessment.

“I don’t give David Williams a chance to be our next governor, at least I hope he isn’t,” said Randy Walters, a supporter and organizer of the Tea Party movement in Kentucky who is backing Louisville businessman Phil Moffett as the GOP’s standard-bearer in next year’s race for governor.

Beshear-Abramson slate raises $3.1 million for 2011 governor’s race

Gov. Steve BeshearFRANKFORT — Gov. Steve Beshear raised more than $505,000 in the last three months for his re-election efforts, bringing the total raised so far by him and his running mate, Louisville Mayor Jerry Abramson, to $3.1 million.

The Beshear-Abramson Democratic slate reported $2.3 million on hand in its latest report Tuesday to the state Registry of Election Finance.

Beshear and Abramson “continue to work tirelessly to bring economic recovery to Kentucky families, and Kentuckians from every corner of the state have responded,” Matt Osborne, the campaign’s finance director, said in a statement.