With Session Over, Lawmakers Picking Sides In Governor's Race

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - State lawmakers are picking sides in the
May gubernatorial primary, just two days after the legislature went
home for the season.
Gubernatorial candidates in the Republican and Democratic
parties have both touted new endorsements from legislators in the
138-member General Assembly since it adjourned on Tuesday.
Seven candidates are seeking the Democratic nomination and three
Republicans want the GOP nod in the May 22 primary. Both sides have
been active in the endorsement arena, with less than two months
until the election.
On the Democratic side, former Lt. Gov. Steve Henry said
Wednesday that state Rep. Larry Clark, D-Louisville, and Sen. Joey
Pendleton, D-Hopkinsville, were two of his campaign's co-chairs.
House Speaker Jody Richards, D-Bowling Green, on Thursday said
38 of the 61 Democrats in the Kentucky House were backing him in
the primary. Meanwhile, Louisville businessman Bruce Lunsford
picked up public support from state Sen. Julian Carroll.
Former U.S. Rep. Anne Northup, who is looking to unseat Gov.
Ernie Fletcher in the GOP primary said Thursday three Republican
state representatives were supporting her campaign.
Heading into the session, Gov. Ernie Fletcher had already
announced that at least 15 Republicans in the GOP-led Senate were
backing his bid for re-election. Fletcher is also facing opposition
in the primary from Paducah businessman Billy Harper.
The other candidates seeking the Democratic nod include former
lieutenant governor Steve Beshear, Lexington attorney Gatewood
Galbraith, demolition contractor Otis Hensley and state Treasurer
Jonathan Miller.
Such endorsements in a primary election are meaningful to
candidates, and can serve as a cue to voters, Laurie Rhodebeck, a
University of Louisville associate professor of political science,
said. In a field that's as crowded as the seven-person Democratic
primary, endorsements can help voters choose between candidates,
Rhodebeck said.
"One thing that can help a voter is to find a name that's
familiar," Rhodebeck said.
Scott Lasley, a Western Kentucky University assistant professor
of political science, said endorsements gave incremental benefits
to candidates. For one, they generate free publicity, Lasley said.
"There are some benefits, particularly in a crowded race,"
Lasley said.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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