David Williams survived a primary election
season filled with potential bombshells to capture the Republican
nomination for governor in Kentucky and the right to challenge a
popular Democratic incumbent in November.
Williams, the often prickly state Senate president, defeated Louisville businessman Phil Moffett and Jefferson County
Clerk Bobbie Holsclaw on Tuesday. He heads into what is expected to
be a rough and tumble general election campaign against a familiar
foe in the Capitol, Gov. Steve Beshear.
With 95 percent of precincts reporting, Williams had 64,005
votes or 47 percent, to Moffett's 51,968 votes or 38 percent.
Holsclaw had 19,118 votes or 14 percent.
Holsclaw pulled enough votes from Moffett to ensure Williams'
"I would never say that I was a spoiler," Holsclaw said. "We
all ran on our own merits. I look at it that maybe Phil Moffett was
the spoiler for me."
Moffett called Williams shortly before 9 p.m. to congratulate
him on the victory.
"I think we did a fantastic job," Moffett said. "We exceeded
expectations on all levels, and I couldn't be prouder of the people
who supported us, the grassroots groups, the tea party groups, the
9/12ers, the Take Back Kentucky groups. They're a force in
Moffett defended Holsclaw's campaign.
"The truth is she had every right to be in the race, and she
was, and it's just part of the deal," he said.
Williams, the state's best known anti-gambling advocate, was
dealt a particularly troubling setback late in the campaign when a
judge unsealed financial documents in a decade-old divorce case
that showed he had a history of casino gambling. In a Bible-belt
state like Kentucky, the juxtaposition can turn off a key voting
bloc, conservative Christians.
Having raised $1.2 million, Williams was the only Republican
with enough for a television advertising campaign. His TV ads were
positive, showing him happy and smiling and promising brighter
times ahead if he's elected governor.
The GOP candidates differed little on key Republican issues,
from cutting state spending to opposing abortion. In campaign
appearances, Williams was able to avoid arguing with his Republican
opponents and focus instead on attacking Beshear as ineffective.
Democratic leaders were already targeting Williams long before
the primary votes were counted, calling for him to release his
income tax returns, which, they charge, would likely show gambling
Democratic state Sen. Kathy Stein questioned what Williams has
to hide by not releasing his tax information. Williams, however,
said he releases his financial information on legislative
disclosure forms and that he considers it unnecessary to provide
income tax returns.
Williams' running mate, former University of Kentucky basketball
star Richie Farmer, had problems of his own. Farmer's wife,
Rebecca, filed for divorce last month without giving a reason,
triggering a whisper campaign of speculation about the cause of the
Moffett and Holsclaw were careful not to make the pending
divorce an issue, adhering to Richie Farmer's request to respect
his family's privacy.
Farmer, who was twice elected state agriculture commissioner,
asked in a motion last month that the divorce petition be
dismissed, but, if not, that he receive joint custody of their
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)