New Developments In Race For Governor

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - Anne Northup, ousted from Congress amid
Democrats' big gains nationally, will challenge Gov. Ernie Fletcher
in Kentucky's Republican gubernatorial primary, her campaign said
Northup, who served five House terms from a Louisville-area
district until her defeat last November, selected state Rep. Jeff
Hoover as her running mate.
Northup will file her candidacy papers for the May primary on
Wednesday at the Capitol in Frankfort, said her campaign manager,
Cam Savage.
Fletcher, the first Republican elected Kentucky governor in a
generation, also is being challenged by Paducah businessman Billy
Harper in the GOP primary.
Fletcher campaign manager Marty Ryall said Northup's entry into
the race didn't come as a surprise and wouldn't alter the
governor's intention to focus on his accomplishments and plans for
the state.
"We're confident that when the voters have an opportunity to
reflect on what he's done and his vision for the future, they will
renominate him for another term," Ryall said.
Fletcher's term has been marred by an investigation into whether
his administration illegally rewarded political supporters with
state jobs after he took office.
The governor maintained the investigation was politically
motivated and gave a blanket pardon in 2005 to anyone except
himself who could be charged in the probe.
A Franklin County special grand jury indicted Fletcher on
misdemeanor charges that were eventually dropped last year in a
deal with prosecutors. The grand jury's report found that Fletcher
had approved a "widespread and coordinated plan" to skirt state
hiring laws.
Northup and Hoover are planning a campaign tour of the state on
Thursday and Friday.
"Anne plans to be in all corners of the state between now and
Election Day," Savage said.
Hoover is a Republican from Jamestown in south-central Kentucky
and is the top GOP leader in the Democratic-controlled Kentucky
"Anne really feels like she's found a perfect running mate,"
Savage said. "He's respected by Republicans and Democrats. He's
got a record of success, and I think they make a great team."
Northup defeated freshman Democratic Rep. Mike Ward to win the
3rd District congressional seat in 1996. She defeated a string of
challengers in the Democratic-leaning district until losing to John
Yarmuth in November.
Northup and Fletcher served together in Congress until
Fletcher's election as governor in 2003.
Stan Pulliam, Harper's campaign manager, said Northup's entry
into the race would not change things. Harper, Pulliam said, was
still the Republican with the best chance of winning in the
November general election.
Meanwhile, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Steve Beshear
supported a plan for casino gambling that he said Tuesday could
generate hundreds of millions in tax revenue to help fund education
and road construction.
Casino gambling - complete with slots and table games - should
be allowed at horse tracks and freestanding locations, said
Beshear, a former lieutenant governor.
State lawmakers should pass a proposed constitutional amendment
that would ultimately leave the gambling issue with Kentucky
voters, Beshear said.
"It is time that the people be allowed to vote on whether they
want expanded gaming in our state and the resulting economic
benefits that it will provide for each and every county in
Kentucky," Beshear said.
Beshear, who was flanked by his running mate, Sen. Daniel
Mongiardo of Hazard, said his future proposals would be funded
through money brought in by casino gambling.
Beshear is facing state Treasurer Jonathan Miller and Otis
Hensley Jr., of Harlan, in the May primary, though the Democratic
field is expected to grow. Candidates have until Jan. 30 to
officially enter the race.
Wiley Pearson, Miller's campaign manager, said the treasurer has
also supported leaving the gambling issue up to voters in the form
of a proposed constitutional amendment. Pearson said there were
"bigger issues" to be resolved, however, including how the
revenue would be spent and how it could preserve the Kentucky horse
Harper was opposed to Kentucky legalizing casino gambling,
Pulliam said.
Attorney General Greg Stumbo said Tuesday he was still
considering his options - whether to seek re-election or run for
governor - and could decide by next week. Stumbo, the prosecutor
who agreed to drop the case against Fletcher, said his potential
candidacy did not hinge on what the rest of the field looks like.
"I'm getting a lot of encouragement, a lot of support to seek
the office of governor," Stumbo said in a phone interview.

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

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