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Resignations, Defections Plague Governor's Race

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - A rash of resignations and outright
defections has plagued Kentucky's gubernatorial candidates this
year.
The latest involves Democratic candidate Jody Richards, who lost
his campaign manager, his finance chairman and three other staffers
over the past week.
"We don't feel like the campaign is floundering," spokeswoman
Jennifer Brislin said on Tuesday. "We continue to move forward."
Brislin said Richards, one of seven Democratic candidates, is
looking for a replacement for his campaign manager, Travis Lowe,
who resigned last week after a disagreement on strategy. Richards
also lost his finance chairman, Larry Townsend, after Townsend
attended a fundraiser for Democratic rival Bruce Lunsford, who also
is seeking the Democratic nomination in the May 22 primary.
Those departures so late in the primary campaign could spell
trouble for Richards, said Joe Gershtenson, director of the Center
for Kentucky History and Politics at Eastern Kentucky University.
Often such departures signal a lack of success in raising money or
poor showings in public opinion polls, he said.
"It's unusual to see a high level of defections from this many
campaigns," Gershtenson said. "But largely that's a function of
how many candidates we have."
In March, Jason Shemanski, a staffer on Louisville millionaire
Bruce Lunsford's gubernatorial campaign left and became an unpaid
campaign manager for Democratic rival Otis Hensley Jr., a long-shot
candidate running on a shoestring budget.
Shemanski, a former member of the International Association of
Machinists, said he quickly realized that Lunsford wasn't the
strong pro-labor candidate he had hoped for, so he gave up the
$2,500-a-month job. The Lunsford campaign disputes that. Spokesman
Adam Bozzi said Shemanski was fired.
That was followed by the resignation of the campaign manager for
Republican gubernatorial candidate Billy Harper. Stan Pulliam, a
veteran Republican campaign strategist, had been with the Harper
campaign since December. He resigned in late March, citing personal
reasons.
In the last governor's race, Harper was Fletcher's finance
chairman, helping him collect donations that helped elect
Kentucky's first GOP governor in more than 30 years.
Harper, one of three Republican candidates, decided to run for
the office himself after Fletcher and several members of his
administration were indicted on charges that they violated state
hiring laws by appointed political supporters to protected state
jobs.
Fletcher issued pardons to everyone in his administration who
was charged with crimes. The indictment against him was dismissed
in a negotiated agreement with prosecutors.
A former aide to Democratic gubernatorial candidate Steve Henry
was the first person to leave a campaign. Leslie Holland also
lodged a complaint with the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance.
She made several allegations in the complaint, including a claim
that Henry, a Louisville physician and former lieutenant governor,
had taken campaign contributions before he officially entered the
governor's race.
Henry said the allegations are not true. He even denied that
Holland was his campaign manager.
"She was never my campaign manager," Henry said after the
complaint was filed. "Any work that was in any way political was
strictly voluntary."

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


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