Democratic Gubernatorial Candidates Continue Look For Votes

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - Democratic gubernatorial candidate Bruce
Lunsford said Friday that Kentucky needs better long-term planning
to improve its accessibility - whether it's over roads or the
Internet. The result would be a stronger economy, he said.
"We need a capital construction and infrastructure program that
will let this state get back into the game of competition,"
Lunsford, a Louisville businessman, said in a conference call with
reporters while campaigning in western Kentucky.
Lunsford touted his plan to boost economic growth outside
Kentucky's metropolitan areas.
Meanwhile, fellow Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Jody Richards
hoped to burnish a folksy image with voters with a second
television commercial that debuted Friday.
In his first ad, Richards sat on a porch with running mate John
Y. Brown III and talked about "small-town values." In the latest
commercial, the two political partners sit on the steps of a
building at Western Kentucky University and talk about education.
Just like his first ad, Richards says he's not relying on
"slick" TV ads.
Other Democrats in the May 22 primary race include former Lt.
Govs. Steve Henry and Steve Beshear, Lexington attorney Gatewood
Galbraith and eastern Kentucky demolition contractor Otis Hensley
Jr. State Treasurer Jonathan Miller exited the race recently and
backed Beshear.
Lunsford said Friday that investments in roads, airports, river
ports and broadband Internet access would be a key part of his plan
to improve rural Kentucky's economy.
He acknowledged the cost of such an investment would be "a
pretty big number," but said it would be doable if handled
properly and financed over time.
"It's like building a business - where you'd incur the capital
construction with a return on your investment," Lunsford said.
"We've never stopped and looked at that. We're constantly fixing
things with Band-Aids."
One possible long-term funding source could be revenues from
expanded gambling, he said.
However, efforts to put a proposed constitutional amendment on
the ballot to allow casino gambling have not made any headway in
the past with state lawmakers.
Another option that Lunsford mentioned would be financing the
projects with bonding. He mentioned general obligation bonds as one
possibility.
"That takes the heat away from people who will not have enough
courage to go forward to do things," Lunsford said.
The state Constitution requires voter approval for any general
obligation bonds in excess of $500,000, according to the state
Finance Cabinet.
The state has not issued general obligation bonds since the late
1960s, and those were used primarily for road projects, a cabinet
spokeswoman said.
Other ways to stimulate rural economies, Lunsford said, include
expanding distance learning for people who don't want to leave
their hometowns. He also mentioned having a permanent state
economic development presence in eastern and western Kentucky.
Lunsford said that rural Kentuckians realize their areas are
unlikely to land large-scale development projects more prone to go
in large cities.
"They just want to be able to develop businesses that aren't
just making socks for $6 an hour, and I don't blame them," he
said.
Meanwhile, campaign advertising in the crowded race continued to
pick up steam.
In his latest ad, which focuses on education, Richards notes
that he and Brown have been college professors. Richards formerly
taught journalism at Western Kentucky University, and Brown teaches
business law at Bellarmine University.
"Too many school districts in Kentucky don't get their fair
share of funding," Brown says in the ad that will air in the
Louisville, Lexington, Paducah and Bowling Green markets.
Richards, a longtime member of the Kentucky House, was a key
supporter of the 1990 Kentucky Education Reform Act, created after
the state Supreme Court declared the public school system
unconstitutional because of funding inequities based on property
taxes and property values.
Richards, now House speaker, credits KERA with putting Kentucky
education "head and shoulders above where we were," campaign
spokeswoman Jennifer Brislin said Friday.
"But I think he recognizes that's not good enough," she said.
"We need to do more."
In the ad, Richards says that as governor he'd "make sure all
of our children get their fair share, including in rural areas."
Meanwhile, Richards is scheduled to kick off a bus tour Tuesday
in Louisville that will head west. Richards, who is from Bowling
Green, plans to campaign in western Kentucky leading up to the
primary election, while Brown will campaign elsewhere in the state,
Brislin said.

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


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