RUSSELL SPRINGS, Ky. (AP) - Speaking to a lunchtime crowd,
Republican David Williams joked about how a political consultant
advised him to lose weight, not because campaigning 16 hours a day
requires stamina, but because "fat guys don't look good on TV."
Laughter filled the banquet room of the Russell Springs
Often portrayed as stern, even brash, Williams showed an affable
side Thursday, charming crowds with personal anecdotes from his bid
for the GOP nomination for governor.
The Senate president, who took the advice and trimmed down,
returned Thursday to his political roots in the GOP stronghold of
southeastern Kentucky. In a moment of seriousness, he also told
supporters he's anxious about projected low turnout in Tuesday's
three-way GOP primary against a tea party favorite and a longtime
Low turnouts traditionally favor candidates who can get their
supporters to the polls.
"We need to win this primary pretty big," said Williams, who
has an overwhelming financial advantage over his opponents. "Have
you ever asked people to a birthday party or a revival at your
church and you just wondered whether anybody was going to show up?
We're worried about whether people show up or not. We know if
people show up, we will have a major victory."
Williams has a big lead in the polls over two primary opponents,
but election officials are predicting dismal turnout in Tuesday's
election in which voters will choose party nominees for most
state-level offices. Secretary of State Elaine Walker, the state's
chief election official, said she expects fewer than 10 percent of
Kentucky voters to cast ballots.
Signs point to one of the lowest turnouts in Kentucky history,
not far from the record low of 6.4 percent set in 1999, Walker
Two other GOP gubernatorial hopefuls - Louisville businessman
Phil Moffett and Jefferson County Clerk Bobbie Holsclaw - believe
that could be good news for them.
"Our get-out-the-vote effort is in full swing and the response
has been great," said Moffett campaign manager David Adams. "I
think the lion's share of a very small turnout will be Phil Moffett
supporters, because our people are motivated."
Holsclaw campaigned in Louisville on Thursday, speaking to a
women's group in the afternoon, and preparing for a swing through
Political consultant Mike Karem said a low turnout would help
Holsclaw because of her strong support in Louisville, Kentucky's
largest city with about a quarter of the state's population.
"I think people could be surprised on Election Day," said
Karem, a Holsclaw adviser.
Williams, with $1.2 million, is the only candidate who has
raised enough money to pay for a television advertising campaign.
He has been running spots statewide for the past month. Moffett has
raised only about $120,000 for his primary campaign, and Holsclaw
has banked just more than $25,000.
On the Democratic side, Gov. Steve Beshear has collected $5
million, but, without a primary opponent, has done no widespread
In his stump speeches Thursday, Williams made no references to
Moffett or Holsclaw, instead criticizing Beshear for failing to
provide leadership over the past three years. Repeating an oft-used
refrain, Williams said the state has been adrift with Beshear at
Williams blasted Beshear for not accompanying President Barack
Obama on a visit to Fort Campbell last week to honor soldiers
who've been involved in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, including
the SEAL team involved in the mission that killed terrorist leader
Osama bin Laden.
Beshear said he didn't go because of a previously scheduled
engagement at the Kentucky Oaks, a celebrated pre-Kentucky Derby
"Our governor should have left that horse race, and he should
have gone down there," Williams said.
Williams acknowledged Thursday that the same political
consultant who advised him to lose weight also told him he needs to
work on his likeability factor. But locals said the jovial Williams
on display Thursday is the one they have come to know in his two
decades in the state legislature.
"I think who you saw today is the real David Williams," said
Ted Eysenbach, a Russell Springs businessman. "But when the going
gets tough, he can be tough. He has a battle mode he goes into, and
he will not shy away from the fight."
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)