FRANKFORT — Former Republican Lt. Gov. Steve Pence will co-host a Sept. 9 fund-raiser in Jefferson County for Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear's re-election campaign.
Pence, who was lieutenant governor with Republican Gov. Ernie Fletcher from 2003 to 2007, said in a telephone interview Thursday that he thinks Beshear has earned a second four-year term.
"I don't see anybody on the horizon challenging him," said Pence, an attorney. "I think he has done a good job. He's made some very tough decisions."
Beshear and his running mate, Louisville Mayor Jerry Abramson, are "pleased" that Pence supports Beshear "and his bipartisan efforts to help Kentucky families survive this recession," Matt Osborne, a spokesman for the Beshear campaign, said in an e-mail.
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Kentucky Republican Party Chairman Steve Robertson was not immediately available for comment.
Pence, a former federal prosecutor, became Fletcher's running mate in 2003. In May 2006, just a few weeks after Fletcher was indicted on charges relating to state hiring practices, Pence announced he would not run for re-election with Fletcher in 2007.
Fletcher asked Pence to resign as lieutenant governor, but Pence refused. Charges against Fletcher later were dismissed in a settlement agreement with then-Attorney General Greg Stumbo.
In 2007, Pence endorsed then-U.S. Rep. Anne Northup over Fletcher in the 2007 Republican primary for governor. Fletcher won the primary but lost to Beshear in the general election. After the 2007 race, Pence went back to practicing law in Louisville.
Pence said Thursday he is "not political" but wants to support good political candidates.
People always talk about supporting good candidates but rarely cross party lines to support them, he said.
"Partisan politics has not done Kentucky very well," he said. "It may have served us nationally to some extent, but it certainly has not served us very well on the statewide level."
Pence noted that he likes Beshear's efforts to expand gambling in Kentucky and that Beshear gave him his first legal job as an assistant attorney general when Beshear was the state's chief prosecutor in the early 1980s.
Asked whether his support for Beshear is related to any efforts by Pence to get legal contracts with the state, Pence, who is in the Louisville law firm Pence & Ogburn, said his firm does no business with the state, "nor have we asked to do business with the state."
The hosts of next month's fund-raiser, Pence said, will be Papa John's founder John Schnatter and his wife, Annette Schnatter; Papa John's co-chief executive officer Jude Thompson; and Kent Taylor, founder of Texas Roadhouse.
The fund-raiser will be at the Schnatters' home in Anchorage, Pence said, adding that John Schnatter is one of his clients.
The suggested contribution to attend, Pence said, is $1,000. "We hope to get as many as we can there," he said.
Beshear and Abramson, the only Democratic ticket so far in next year's governor's race, have raised more than $2.6 million in campaign funds.
On the Republican side, Louisville businessman Phil Moffett is teaming with state Rep. Mike Harmon of Danville, and Senate President David Williams of Burkesville and Agriculture Commissioner Richie Farmer are considering a slate.
Independent Gatewood Galbraith of Lexington is in the race with Frankfort political consultant Dea Riley.