Former U.S. Rep. Larry Hopkins, who represented Central Kentucky's 6th District for 14 years, is among more than 300 Republicans publicly backing Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear for governor.
Hopkins, at a news conference in Lexington Thursday with first lady Jane Beshear, said he is friends with the other two candidates for governor — Republican David Williams and independent Gatewood Galbraith — but he considers Beshear "the best leader."
Hopkins, who was in Congress from 1979 to 1993, also endorsed Beshear for governor in 2007.
The Beshear campaign also released the names Thursday of more than 150 other Kentucky Republicans who have publicly announced their support for Beshear and his running mate, former Louisville Mayor Jerry Abramson.
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They included Paintsville Mayor Bob Porter, Newport Mayor Jerry Peluso and Calhoun Mayor Thomas C. Fulkerson.
The campaign previously released the names of more than 150 other Republicans backing the Democratic slate.
Hopkins, who was in the state House and Senate before going to Congress, ran unsuccessfully for governor in 1991. Williams was his campaign manager.
Hopkins said he could not recall whether Williams specifically urged him to make public his tax returns, but he did, and he thinks all candidates should do so.
Williams, president of the state Senate, has refused in his race for governor to make public his tax returns. He maintains that no other candidate for Kentucky's highest office has disclosed so much personal financial history, primarily through forms required of state legislators.
Hopkins said he was not looking for any job or appointment in a Beshear administration.
The Williams campaign issued a statement that said people may endorse any candidate they want but should ask what plan Beshear has for tax reform, job creation and public pension reform and whether Beshear will stand up to President Barack Obama.
"David Williams has a real plan and will stand up to Obama, not support him," the Williams campaign said. "While David is out talking about his platform to make Kentucky more prosperous, Steve Beshear arrogantly hides behind political stunts and refuses to give the people of Kentucky a real debate on the issues."
Dea Riley, Galbraith's running mate, said Hopkins has never talked to Galbraith or her about their campaign.
"His decision is ill-informed," she said, adding that she was "not surprised because it's just more big business in politics."