Senate President David L. Williams would give Gov. Steve Beshear the strongest challenge to his effort to secure a second term.
The Burkesville attorney is a smart tactician who understands the financial and social issues facing the state and has proven he knows how to use legislative power. That is why he is leading in polls and fund-raising in the Republican primary.
Unfortunately, he has spent a lot of his time obstructing rather than leading, and he often seems to act out of pique rather than planning. Over the next few months, he will have to show voters he has a real vision for the state that goes beyond a "my way or the highway" type of leadership.
The two other challengers are appealing personalities.
Bobbie Holsclaw, the Jefferson County county clerk, has a reputation as an effective manager of the office — which oversees deeds, car titles, voting and other county business. Once a scheduler for former Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole, she is known to work well across party lines. She is not sufficiently knowledgeable about state issues and has limited understanding of Eastern Kentucky.
However, Holsclaw could be a choice for voters who don't want a Frankfort insider and are willing to accept a big learning curve from a chief executive.
Phil Moffett, owner of a small telecommunications business, has a compelling life story of perseverance over adversity.
And his scholarship program, which places poor children in private schools, is commendable. Some of his issues, such as overhaul of the state tax code and legalization of industrial hemp, are long overdue for action.
But there is little indication that Moffett, the candidate most aligned with the Tea Party movement, is prepared for the challenges of this job or that he can garner enough financial support to give Beshear a competitive race.
That leaves Williams, who has strong potential for positive leadership but a disappointing track record. It's best to give him time to make his case.
Unendorsed candidates may submit a 250-word response by noon Tuesday.