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Republican donates to Beshear

FRANKFORT — A Republican state senator and his wife have contributed $1,000 each to Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear's 2011 re-election campaign.

Sen. Tom Buford of Nicholasville said Friday that he and his wife, Carol Buford, made the contributions this week because of Beshear's support for his 22nd District, which includes parts of Jessamine, Garrard, Boyle and Fayette counties.

The Bufords' donations are part of more than $458,000 the Beshear campaign will report raising during the last three months, said Chad Aull, political director for Beshear's re-election campaign. He said the campaign has had three fund-raisers since Sept. 22.

Buford said the contributions were not related to any dissatisfaction with Republican Senate President David Williams, who has been at loggerheads with Beshear, especially on the issue of expanded gambling.

Buford sided with Beshear in voting for a bill during a June special legislative session to allow video lottery terminals at horse racetracks. But the measure died in the Senate budget committee.

Beshear is trying to topple Williams as Senate leader.

The governor took a big step in that endeavor when Democrat Robin Webb won an August special election for a state Senate seat that had been held by a Republican since 1991.

Webb's win chipped away at GOP control of the Senate, dropping the margin to 20 Republicans and 17 Democrats, with one independent.

Beshear also is looking at picking up another Senate seat. Williams has said he expects Beshear to appoint Senate Majority Leader Dan Kelly, R-Springfield, to a judgeship.

That would set up a special election for Kelly's 14th District in Central Kentucky. If Democrats captured it, the GOP margin would be a razor-thin 19-18-1. Kelly has declined to comment.

Democrats could then try to pick off yet another Republican Senator. Or, more likely, they would attempt to persuade a couple of Republicans to throw their allegiance to a candidate for Senate president who is more palatable to Democrats.

Buford said Friday he would "not be in any group who would try to remove" Williams as president and would never change political parties.

"There's no deal there," he said. "I can't think of anyone who has raised more money and has done so much for the Senate Republican caucus than David Williams. I stand firmly with him."

Buford, who said he will be seeking re-election next year to the Senate as a Republican, said he voted for expanded gambling because the horse industry in his district wants it.

Williams declined to comment Friday on the Bufords' contributions to Beshear.

Buford said he contributed to Beshear Tuesday during a fund-raiser at the airport hangar of businessman R.J. Corman in Jessamine County because Beshear has helped his district.

"As a rule, my wife and I generally don't attend or donate to Democratic fund-raisers," Buford said. "But this governor has helped me and my district."

Buford said he is appreciative because Beshear provided funds in the state budget for a theater in Lancaster and $1.5 million for a downtown street-improvement program in Nicholasville.

Aull said the governor and his running mate, Louisville Mayor Jerry Abramson, are "honored with Sen. Buford's support.

"It shows bipartisanship of this administration," he said.

Buford said joining Corman on the stage at Tuesday's fund-raiser were Midway businessman Tracy Farmer, Lexington banker Luther Deaton and Glasgow businessman L. Rogers Wells.

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