FRANKFORT -- Anne Northup, the former congresswoman from Louisville, and House Republican Leader Jeff Hoover will officially kick off their candidacy in the race for governor today with the backing of as many as a dozen GOP state lawmakers.
Northup and Hoover are slated to turn in their paperwork to the secretary of state's office today at 2 p.m. and make their first public statement as a slate afterwards in the Capitol.
The two will then spend Thursday and Friday making stops around the state, said Cam Savage, the newly named campaign manager for Northup-Hoover.
"Anne thinks she has just found the absolute best running mate," said Savage. "Republicans are going to have a great choice. They're going to have a great ticket to get behind."
The duo will face Gov. Ernie Fletcher and his running mate Robbie Rudolph, Fletcher's executive cabinet secretary, in the Republican primary, as well as Paducah construction company owner Billy Harper and running mate Dick Wilson, also a Paducah businessman.
The Fletcher and Harper campaigns have both said they are undeterred by Northup's presence in the race. Fletcher already has received key endorsements from three Northern Kentucky judge-executives and several state senators.
Other GOP lawmakers are planning to stand behind Northup and Hoover at the Capitol today to publicly endorse that ticket.
Rep. David Floyd, a Bardstown Republican, said he will continue to support Fletcher as long as he remains governor but is concerned that Fletcher has been so politically wounded that he wouldn't be able to beat the Democrats in November.
"The important thing isn't that it's fair, but it's fact," Floyd said.
Specifically, he said Fletcher was victimized by an investigation into administration hiring practices led by Democratic Attorney General Greg Stumbo. A grand jury indicted Fletcher on charges related to the probe. The indictments later were dropped as part of a settlement between Fletcher and Stumbo.
Floyd will join Rep. Bill Farmer, a Lexington Republican, and as many as a dozen other GOP lawmakers at the Northup-Hoover press conference to show their support.
"That ticket has a whole lot to offer," said Farmer.
Northup brings experience handling urban issues from her 10 years in Congress working on Louisville's behalf, while Hoover, of Jamestown, "is a master of rural issues," Farmer added.
Even one of Fletcher's most outspoken supporters said it will be hard to choose in this GOP primary race.
"They're all dear friends of mine. It's tough," said Bill Stone, president of Louisville Plate Glass and one of Fletcher's appointees to the University of Louisville board of trustees. "I'm more convinced that the winner of that race will be the next governor."
The field in the Democratic primary is still expected to expand. So far a ticket of former Lt. Gov. Steve Beshear and state Sen. Daniel Mongiardo has filed to run. The slate of state Treasurer Jonathan Miller and Jefferson County Attorney Irv Maze is raising money for the race but hasn't officially turned in paperwork.
House Speaker Jody Richards has been talking about forming a slate with John Y. Brown III, the former secretary of state and son of former Gov. John Y. Brown Jr.
Stumbo, the attorney general, said he still is considering running. He said he has received multiple offers to be the number two man on a gubernatorial slate, but declined each offer. "I didn't have any interest," he said.
And former Lt. Gov. Steve Henry said yesterday he plans to announce his candidacy on a statewide tour next week.