Politics & Government

Williams outpaces Moffett in fund-raising for GOP gubernatorial primary

FRANKFORT — Senate President David Williams' campaign for governor raised $647,021.39 during the last quarter of 2010, bringing his total fund-raising to more than $753,196, his campaign said Wednesday.

His opponent for the Republican nomination in May's primary election, Louisville businessman Phil Moffett, reported raising about $53,000, according to campaign manager David Adams. However, Adams couldn't say whether that total was for the last quarter of 2010 or the entire year.

Meanwhile, Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear reported raising more than $450,000 in the last three months of 2010 for his re-election campaign. Beshear and his running mate, former Louisville Mayor Jerry Abramson, have raised more than $3.5 million for their campaign and reported having more than $2.6 million on hand at the end of the year.

The large discrepancy between Williams' and Moffett's amounts prompted state Sen. Damon Thayer, R-Georgetown, who supports Williams, to suggest Moffett reconsider his bid for governor.

Adams dismissed such talk. He said Williams is Kentucky's Martha Coakley, referring to the Massachusetts' attorney general who lost a race last year for the U.S. Senate in that state against Republican Scott Brown.

"Months before her election loss, Coakley had all the establishment money and the conventional wisdom, too. As the Tea Party tunes in to this race, David Williams won't be able to spend enough money to hide the truth about his record."

In a news release, Williams and his running mate Richie Farmer, the state's agriculture commissioner, said their fund-raising proves the strength of their ticket "as Republicans nationally look to defeat the only Democrat incumbent governor on the ballot in 2011."

Williams' campaign statement dismissed comparisons of the Republican gubernatorial primary to other campaigns, particularly the 2010 U.S. Senate primary in Kentucky between Rand Paul and Secretary of State Trey Grayson.

"Though we aren't privy to the reports of other gubernatorial campaigns, our anticipation is that the Williams-Farmer ticket has far outpaced its primary opponent leaving no question that they have failed to live up to their own promises to recreate the trajectory that Paul enjoyed against Grayson," the statement said.

The Williams-Farmer campaign is outpacing other non-incumbent gubernatorial campaigns during comparable periods, the campaign said.

It noted that at the same time in 2003, Republican Ernie Fletcher had raised $509,360. During the same year, Democrat Ben Chandler had raised $268,500. In 2007, Beshear reported raising $219,019 before Jan. 1.

The Williams-Farmer campaign reported raising more than 1,000 donations and at least one contribution from all 120 counties. The limit for a contribution to a gubernatorial campaign is $1,000.

Williams and Farmer launched their campaign last September but put fund-raising on hold and solicited no contributions until after the November election.

The campaign received a $100,000 loan from Williams when it launched last September and a handful of unsolicited donations prior to November. It raised more than $500,000 at a fund-raiser in November at Donamire Farm in Fayette County.

Matt Osborne, finance director for the Beshear-Abramson campaign, said he was "pleased" with the governor's fund-raising. He noted the campaign has had nearly 5,600 donors from all 120 Kentucky counties.