Politics & Government

3 Ky. GOP candidates for governor spar over budget, leadership

LOUISVILLE — Senate President David Williams touted his record as a legislative leader Saturday night while his two challengers in this year's Republican election for governor contended that Kentucky deserves more.

Neither Jefferson County Clerk Bobbie Holsclaw nor Louisville businessman Phil Moffett mentioned Williams by name in speaking to more than 300 at the Jefferson County Lincoln Day Dinner, but they said Frankfort has offered little progress in recent years.

Holsclaw said she is "a Reagan Republican" who puts "people before politics." She claimed that "nothing ever gets done" in Frankfort.

"I truly believe we can do better," she said, urging the crowd to vote for "a fiscally conservative Republican who has not raised your taxes."

Moffett, making his first bid for public office, said he has "never spent a tax dollar and I've never raised your taxes."

He said that in the last 10 years the state debt has ballooned from $2 billion to $10 billion.

"Can we continue to elect the same people over and over again?" Moffett asked.

Williams, of Burkesville, said he is proud of his legislative record that started in 1985.

He said last year he stopped $1 billion in additional debt to the state budget and more than $300 million in additional taxes.

He also said he has stood up to teachers' unions.

Williams, who did not mention his GOP opponents by name, fired a salvo at Democratic incumbent Gov. Steve Beshear, who is seeking re-election.

Williams said Beshear is "a governor with no agenda" except trying to raise the school dropout age from 16 to 18.

Williams claimed he and his running mate, state Agriculture Commissioner Richie Farmer, "will change Frankfort forever."

U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell was the keynote speaker.

He declared that "the legislative agenda of Barack Obama is over."

McConnell echoed Tea Party sentiments by criticizing Obama's programs, especially health care, and more than $3 trillion in additional federal debt since Obama took office in 2008.

Senate Republican leader McConnell, who was introduced by freshman U.S. Sen. Rand Paul of Bowling Green, said November's elections "sent us a whole new set of troops" to Congress. He noted that Republicans now control the U.S. House and have 47 of the 100 Senate members.

"We do not control the government. But we have a piece of it," he said.

McConnell has not endorsed anyone in this year's GOP primary election for governor, but he did praise Williams' work in keeping the state chamber in Republican control since 1999.