Politics & Government

David Williams urges Republicans to vote, fends off Democrats' criticisms

Gubernatorial candidates Gatewood Galbraith, an independent, left, and Senate president David Williams, R-Burkesville, bumped fists before their debate on KET.
Gubernatorial candidates Gatewood Galbraith, an independent, left, and Senate president David Williams, R-Burkesville, bumped fists before their debate on KET.

With light voter turnout predicted Tuesday, Republican gubernatorial candidate David Williams and his running mate, Agriculture Commissioner Richie Farmer, spent Monday urging Kentuckians to cast ballots.

As the GOP front-runners flew around the state trying to energize a seemingly sleepy Republican electorate, they were met at several airports by Democratic leaders who urged Williams to make public his tax returns.

Williams, who is the president of the state Senate and from Burkesville, said the decision by the Democratic Party to send out "liberal members of their establishment politician corps" to hold competing news conferences showed that he and Farmer are a threat to defeat Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear and his running mate, former Louisville Mayor Jerry Abramson, in November's general election.

Beshear and Abramson are unopposed in Tuesday's Democratic primary election. Williams faces two opponents in Tuesday's primary: Louisville businessman Phil Moffett and Jefferson County Clerk Bobbie Holsclaw. Moffett and Holsclaw have been unable to raise enough cash to buy television advertising and have trailed Williams badly in all publicly released polling.

Moffett campaigned in Western Kentucky on Monday, and Holsclaw stayed in her home county, the state's most populous.

During a stop at Blue Grass Airport in Lexington, Williams went out of his way to welcome state Sen. Kathy Stein, D-Lexington, who held a news conference immediately after Williams and Farmer left the airport.

"Actually if we had room on the plane, I'd like to take Kathy Stein around the state," Williams said, "because she should be the poster person for the Democratic Party in this state. She is against everything except higher taxes."

Stein announced that the Democratic Party is paying for a new Web site, Whatiswilliamshiding.com, that includes a video and history of Williams' finances, including reported gambling losses in his divorce case of $36,147 from 1999 to 2002.

Williams, the leading opponent of expanded gambling in Kentucky, has said that he no longer gambles and that he has disclosed his financial situation on public records he has filed for years with the Legislative Ethics Commission.

Stein said anyone running for statewide public office should release his or her tax returns.

If Democrats are worried about tax returns, Williams suggested, Beshear ought to be concerned about money the Kentucky Democratic Party has reimbursed the state for the governor's use of state aircraft for political and non-governmental purposes — including taking his family to the NCAA Final Four basketball tournament in Houston last month.

The Lexington Herald-Leader reported Monday that the Democratic Party has reimbursed the state about $85,000 and that Beshear's re-election campaign has paid the state $5,645 to cover the cost of such flights by the governor.

If Beshear does not report the Democratic Party's reimbursements as in-kind contributions for his campaign or on his tax returns, he will have trouble with the IRS, Williams said.

"Is it fair or appropriate to shake down lobbyists for money for the state Democratic Party and let them fly you to Houston to a ballgame?" Williams asked.

"They've been throwing pebbles at Richie Farmer and David Williams, and they are going to get boulders thrown back at them because when we look at what they've done ..." Williams said. "If the state plane is available, perhaps the Republican Party ought to lease it for David Williams and Richie Farmer to fly around in."

Stein said she is sure there has been no violation of campaign laws by the Democratic Party.

In 2007, as a candidate for governor, Beshear initially balked at releasing his tax returns, but he later made public his assets and liabilities. As governor, he has made public his returns every year.

Moffett has declined to make public his tax returns, but Holsclaw has released hers.

Turnout Tuesday is predicted to be about 10 percent.

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