FRANKFORT — In his latest TV ad, Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear is reminding Kentucky voters that he has cut his own salary, sold unneeded state airplanes and slashed more than $1 billion in spending to help deal with the effects of a lingering national recession.
"Leading by example is what being governor is all about," Beshear says in the 30-second ad that began airing statewide on Monday, replacing a previous ad that touted his small-town upbringing as the son and grandson of preachers.
Beshear will face Republican David Williams, a longtime state lawmaker, in the Nov. 8 general election. In stump speeches, Williams has been accusing Beshear of failing to provide the leadership Kentucky needs to deal with the economic problems.
Without ever mentioning Williams' criticisms, Beshear, speaking directly to the camera, tells voters some of the things he has done as governor to deal with the recession.
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"I've worked with both parties to balance budgets without raising broad-based taxes," he said. "Then, I slashed spending by over a billion dollars, creating the smallest government in 20 years. We've tightened our belts in a fiscally responsible way. I've furloughed state workers, including myself, cut my own pay 10 percent, and sold unneeded state property and vehicles, including two airplanes."
Campaign manager Bill Hyer declined to say how much Beshear is spending to air the latest ad.
Beshear has raised more than $5 million for his re-election campaign, and, according to his last financial report, still has more than $3 million in the bank. Williams ran TV spots earlier this year in a three-way race for the GOP nomination, spending all of the $1.2 million he had raised. He now will have to replenish his bank account before he can begin advertising again.
As he claimed in the ad, Beshear and his executive staff voluntarily gave up 10 percent of their annual salaries. He ordered furloughs of state employees, including himself, to trim spending and avoid layoffs. And his administration has been auctioning off surplus state property to generate revenue and to cut maintenance costs.
Most recently, Beshear ordered the sale of two surplus planes, a 1975 Piper Navajo that brought $190,100 on eBay.com, and a 1967 Cessna Skyhawk that generated another $41,330.
The proceeds were deposited in the state's General Fund, which pays for basic government services and programs.
In a written statement, Williams campaign manager Luke Marchant criticized Beshear and tried to associate him with President Barack Obama, an unpopular political figure in Kentucky.
"Governor Beshear's economic record is a complete and total failure," Marchant said. "After a few years of Beshear and Obama more Kentuckians are out of work, tens of thousands of jobs have been lost, and Kentucky is considered the worst managed state in America. This governor has not earned a contract extension. Beshear's performance warrants termination, and I expect the people of Kentucky will deliver that news on Election Day."