GOP's Larry Hopkins to endorse Gov. Beshear instead of '91 manager David Williams

08/18/2011 09:05 AM

*(UPDATED WITH VIDEO)*Former Republican Congressman Larry Hopkins snubbed GOP gubernatorial candidate David Williams — who managed Hopkins’ 1991 primary campaign for governor — by backing Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear for re-election.

Hopkins made his endorsement announcement in Lexington with First Lady Jane Beshear, saying Beshear was the best leader of all three gubernatorial candidates on the fall ballot.

But in a question and answer period with reporters, Hopkins said his endorsement wasn’t supposed to be a slight to Williams. Hopkins told reporters he was friends with all three gubernatorial candidates, Beshear, Williams and independent Gatewood Galbraith.

Hopkins also endorsed Steve Beshear in September 2007. And Beshear went on to defeat Republican Gov. Ernie Fletcher two months later.

The governor told Pure Politics at the Kentucky State Fair on Thursday that he didn’t consider it “a slap to anybody” but instead described it as a signal of wide support for his re-election bid.

Williams said in an interview Thursday morning that he wasn’t surprised Hopkins was backing Beshear because Hopkins has supported other Democrats in recent years.

Williams was a 38-year-old senator when Hopkins picked him to serve as his campaign manager in the 1991 Republican primary for governor. Williams stepped down as manager after the primary, in which Hopkins narrowly defeated Larry Forgy in the primary.

One of the key issues in that primary was Williams’ call for Forgy to release his tax returns to the public, a call the Kentucky Democratic Party is now placing on Williams’ own plate.

Hopkins said Thursday that Williams should release his tax returns to the public.

That was a nasty primary. At one point, Williams called Forgy “a self-centered, egotistical person who’s more interested in his own candidacy than what good he could do.”

Oddly, Forgy is one of Williams staunchest supporters in the 2011 race, while Hopkins is now on Beshear’s side.

“I was wrong in 1991,” Williams said. “And Larry Forgy is right now.”

In that 1991 race, Democrat Brereton Jones, then the lieutenant governor, soundly defeated Hopkins 65 percent to 35 percent that November.


Subscribe to email updates.

Subscribe and get the latest political intelligence delivered to your inbox.