GOP ticket with tea party support close to forming

07/12/2010 11:08 PM

(WITH VIDEO) The first Republican gubernatorial ticket for 2011 — and one with the backing of tea party activists — could be announced by the end of this week and perhaps as soon as Tuesday, key conservatives confirmed to cn|2 Politics on Monday night.

Conservative radio show host Leland Conway said he has been put on notice that a slate could be announced on his afternoon radio show on Lexington’s WLAP-630 AM “as early as tomorrow.”

Conway said he wasn’t at liberty to talk about who might be on the ticket. But he eliminated the possibility that he might be a candidate in 2011.

The name of David Adams, the campaign chairman of Republican candidate Rand Paul’s U.S. Senate bid, has popped up in the middle of much speculation about the ticket.

David Adams, with phone, fields questions before Rand Paul's victory speech on the May 18 primary election.

Adams has fueled some of the speculation with ambiguous tweets, including one on Sunday that he was “proud to announce that some of the rumors are true.” At 8:30 p.m. Monday, Adams tweeted that he was “meeting lots of good people in Stanford,” which is the home town of banker Jess Correll. Correll has been widely mentioned as a possible GOP candidate for governor.

When asked about rumors that Correll and Adams were discussing forming a ticket, Adams told cn|2 Politics “it’s a pretty good rumor.” But he declined to confirm whether a slate was final and whether he would be on it.

Of course it could be that Adams and Correll might be lining up to play key support roles for a tea party-backed ticket — with Adams serving as a campaign manager, as he did for Paul in the primary, and Correll acting as a point man on fund-raising. Correll has been active in raising funds for and generous in donating his own money to conservative Kentucky candidates.

“I am anxious in seeing the best possible ticket is put together on the Republican side in 2011,” Adams said. “I think that can come together in certain ways. I’m not ready to comment on any particular candidate … I understand that there will be an announcement related to what we’re talking about possibly as soon as tomorrow.”

But he did say he was interested in running for office — a change in tone from an interview with cn|2 Politics in mid-May before Paul handily won the Republican U.S. Senate primary.

“I think I’m more interested in it than I was when we last spoke, certainly,” Adams said Monday night.

Adams also has hinted at the formation of a tea party slate to Lowell Reese of Kentucky Roll Call.

Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear is running for a second term and already has raised more than $2 million in that effort. A slate of independent candidates from Lexington, Gatewood Galbraith and Dea Riley, also have filed paperwork to lay the groundwork for a run. But so far no Republicans have entered the fray.

State Senate President David Williams of Burkesville has been one of the most frequently mentioned GOP contender. But so far, he has neither confirmed nor denied interest in running.

But Williams has his share of detractors, even from the right.

Mica Sims, organizer of Lexington tea party events and a conservative blogger, has openly criticized Williams for not having true fiscal conservative credentials.

Sims said in an interview that Williams, as Senate president, has signed off on unstable budgets over the last decade that have been packed with projects that have bloated the state’s debt.

“My personal opinion: I do not think that his record shows he’s a fiscal conservative,” she said. “No, I don’t see David Williams as a candidate for governor who would be supported by the tea party.”

Williams, though, has touted his opposition to the version of the budget the House Democrats passed that included $1.2 billion in bonds for construction projects, many of which were for schools. Democrats said those projects would create thousands of jobs in areas that needed them most.

In the end, Williams and the Senate Republicans won out in that battle, although the road project budget the General Assembly passed in May was overstuffed with projects. Williams told cn|2 Politics that two areas he believes should be protected from dramatic cuts are the Medicaid program and roads.

Despite some tea party opposition, Kentucky most famous tea party advocate — Paul — said he could support Williams for governor:

That is a change from Paul’s assessment of Williams as a potential U.S. Senate candidate at a March 2009 Bluegrass Policy Institute event in Lexington. Paul predicted Williams would get “squashed” in a Republican primary because he had aligned himself with more establishment Republicans:

Adams said Monday night that regardless of who forms tickets, a GOP primary for governor is likely.

“There are some interesting dynamics related to a primary that will play out and be fun to watch,” Adams said. “But that will really heat up after the first of the year. By that point, an awful lot of the behind-the-scenes work will be done.”

- Ryan Alessi


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