Grayson's post primary to-do list for Republicans: get unified quickly, stay on message

05/15/2011 05:22 PM

Should Senate President David Williams win the GOP primary for governor on Tuesday, he needs to quickly demonstrate unity with his opponents and show in the first few polls that he is within striking distance of Gov. Steve Beshear, said Trey Grayson.

Grayson, the former Kentucky Secretary of State who is now director of the Harvard University Institute of Politics, said national groups and donors will have to play a key role for Williams.

Williams is expected to spend most if not all of his $1.3 million in the primary, while Beshear, who was unopposed in the Democratic primary, sits on nearly $4 million.

With only three other governors races this year, national Republican groups are likely to spend some money trying to knock off a Democratic incumbent — or at least come close.

“Obviously, Republicans want to win this seat. But if it’s really close against an incumbent Democrat, a close loss can send a message as well,” he said at around the 5:35 mark.

Those first couple polls of the general election will be key.

Williams and running mate Richie Farmer haven’t had the smoothest of primaries. Farmer, the state agriculture commissioner and former University of Kentucky basketball player, has come under scrutiny in the media for his spending of tax dollars on hotel stays in Lexington and Louisville.

The articles about Farmer’s spending might not hurt the ticket too much in the general election, Grayson said. The problem, he said, is that it knocks the challengers off their message against the Democrats, he said.

“Every day that there’s a story about Richie Farmer, it’s not a story that David Williams gets to talk about Gov. Beshear’s lack of performance — the rising unemployment in his term in office and the fact that he doesn’t have plans for a second term and doesn’t have a lot of accomplishments for his first term,” Grayson said at the 2:00 mark of the video.

But the first order of business after Tuesday’s primary, Grayson said, is for Williams to show he has the full support of his GOP primary rivals, Phil Moffett — the Louisville businessman — and Bobbie Holsclaw, the Jefferson County Clerk.

“For David Williams, who’s going to win this primary, the ability to bring the other two candidates and their followers into the fold — at very first at least publicly — is very important,” he said at 0:48.

“The tea party supporters that primarily support Phil Moffett and to a certain extent the ones in Louisville who help out Bobbie Holsclaw — they provide a lot of energy, a lot of the grassroots energy Republicans need in order to win in the fall. So David needs to get those people on board,” Grayson added.

He started by explaining whether some of the effects of an intra-party election can carry over and affect a campaign’s momentum in the general election.

“It can,” he said. “Sometimes you do have hurt feelings in the primary that carry forward, sometimes in a private way.” (see the start of the video)

- Ryan Alessi

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