Jeff. Co. Clerk Bobbie Holsclaw to run for governor in GOP primary with retired Navy officer

01/23/2011 10:06 PM

Jefferson County Clerk Bobbie Holsclaw, a Louisville Republican

(UPDATED Jan. 23, 10:06 p.m.) Bobbie Holsclaw, the Jefferson County Clerk, said Sunday she will run for the Republican nomination for governor and picked as her running mate a retired Navy officer from Grayson County.

Holsclaw told cn|2 Politics in phone interview Sunday night that she had tapped William Vermillion of Caneyville as her lieutenant governor candidate. She first met Vermillion “a couple weeks ago” and made formal the ticket Sunday afternoon “with a handshake,” she said.

“I couldn’t be more delighted,” she said. “He wants to see Kentucky do better the same as I do.”

Holsclaw said she and Vermillion will file their candidacy papers with the Secretary of State’s office on Tuesday, which is the filing deadline.

The Holsclaw-Vermillion ticket would be the third slate in the May 17 Republican primary for governor, joining Senate President David Williams and his running mate, Agriculture Commissioner Richie Farmer, and the slate of Louisville businessman Phil Moffett and his lieutenant governor candidate, state Rep. Mike Harmon of Boyle County.

Moffett campaign manager, David Adams, issued a statement to cn|2 Politics saying that Moffett would welcome Holsclaw into the race even if it splits “the anti-David Williams vote.”

“No one ever said dismantling the political ruling class in Kentucky would be easy,” Moffett’s statement said. “Splitting up the anti-David Williams vote isn’t the way I would have hoped for this to go, but as voters learn his role in driving the state toward bankruptcy while expanding his own pension, there will be plenty of those voters to go around.”

Scott Jennings, Williams’ campaign manager, declined to comment.

Holsclaw won her fourth term as Jefferson County Clerk last fall. She first confirmed her interest in running for governor to cn|2 Politics on Nov. 8 and talked about a potential bid on a Nov. 12 interview on Pure Politics.

She said Sunday night that she will make jobs and education key issues. But she said she also will push for a constitutional amendment to allow expanded gambling, such as slot machines, in Kentucky because she said Kentuckians will be forced to choose between higher taxes or additional state revenue from gambling.

“I want to see it put on the ballot,” she said of a constitutional amendment. “I would tell the voters they’re going to have a choice: What’s it going to be, have someone raise the taxes or allow gambling.”

She said Kentuckians already gamble through the lottery, bingo and at horse tracks, and the state needs more money.

“Kentucky is hurting for money,” she said. “We’re going to bankrupt.”

Vermillion, according to his resume, served 30 years in the U.S. Navy, retiring in the rank of command master chief of the Training Support Center in Great Lakes, Ill. in 2009.

A search of news articles confirmed that Vermillion was command master chief at the center. He listed his current job as teaching at the Academy at Shawnee, a magnet school concentrating in aerospace and energy studies, in Louisville since 2009. Vermillion was born in Toledo, Ohio, but grew up in Bracken County.

Vermillion did not return a call to his cell phone seeking comment Sunday night.

Holsclaw said she’s confident Vermillion will meet the six-year residency requirement to run on a gubernatorial ticket because he maintained his Kentucky driver’s license and continually listed Kentucky as his home state throughout his military career. A state election law passed in 1976 specifically addresses members of the Armed Forces being able to qualify to be on primary ballots.

“I called the Secretary of State’s office to see what the requirements were,” she said. “While they aren’t lawyers, they led me to believe his qualifications were fine.”

A running mate’s residency became a big issue in the 2003 Republican primary for governor when an Oldham Circuit judge ruled Ernie Fletcher’s lieutenant governor candidate Hunter Bates was not a Kentucky resident. Bates served as an aide to Kentucky U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell in Washington. And although he kept his right to vote in Kentucky while staying at a home in Northern Virginia, the judge ruled he was a citizen but not a resident of Kentucky for the full six years as required.

Holsclaw’s entrance into the race  will mark the third straight Republican primary for governor in which a woman from Louisville has run. In 2007, former Louisville congresswoman Anne Northup finished second to Fletcher in a three-way primary with 36% of the vote. In 2003, former Jefferson County Judge-Executive Rebecca Jackson finished second to Fletcher with nearly 28% of the vote.

Holsclaw said she didn’t have a target figure for how much she hoped to raise in the primary. She collected more than $63,000 in her 2002 race for clerk and $55,000 in 2006 and $28,000 last year against a lesser-funded Democratic candidate.

- Ryan Alessi


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