Meet the Candidates: Down ballot Republicans road test messages for May primary

02/01/2011 10:03 AM

PADUCAH — With Kentucky Republicans facing choices for several statewide offices this year — auditor, secretary of state, agricultural commissioner and gubernatorial slates — all but one of the Republicans on the May 17 primary ballot tested out their messages to a GOP audience over the weekend.

Thirteen Republican candidates for constitutional offices made the trek to a forum at Paducah’s Carson Center on Friday night. It was the first major event on the Republican speaking circuit following last Tuesday’s filing deadline and gave more than 200 Paducah Republicans a first look at their choices.

For some — Secretary of State candidate Hilda Legg, Auditor candidate Addia Wuchner and the gubernatorial slate of Bobbie Holsclaw and Bill Vermillion  — the event marked their debut on the statewide political stage.

Only lieutenant governor candidate Richie Farmer, who is running on a gubernatorial slate with Senate President David Williams, was absent from the speaking lineup. Scott Jennings, campaign manager for Williams-Farmer, said Farmer had a long-scheduled charity event in Lexington to attend.

cn|2 had the only camera rolling during all of the candidates’ speeches. (Click here to check out highlights of the gubernatorial candidates’ remarks and their different opinions over immigration.)

The Republicans have primary contests in four races and two — attorney general candidate Todd P’Pool and treasurer candidate K.C. Crosbie — have locked up the GOP nominations because no one filed against them. Here is a first look at the pitches each candidate will be making to GOP voters:

P’Pool, though unopposed, sparked the most reaction from the crowd and showed more energy than the other candidates, even those running for governor.

Republican Attorney General nominee:

P’Pool, the Hopkins County Attorney, went on the offensive about President Barack Obama and the health care law Congress passed last year.

P’Pool criticized incumbent Attorney General Jack Conway for not joining other attorneys general in challenging the constitutionality of the law for requiring individuals have health insurance as a way to compel insurance companies not to deny covering someone with a pre-existing condition.

A federal judge in Florida ruled that provision unconstitutional on Monday, following a similar ruling by a judge in Virginia. Two other judges decided previously decided the law was appropriate.

Lieutenant Governor candidates:

The forum was the first political speaking event for Bill Vermillion, a teacher and former Navy officer who is running with Jefferson County Clerk Bobbie Holsclaw as a gubernatorial slate.

Vermillion admitted he hadn’t had time to write his speech so he was following the advice of his wife “to be himself.”

State Rep. Mike Harmon of Boyle County is running with Louisville businessman Phil Moffett. He said their team offers a four-corners plan that is different from what has mostly been debated in Frankfort in recent years.

State Auditor candidates:

John Kemper III, a Lexington businessman, told Republicans he’s running for auditor because it was the best statewide office to tackle his objectives for when he ran for the 6th Congressional District last year. Kemper finished fourth out of six candidates in that May 2010 primary for Congress.

State Rep. Addia Wuchner of Florence promoted her conservative credentials and promised to hold the executive branch to being accountable as auditor.

Secretary of State candidates:

Hilda Legg, former director of the Center for Rural Development in Somerset, touted her civics background and government service.

Bill Johnson, who previously ran in the 2010 Republican U.S. Senate primary before dropping out, said he wanted to work with businesses and require picture ID at polling places if he was elected as secretary of state.

Agriculture Commissioner candidates:

Current Shelby County Judge Executive Rob Rothenburger stressed the need for urban education about agriculture, as well as continuing to promote the Kentucky Proud program.

State Rep. Jamie Comer said the agricultural community needed a strong communicator to defend it. He said the community needs to go on the offensive against “liberals who are attacking it.”

GOP nominee for state treasurer:

K.C. Crosbie, a city council member in Lexington, promoted her fiscal background. She said she’s running for treasurer to keep taxes low and to help Kentucky’s investments.

-Videos produced and reporting by Kenny Colston.


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