Race is on for candidates to set the tone -- Beshear as a job creator, Williams as a stronger leader

05/20/2011 08:10 AM

With the primary field set, Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear will have to move quickly to show voters he has been trying to create jobs during the economic downturn, while Republican challenger must burnish his reputation, analysts said.

Both candidates have started. Beshear bought three weeks worth of ads starting Monday and Williams launched a web ad yesterday questioning Beshear’s leadership.

Jim Cauley, a Democratic strategist who ran Beshear’s 2007 campaign but isn’t working with the governor this year, said Beshear is smart to tap into his campaign warchest now to set the tone.

“If I had all the money in the world, I’d go out and set the tone — begin the race on my terms. Set the conversation,” he said at around the 1:40 mark. “I honestly don’t think money will be a problem for either of these candidates.”

And that message should be all about the jobs, Cauley said.

Even though Kentucky has one of the highest unemployment rates in the country, that message can still be effective with voters if Beshear underscores the jobs that have been created, Cauley said.

“You’ve got to remember, people worry about themselves. It’s about their jobs, their lives. If you’re not speaking to their hopes and dreams, then you don’t need to be leading the state of Kentucky.”

Williams, meanwhile, must highlight early and often what Beshear hasn’t done, said Jerry Miller, a Republican Louisville councilman and Williams supporter.

“He’s got to come out and say, ‘Yes, Steve Beshear has not made any mistakes, but he hasn’t done anything,’” Miller said starting at the 3:36 mark of the video. “David is a guy who can take charge of issues. Some people may not like him, but he can get things done. And I think we’re going to see ‘David the leader’ trumpeted across the state.”

An independent ticket of Gatewood Galbraith and Dea Riley are collecting signatures to get on the Nov. 8 ballot.

(The interview was taped Tuesday night after the primary results and aired in Wednesday’s edition of Pure Politics.)


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