So what does Beshear's $2 million fund-raising lead mean?

07/13/2010 11:05 AM

Gov. Steve Beshear’s fund-raising effort for his re-election bid — which has amassed him a starting warchest of $2 million — has prompted political supporters and opponents to predict that Beshear will be the likely Democratic nominee.

What effect his fund-raising has on potential Republican challengers, well, that remains to be seen.

The campaign of Beshear and his lieutenant governor candidate Jerry Abramson announced last week that the candidates had raised $660,000 in the last three months and had $2 million in the bank. That’s a hefty lead in campaign resources over any prospective candidates from either major party.

At this point in the last gubernatorial election cycle, then-Gov. Ernie Fletcher just switched running mates and had to re-start his fund-raising efforts. He had raised $372,000 in the comparable reporting period in the summer before the election.

Fletcher, whose administration was mired in an investigation into hiring practices, went on to draw two tough primary challengers which led to a costly intra-party battle for him.

Beshear, who isn’t burdened by any legal problems the way Fletcher’s administration was, should have a clear path to win his party’s nomination, predicted Beshear’s chief of staff Adam Edelen.

Steve Robertson, the Republican Party of Kentucky chairman, agreed that the most likely effect is the robust campaign account likely means Beshear is the Democrats’ nominee.

“It might run off some Democrats from opposing him in the primary,” Robertson said. “But it’s not going to scare Republican opposition in the least.”

Robertson said he expects the party to have a top-tier ticket with more name recognition and resources than the last Republican challenger to a Democratic incumbent governor, Peppy Martin, who was the GOP nominee against Gov. Paul Patton in 1999.

“I think there will be a lot of people who look at the race. But I think there will be a ticket that emerges that will have wide support,” Robertson said. “Steve Beshear has done nothing to justify his re-election to Kentucky voters. It’s not that he’s done anything to anger voters. He just certainly hasn’t done anything to impress them.”

So far, state Senate President David Williams has been mentioned most frequently as a potential candidate. Now a tea party-backed slate is close to forming, several conservatives say. And others have been mentioned as being interested in the race, including Stanford banker Jess Correll and Todd County businessman Bill Johnson, who ran for U.S. Senate in the GOP primary this spring before dropping out.

- Ryan Alessi


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