Williams should cruise to nomination, can start again with clean slate, GOP strategist says

05/12/2011 06:22 PM

Senate President David Williams should win the GOP nomination for governor in a walk and has a chance to leave behind the stumbles he and his running mate, Richie Farmer, have had down the stretch of the primary, Republican strategist Ted Jackson said.

Jackson said the other two Republican candidates, Jefferson County clerk Bobbie Holsclaw and Louisville businessman Phil Moffett, never proved to be serious contenders. The race was over before it started, he said.

“Moffett and Holsclaw neither one have been on the air, neither one have raised any money to be competitive. I think that for most people, there’s only one candidate in this race in terms of perception and in terms of media presence and it’s David Williams,” Jackson says. (see the :40 mark of the clip)

In the latest SurveyUSA poll for WHAS-11 and the Courier-Journal, Williams had 47% of respondents’ support in the Republican primary — with a 26 point lead over Moffett and a 35 point lead over Holsclaw, with 21% undecided.

Jackson, who has worked on campaigns dating back to Louie Nunn in 1979, is confident the general election, pitting Governor Steve Beshear against Williams, won’t be a one-sided affair, even though Beshear has a considerable fund-raising advantage at this point.

“The resources are going to be here for David. There are four governor races in the United States this year, this is the one that matters,” Jackson says (see the 4:50 mark of the clip)

Beshear’s running mate, former Louisville mayor Jerry Abramson, had overstated popularity in the state’s largest city, Jackson said, and brings other potential negatives for voters, such as being pro-choice and pro gun control.

“I’ve always thought his popularity in Louisville was inflated in the first place because there was nothing to compare him to. He’s reasonably popular, but I don’t see a lot of people marching around with signs for Jerry Abramson,” Jackson said (See the 4:20 mark of the clip)

But Williams and Farmer have had their share of trouble during the primary. Farmer’s wife filed for divorce in April. Williams came under scrutiny for his gambling losses reported as part of his divorce filings from 2003. And Farmer has been the subject of news articles for his spending of tax dollars for hotel stays in Lexington and Louisville.

Those recent rough patches for Williams and his running mate, Agriculture Commissioner Richie Farmer, will be old news by the summer, Jackson said.

Jackson envisions a sort of reset for the Williams/Farmer campaign and a fresh start in the weeks after the primary, and plenty of outside money coming in to help.

“What happens post primary is going to be far more important than what happens pre-primary,” Jackson says. (see the 2:45 mark of the clip)

But Jackson acknowledges that there are formidable challenges in beating an incumbent governor who didn’t have a primary and has nearly $4 million in campaign cash in the bank.

“There is no question that beating an incumbent governor, particularly a Democratic incumbent governor in this state, is a big challenge (see the 4:40 mark of the clip)

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