Monday, May 24, 1999

Governor primary a snoozer


GOP contest spurs little N.Ky. action

BY PATRICK CROWLEY
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        The race for the Republican nomination for Kentucky governor has not really been much of a race at all.

        Peppy Martin, a Hart County publicist and tobacco farmer, has done little campaigning and has raised less than $10,000. She has done no local advertising, has not held a Northern Kentucky fund-raiser and has no organization in this area, one of the strongest Republican bastions in the state.

        But she's a tireless campaigner compared to her opponent, Adair County utility contractor David L. Williams.

        Mr. Williams has raised no money; has his wife, Joanna, as his running mate; has made no campaign appearances other than a May 11 televised debate with Ms. Martin; and hasn't granted any interviews.

        With stronger, better-known and more experienced candidates sitting the race out, GOP leaders are all but conceding the November election to Democratic incumbents Gov. Paul Patton and Lt. Gov. Steve Henry.

        Even top Republicans say few people are watching a primary race that is expected to draw less than 10 percent of registered GOP voters, according to state and local election officials.

        “I haven't even heard it talked about,” said lawyer-lobbyist and former state party Chairman Tom Jensen, who lives in London, in south-central Kentucky, one of the state's most Republican re gions.

        At times, the race has seemed like a comedy of errors.

        Despite being a candidate for statewide office, Mr. Williams apparently disconnected his own telephone last week.

        Over in Ms. Martin's camp, hackers recently broke into and manipulated her campaign's Web site. She admits she didn't know her lieutenant governor running mate, Wanda Cornelius, until two weeks lbefore the election.

        She's issued no news releases, issue statements or background material on her self, though she did have a campaign flier printed.

        But Ms. Martin has reached out to the media and has been eager to discuss her platform with anyone who will listen.

        “I'm a Kentucky gal who knows she can do a good job running this state,” said Ms. Martin, who has never held office but who served in the administration of Gov. Louie Nunn, the last Republican governor.

        “I've been around politics most of my life and I want to lead our state into the next century,” she said.

        On policy and issues, both candidates are against casino gambling in Kentucky. Mr. Patton has said the legislature should study approving gambling as a way to raise more revenue for the state.

        “We have enough gambling with the Kentucky Lottery,” Mr. Williams said during the May 11 debate, adding that more of the proceeds from the state lottery should go to education.

        Both are also against raising the state's gas tax, another idea Mr. Patton has asked the

        General Assembly to consider as a way to pump money into the state's ailing road repair fund.

        The candidates have said Kentucky residents and businesses pay too many taxes, and that reducing the tax burden would help bring more jobs into Kentucky.

        "We don't need corporate welfare,” Ms. Martin said. “We need lower taxes.”

        She said lowering taxes could help her achieve a goal of opening a new factory or major employer in each of Kentucky's 120 counties every year.

        Mr. Williams has also advocated lowering taxes and said the state's workers compensation laws need to be changed so workers can have better protection and access to benefits.

        Mr. Williams also said he would oppose efforts to lower the blood-alcohol level authorities use when determining if a person can be charged with drunken driving.

        On abortion, Mr. Williams said he is opposed to it in all instances.

        Ms. Martin said she could support a ban on late-term abortions known as partial birth abortions.

        But she also thinks state government should have limited involvement when it comes to other abortions.

        “I am pro privacy,” she said. “I think it is up to the community to decide how they want to handle” curbing access to abortions.

        “I am for small government ... and you cannot have small government and less taxes, as Republicans like to say they want, and have Big Brother telling people how to live their private lives.”

       



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