By Charles Wolfe
The Associated Press
FRANKFORT - The court battle over Ernie Fletcher threatened to paralyze his campaign, even if rivals failed to knock him out of the Republican governor's race altogether.
It has been nearly two weeks since a judge in Oldham County declared that Fletcher's running mate, Hunter Bates, was not a bona fide candidate for lieutenant governor because he had lived in Virginia for most of the last six years.
The ruling did more than deprive Fletcher of a running mate. He lost an eloquent campaign partner who was an able stand-in at public events.
That was especially important for Fletcher who, being a congressman, was more or less trapped in Washington through the week. If he skipped out to go campaign, he left himself vulnerable to criticism that he was neglecting his job.
Fletcher "needs to name a running mate in the very near future and then move forward with running a positive campaign," one of his allies, Kenton County Judge-executive Richard Murgatroyd, said last week.
Fletcher plans to name Stephen B. Pence, U.S. attorney for the Western District of Kentucky, to his slate, according to sources close to the campaign.
Having succeeded in getting Bates declared ineligible, Heleringer is pressing Franklin County Circuit Court and the Kentucky Court of Appeals to make the same declaration of Fletcher.
Heleringer contends Fletcher rendered himself ineligible by choosing Bates.
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