Just as politicos around Kentucky set their sights on Fancy Farm, the most recent poll on the Governor’s Race shows Republican David Williams still trailing incumbent Democrat Steve Beshear by a healthy 24 points. A margin very similar to a different poll that was disputed by Williams and company. So now the question seems to be how soon will the GOP go negative in the gubernatorial contest. I think Saturday’s Fancy Farm blowout will provide all the answers.
I know this will come as a shock, but Williams has clear problems with likeability. A 36 percent unfavorable rating among likely voters is not something any candidate wants to see with only three months left in the campaign. So what will the Burkesville strongman do about it? My gut tells me the campaign will try to turn running mate Richie Farmer loose as an attack dog on Beshear and his running mate Jerry Abramson, but part of me wonders if Farmer has the aggressiveness he would require for that role. After all, Farmer has built his post UK reputation on being a nice guy and the quintessential former Wildcat. Counting on him to pound away may not be very effective or realistic. Frankly Richie has been a non-factor in this race.
But, Williams himself can’t really afford to go on the negative offensive either. If he tries that, he might even finish behind Independent Gatewood Galbraith who claims nine percent of the likely voters at this writing. Gatewood has the unique position of appealing to some serious liberals and Tea Party backers at the same time. His liberal social stances contrast with his fiscal conservatism so he might be a palatable alternative for some of the eleven percent of undecided voters. However don’t expect Galbraith’s presence to tip the election.
As for Beshear-he really hasn’t done much to get voters excited, but then again he’s been trying to balance budgets for most of his term, so not much could really get done. It brings to mind Will Rogers’ statement about Calvin Coolidge. “He didn’t do nothing, but that’s what we wanted done.” Not exactly like Beshear but close. The incumbent Democrat boasts the support of 52 percent of likely voters. Beshear and Williams have faced some recent negative press too. Williams for some ethics complaints regarding alleged gambling winnings, and Beshear for alleged strong-arm tactics to get campaign contributions from state workers. Don’t expect either of those to get much traction prior to Fancy Farm.
As for what you can expect at the Fancy Farm Picnic? Obviously the food, and music, along with lot’s of heat. But with a gubernatorial race you can also be sure to see, and hear theatrics galore. At the 2007 shindig, incumbent Ernie Fletcher made sport of Beshear’s expanded casino plan with a character that looked vaguely like Beshear. He was dressed in a loud zoot suit with shades, and was named “Easy Money Steve”. He circulated through the crowd handing out faux casino chips. I doubt things will be that hilarious this time out, but I would expect negativity and fireworks to rule the day. More to come the day after.