Bunning endorses Williams in KY governor’s race

August 29th, 2011 · 1:19 pm @ J. Marshall Hughes  -  No Comments

By: Roger Alford, Associated Press
August 27, 2011

Former U.S. Sen. Jim Bunning publicly endorsed Republican David Williams in Kentucky’s race for governor on Saturday, a signal to GOP voters loyal to the former major league pitcher that the two longtime political allies are back together.

Bunning told more than 100 of his closest friends and supporters at a northern Kentucky picnic on Saturday that electing Williams and other Republicans running for state offices could improve the state’s business climate.

Bunning, a member of the National Baseball Hall of Fame, said no one should be surprised by his endorsement of Williams in a race against Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear.

“David Williams has been there every time I needed him,” Bunning told The Associated Press after making the endorsement.

Williams had been mentioned as a potential challenger to Bunning in last year’s Republican Senate primary. That was at a time when GOP leaders in Washington were pressuring Bunning, a staunch fiscal conservative, not to seek re-election, fearing he was politically vulnerable to a Democratic challenge.

Neither Williams nor Bunning ran in that primary. But to Bunning loyalists, even being mentioned as a challenger could be off-putting, making Saturday’s endorsement crucial.

Former Secretary of State Trey Grayson and Bowling Green eye surgeon Rand Paul faced off for the GOP nomination. Paul went on to win both the primary and the general elections.

Williams attended Saturday’s picnic where he paid homage to Bunning, who has kept a low profile politically since leaving the Senate at the end of last year.

“After Sen. Bunning retired on his own terms, I assumed the mantel as the Republican and conservative that liberals and liberal newspapers hate the most,” Williams said. “And I’m proud to wear that badge.”

Williams credited Bunning with helping to inspire him to public service and with changing the face of Kentucky politics by standing on his convictions, even though he was often a lone voice.

In an especially complimentary speech, Williams said Bunning ought also to be in halls of fame as a father, grandfather and political leader.

“His speeches ought to be a part of every civics course taught in the United States of America,” Williams gushed.

All of Kentucky’s GOP candidates for state offices attended the picnic, hoping to get Bunning’s stamp of approval. Bunning gave a broad endorsement to all, saying “I am darn sure that David and his group that are running could change the atmosphere in Kentucky for business.”

Williams and a third candidate, Lexington attorney Gatewood Galbraith who is running as an independent, are trailing badly in the polls. Williams declared Saturday that he will not be discouraged by those polls with more than two months remaining before the Nov. 8 election.

“We can win,” he said.

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