Republicans Vie to Face Democratic Incumbent in Kentucky Governor's Race

This November, Kentucky will be one of three states to hold a gubernatorial election.

This November, Kentucky will be one of three states to hold a gubernatorial election. Incumbent Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear, who unseated an incumbent with nearly 59 percent of the vote in 2007, will face no primary opponent. However, in a state that increasingly trends Republican in federal elections, he may face a spirited challenge in his re-election bid.

Among the Republican candidates that have already announced their candidacy for governor are state Senate President David Williams and businessman Phil Moffett. On Monday, Bobbie Holsclaw, who has been Jefferson County clerk for twelve years, filed her candidacy just before the deadline passed on January 31. The Republican gubernatorial primary is set for May 17.

An independent candidate, Lexington lawyer Gatewood Galbraith, has also filed his candidacy and will appear on the ballot in November.   

The frontrunner for the GOP nomination appears to be Williams, a favorite of the state’s Republican Party establishment. Moffett, the Tea Party–favored candidate, has scheduled an appearance with recently elected Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul in Washington to increase his political profile. Holsclaw, described by Louisville Courier-Journal columnist Al Cross as a “relative loner” and “long shot,” has entered the race because she does not believe that Williams can defeat Beshear in the general election.

Public Policy Polling conducted several polls of the race last year, as did Mason-Dixon and Braun Research. The most recent PPP poll from October showed Beshear defeating Williams by 9 points (44 percent to 35 percent). That same poll showed Beshear defeating Moffett by a more substantial margin—45 percent to 26 percent. While these are substantial margins, the polls are months old and an incumbent who polls under 50 percent may be considered vulnerable.

Noah Rothman is the online editor at C&E. Email him at

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