There has been speculation for some time that David Williams might run for governor. Until yesterday, he had indicated that he had no intention to do so. In stories in both the Courier-Journal and the Lexington Herald-Leader this morning, the Senate President criticized the Fletcher administration, saying he had "great concerns about the governor's re-electability."
Williams now refuses to rule out a run, and said simply that he has to think about his Senate race this fall. With a little parsing, that can be interpreted to mean he's considering a run.
Williams statement does two things:
1. It is an indication to people who might commit to Fletcher early that they should keep their powder dry.
2. It also keeps the money free. As the Herald-Leader observed, Robbie Rudolph, Fletcher's choice of a running mate for 2007, announced last week that the Governor is seeking funds for his reelection. Williams must have calculated that he needed to say something now to prevent Fletcher from getting a fundraising head start. William's strategy will undoubtedly succeed.
Another indication that he might be considering a run is his courting of the party base. His constitutional amendment during the last session attempting to slap the wrist of activist judges, while clearly being an expression of his own sentiments, was also clearly an appeal to religious conservatives.
Williams very public defense of the University of Cumberlands also helps him with the party faithful. When he handed a mock state check for 10 million to the President of the University of Cumberlands in a school ceremony while Fletcher was still trying to decide what to do about the appropriation for the school, he told the audience to call "Ernie" and tell him not to veto the appropriation. Had Fletcher not made the decision he made, Williams would have positioned himself between Fletcher and religious conservatives, an eviable position for Williams and an unenviable one for Fletcher. As it happened, Fletcher made the best decision he could have made (from a number of perspectives) and preserved his position with conservatives.
The events of the past year or so have contributed to an impression among many observers that Fletcher does not know how to wield power. That is one thing that Williams knows how to do.
Williams comments will do another thing: They will contribute to a perception prevalent even before Stumbo's investigation, and a characteristic of the way Republicans deal with each other.
There were two very different reactions to the Fletcher administration when it ran into rough political waters last year: the first was from the party hierarchy, which immediately began distancing itself; the second was from Larry Forgy, who remained loyal to the administration. Forgy has been almost alone among prominent state Republicans in his public defense of Fletcher. "I will be there with him until the last dog dies," Forgy told the Courier-Journal.
This behavior among Republicans--the tendency to shoot their wounded--is in marked contrast to Democrats, who do the party loyalty thing a whole lot better.
At least Williams has the excuse of wanting the office himself. One wonders what excuse the rest have.
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