FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) -- Republican Bobbie Holsclaw, a proven vote-getter in Louisville where she has been elected county clerk four times, said Sunday she plans to enter the governor's race.
Holsclaw told The Associated Press that she and Bill Vermillion, a retired Navy master chief from Caneyville who will be her running mate, will file candidacy papers on Tuesday.
"I have given this more thought that anyone could ever imagine," said Holsclaw, who describes herself as fiscally and socially conservative. "I'm not in it to hurt anyone, but I have my own vision and my own ideas to help our state."
Holsclaw interviewed several potential running mates in recent weeks before settling on Vermillion, a political newcomer who teaches military science at a Louisville high school.
Her entry makes the GOP primary a three-way race. State Senate President David Williams, a political insider, and Louisville businessman Phil Moffett, a tea party candidate, have already filed to run.
Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear has only token opposition in his party's primary from Harlan County scrap metal dealer Otis Hensley, who plans to officially enter the race before the Tuesday evening filing deadline.
Independent candidate Gatewood Galbraith, a Lexington lawyer, also is running.
Holsclaw will have to make up ground in campaign fundraising. She faces a well-financed opponent in Williams, who ended the year having raised more than $750,000 in campaign cash. Moffett reported raising just more than $50,000.
Williams and running mate Richie Farmer, a former University of Kentucky basketball star, outraised even Beshear over the final two months of 2010, but still trails the first-term governor by a big margin in overall campaign funds. Beshear had surpassed $3.5 million in campaign fundraising by Dec. 31, reports show.
Moffett welcomed Holsclaw into the race on Sunday, though it would appear to weaken his campaign to have another Republican running, especially one from Louisville. Moffett has been sharply critical of Williams throughout the campaign, hoping to win over Republican voters opposed to electing someone who has served more than two decades in Frankfort.
"No one ever said dismantling the political ruling class in Kentucky would be easy," Moffett said in a statement. "Splitting up the anti-David Williams vote isn't the way I would have hoped for this to go."
University of Louisville political scientist Laurie Rhodebeck said Holsclaw is well-liked within Kentucky's largest city, with a strong crossover appeal among Democrats.
"Honesty, a lot of people are just not that excited about Williams or Moffett," Rhodebeck said. "She might be a reasonable alternative to the two."
Williams campaign manager Scott Jennings declined to comment on Holsclaw's announcement.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)