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Lt.. gov hopefuls break little new ground at forum

by Joe Arnold


Posted on May 3, 2011 at 8:05 AM

One of the consequences of being the frontrunning candidate in an election is being a frequent target.  During the KET forum of Kentucky lieutenant governor candidates in Lexington Monday night, the record of Agriculture Commissioner Richie Farmer framed many of the questions of host Bill Goodman. 

After Farmer was asked to defend his position on participating in the state furlough, and spending decisions on vehicle purchases, hotel stays and attending an agriculture conference at a Caribbean resort, the other candidates, Mike Harmon and Bill Vermillion, were asked what they would have done.

On the question of whether voters should decide whether to expand gambling in Kentucky, the Courier-Journal's Joe Gerth says Farmer's stance appears to be at odds with the position of his running mate, Senate President David Williams.

The Phil Moffett campaign says Farmer espousing Republican Louie Nunn as the Kentucky governor he most admires is the debate's "Walter Mondale" moment:

"Farmer didn't hesitate to tout Louie B. Nunn and specifically to praise Nunn's tax increases (nearly doubling the state sales tax and tripling the state motor vehicle license fee."

The campaign release included a YouTube clip of Farmer's comment.

Perhaps most relevant in any discussion among lieutenant governor candidates is whether and how each are prepared to assume the office of governor.

During the KET forum, Vermillion said his "battle tested and tried" military experience has prepared him, Harmon said his legislative experience has prepared him, and Farmer said his leadership learned from his basketball experience prepared him, then added his two terms as agriculture commissioner. 

Finally, in their introductions of themselves, both Harmon and Vermillion spoke of their decades long marriages, while Farmer - whose wife filed for divorce last month - spoke of his "three wonderful sons" who "are the light of my life."