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Williams 'working on this likeability thing'

by Joe Arnold


Posted on May 19, 2011 at 12:36 AM

Updated Thursday, May 19 at 10:28 AM

In his first speech since capturing the Republican nomination for Kentucky governor on Tuesday night, Senate President David Williams (R-Burkesville)  acknowledged that his public image needs work, but says Kentucky's two largest newspapers try to make him look bad.

"I'm working on this likeability thing," Williams told about 100 people at a Jeffersontown Chamber of Commerce luncheon.

"If some of you don't recognize me, that would be me," Williams said, taking off his glasses and sneering at the audience in the first of several unflattering poses he offered as examples of how he is photographed, "Or, I could give you my bloated look or my angry look."

Williams says he is most offended by a Sunday Courier-Journal editorial that called his neighborhood schools campaign ad, "vile."

Williams said the editorial insinuated that he was a racist.

"They talked about blonde children being in the ad, which would insinuate even worse things," Williams continued, "to compare me even to a Nazi?"

Williams' rough and tumble style as Senate President and pointed demeanor has earned him a lot of names.
"The bully from Burkesville," Williams recalled.

The question this fall is - what label will stick?

"I want to hear that personality come through," said voter Jeff Rogers, "I want to see. I haven't heard him speak but heard rumors about it."

"I'll hold my judgement to see what he has to say," said Chris Reece, "absolutely give him a chance."

"I want you to like me," Williams told the luncheon, "I like all of you. But, I would rather you respect what we are trying to do and get accomplished."

One night earlier, Williams made an impassioned plea to undecided voters, to keep an open mind as they decide their vote.

"I ask you to look into my heart," Williams said during his acceptance speech, "To look into my heart and travel these next several months with me as we express a vision as to what Kentucky can be."

But first, Williams has to convince the 52 percent of Republican voters who didn't support him.

"I think we have proven the tea party is a vibrant and powerful group in Kentucky," said Tea Party challenger Phil Moffett, to whom undecided voters flocked in the primary.

Moffett is hedging on an endorsement.

"We'll just have to wait and see how that goes," he said on Tuesday night.

"I'm not going to compare myself to anybody else," said Governor Steve Beshear at the Democratic rally, "What I would say is that I've led this state through the worst recession of our lifetimes."

"The question really is," suggested Democratic lieutenant governor candidate Jerry Abramson, "are the people of the Commonwealth going to be focused on people that are running for office throwing barbs and calling people names?"

"That wasn't throwing a barb at me?" responded Williams when told of Abramson's comment, "You know, they throw barbs at me everyday through their minions, their Kentucky Chairman of the Democratic Party.  This is what the party does, these are the same people who brought you Aqua Buddha."
Meanwhile, the former Kentucky Republican Party chairman and gubernatorial candidate Larry Forgy said that the dynamics of the Kentucky voting public favor Williams in the 2011 race.

"City vs. rural, blue vs. red, conservative vs. liberal," Forgy said.

In 2011, the lieutenant governor candidates are also a big factor.  With Ag Commissioner Richie Farmer counting on his Kentucky Wildcat fame and former Louisville mayor Jerry Abramson strong in larger cities.

"Jerry Abramson will campaign in alligator shoes with tassels on them," Forgy laughed, "and a big Cardinal right here (on his chest).  And let me tell you, that breaks out about 85-15 in the state."