Kentucky's Embattled Gov. Fletcher Beats Challenge in GOP Primary
Wednesday, May 23, 2007
LOUISVILLE, May 22 -- Kentucky Gov. Ernie Fletcher won the GOP nomination for a second term Tuesday, nine months after authorities dismissed charges that he violated hiring laws to reward supporters with state jobs.
Fletcher withstood challenges from former congresswoman Anne M. Northup and millionaire businessman Billy Harper.
With 96 percent of precincts reporting, Fletcher had 51 percent of the vote to Northup's 36 percent. Harper had 13 percent.
Fletcher will face former lieutenant governor Steve Beshear in November's general election.
Beshear won a crowded Democratic primary with 41 percent of the vote. Millionaire businessman Bruce Lunsford was second with 21 percent.
Fletcher, the state's first Republican governor in more than 30 years, took office in 2003 on a promise to clean up the state Capitol, but the grand jury that indicted him last year alleged Fletcher had approved a "widespread and coordinated plan" to skirt state hiring laws.
Fletcher called the grand jury's investigation a political witch hunt, and his attorneys brokered a deal with prosecutors to dismiss the allegations.
After Northup lost her bid for a sixth congressional term in November, the state's senior Republicans urged her to challenge Fletcher.
Beshear made legalizing casinos the centerpiece of his campaign, saying gambling could generate $500 million a year in additional tax revenue for the state.