A leading opponent of expanded gaming in Kentucky says Republican gubernatorial candidate David Williams’s gambling past won’t hurt him with voters.
According to divorce papers obtained by the Lexington Herald-Leader, Williams reported over $36,000 in gambling losses from 1999 to 2002.
Opponents say that is in contrast to the state Senate president’s position publicly, where he has opposed Democratic Governor Steve Beshear’s plan to allow casinos, slot machines, and video lottery terminals at racetracks to buoy the state’s struggling horse industry.
However, Executive Director of the Family Foundation of Kentucky Kent Ostrander says Williams admitted his gambling past long ago, and voters know he’s stood against the policy.
“Over these last number of years, his convictions and his concerns have continued to grow and we are extremely pleased that he has taken the stand that he has publicly against casinos. And that he has personally told us that he doesn’t go to casinos anymore because he sees the problems that they generate,” he says
In past public comments, Williams has said gambling is not a moral issue, and opposes it as public policy for the state to raise revenue.
Williams is running against Jefferson County Clerk Bobbie Holsclaw and Louisville business Phil Moffett in the May 17 primary, but neither of his opponents have responded to the news directly.
The Kentucky Democratic Party, however, has jumped on the opportunity to call the Republican favorite a hypocrite.
“While blowing a couple grand at the track, David Williams doesn’t seem to share the sense of frugality with which most Kentucky families manage their household finances,” KDP Chairman Dan Logsdon said in a message to supporters. “Most folks don’t walk around with thousands of dollars in their pocket ready to put it on the line at a casino or a racetrack. Kentucky families are too busy paying the bills, raising their families and working to stretch their hard earned dollars to live David Williams’ opulent lifestyle.”
It’s unclear if Williams’s past gambling woes will hurt him among GOP voters, but supporters such as Ostrander say have forgiven him and will not his opposition to gaming the state Senate.
“Conservatives voters generally are concerned about government trying to make losers of its own citizens,” he says. “And so his more recent stand over these last 10 years and more convicted stand at this point I think will not hurt any conservative that is already considering voting for David Williams.”