Saturday, October 21, 2000

Patton-Williams fight gets personal

The Associated Press

        FRANKFORT — The governor called the state's top Republican senator a liar Friday; the senator countered accusing him of having been “mouthy drunk” and “out of control.”

        Governor Paul Patton held a press conference in which he accused Senate President David Williams, R-Burkesville, of lying to him and to Kentucky voters about his stance on the ill-fated plan to raise the state's gas tax by 7 cents a gallon to pay for roads.

        The measure failed, handing Mr. Patton a highly publicized loss and Republican leaders a potent weapon with which to beat back a Democratic challenge for the Senate.

        The Kentucky Senate hangs in the balance as the Nov. 7 election nears.

        Republicans are clinging to a 20-18 majority. Control is especially important now because the General Assembly will have to redraw legislative district boundaries after the 2000 census.

        The Kentucky House is overwhelmingly Democratic.

        Mr. Williams held a press conference Friday in which he denies ever making such a promise. He claimed that the night they had the meeting where the topic was discussed last December, Mr. Patton was drunk. The meeting was at the Governor's Mansion.

        “He wasn't falling-down drunk. He was just mouthy drunk,” Mr. Williams said.

        Mr. Williams has been warning voters to keep the Senate under Republican control to block Patton from reviving a gas-tax increase.

        Mr. Patton says that proposal is no longer on his agenda. He points to Mr. Williams' use of the gas-tax issue in Senate campaigns as proof he is an untrustworthy leader who would block progress for political reasons.

        “David Williams' credibility is nonexistent,” the governor said.

        “He has deceived his own members. He has deceived me. He has deceived the people in his own district.... It is not honorable and our government cannot function progressively as long as the Senate is led by an individual who won't do what he says he'll do.”

        The only other person at that meeting, Mr. Patton said, was his chief of staff Skipper Martin, who was on vacation Friday and unavailable for comment.

        Mr. Patton said he recalled Mr. Williams saying, “I want to build big roads. I want to build roads you can see from the moon.”

        Mr. Patton said Mr. Williams also compiled a list of Republican senators who would support a gas tax and Mr. Patton later made his own list that he would provide for any laboratory tests to prove the ink was a year old.

        Mr. Patton said he also would submit to a lie-detector test.

        At his own news conference, Mr. Williams mocked Mr. Patton's offer of a lie detector tests.

        A “pathological liar” can pass a lie detector, Mr. Williams said. “I'll take a lie detector test on whether he was drunk or not.”

        Mr. Patton, when he returned from the funeral of Missouri Governor Mel Carnahan, told reporters he would not dignify Mr. Williams' comments with his own response.


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