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Former Gov. Brown of Kentucky Faces 2 Former Allies in Primary

May 24, 1987|Associated Press

FRANKFORT, Ky. — Former Gov. John Y. Brown Jr., the front-runner in Kentucky's Democratic gubernatorial primary as he seeks a second term, finds himself hounded by a pair of former allies and a gambling issue.

His nearest challenger in Tuesday's primary, Lexington businessman Wallace Wilkinson, was finance chairman for Brown's aborted race for the U.S. Senate in 1984.

Brown, who served as governor from 1979 to 1983 but was constitutionally barred from a successive term, is ahead in all polls, some of which show him 20 points ahead of Wilkinson in the field of eight Democrats.

But Wilkinson has charged that Brown opposes a lottery, and Brown has been forced to backtrack on statements made during a debate on the subject as his lead in the polls has eroded in recent weeks.

"I'm the last person in the world who would oppose gambling," Brown joked recently with factory workers in Louisville.

Brown's reputation as a high roller was turned into a campaign issue by another opponent, Lt. Gov. Steve Beshear.

Beshear ran a series of television commercials that painted Brown as a high-stakes gambler who associates with other gamblers and convicted drug traffickers.

Brown, a millionaire businessman married to former Miss America Phyllis George and the former owner of Kentucky Fried Chicken, has acknowledged he had a penchant for high living in Las Vegas and elsewhere, but said he has toned down his style.

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