Kentucky Race Sets Up Battle of the 'Bill Farmers'

Republican contender Bill Farmer Jr. wants to be elected state representative for the newly created 88th District in Fayette County, Kentucky.

But his opponent, Democrat R. Stewart Perry, has garnered some key support from local politicians, including notable Republicans.

And perhaps the most notable of Perry's supporters against Bill Farmer Jr. is … Bill Farmer Jr.

And Bill Farmer Jr. isn't very happy about it.

"The other Bill Farmer can come out and endorse anyone he wants to. What he said was that he is the real Bill Farmer, meaning that anyone else who has the name Bill Farmer or William Farmer is not real," candidate Bill Farmer Jr. said.

So, who is the other real Bill Farmer Jr.?

He is a Republican Lexington city councilman and local jeweler who happens to be close friends with Perry and wanted to throw his support behind the candidate. Prior to the May 28 primary, Councilman Farmer and Perry held a press conference that aired on local television.

"My thing wasn't so much to say something bad about Bill Farmer Jr. but to say that there are times when you put partisanship aside and choose the best person," said Councilman Farmer, who doesn't live in the 88th District that includes most of Lexington. "This was one of those times. Stewart's the right guy for the job."

Perry, an insurance salesman, said the Farmer vs. Farmer issue was never intentional.

"That news conference was scheduled long before the primary election … and was about bipartisan support for my campaign," he said. "I didn't know I'd be running against Bill Farmer. All I knew was that I was going to be running against a Republican."

But that excuse is not good enough for candidate Farmer, a tax accountant and native Lexingtonian, who said Councilman Farmer's expression that he was the real Bill Farmer disserves all the Bill Farmers of Kentucky.

"We did a quick Internet run and found 26 other William Farmers in Kentucky," candidate Farmer said. "So by coming out and saying you're the real Bill Farmer, what is everybody else? Not real? Are we clones, artificial or what?"

Candidate Farmer added that he has gone to great lengths to clearly identify the difference between the Farmers, and has not in any way capitalized on the name confusion in his campaign.

If anything, Councilman Farmer said, the other Farmer has probably benefited from having the same name as a longtime local politician. Candidate Farmer won his primary by only 18 votes against someone not named Bill Farmer Jr.

"I know that I personally had a couple phone calls on my machine that night from people saying, 'Hey, I voted for you tonight, I hope you did real well.' Well, that's not possible," Councilman Farmer said, laughing. I'm sure some people had a bit of misinformation and voted for Bill Farmer on the city council and not the Bill Farmer who runs a tax service and is running for a legislative seat."

Candidate Farmer said he isn't worried that the name confusion will hurt his chances at the polls Nov. 5.

"In five months, there will be a lot more important things to be said besides who said I'm the real Bill Farmer," he said.