Urban County Councilman Bill Farmer Jr. went on the attack in a TV commercial with partisan overtones. It compares corporate attorney Jim Newberry to Democratic U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton.

In the 30-second ad, airing on all three major network affiliates, Newberry is labeled as a "liberal Democrat," while Farmer is called a "conservative." The race is ostensibly non-partisan.

The other two candidates are Mayor Teresa Isaac and cigar store owner Charles Martin Jr. Martin did not attend the forum because he had a conflicting campaign event. The May 16 primary will narrow the field to two for the fall election.

As the two challengers exchanged body blows, the incumbent largely stayed out of the fray. Isaac also has a new TV ad, but it focuses almost exclusively on her accomplishments in office and her love for the job of mayor. So far, the two challengers have not focused much firepower on Isaac.

During the forum, Farmer defined conservatism as smaller government and cutting taxes. He has proposed a slight reduction in the county payroll tax that would save the average person about $40 a year.

Jennifer Miller, an audience member who acknowledged that Newberry is a friend, said during a question-and-answer session that she had seen Farmer's ad linking Newberry with Clinton.

She said that during President Bill Clinton's eight years in office the federal budget was balanced, but that Gov. Ernie Fletcher and President George W. Bush have been deficit spenders.

Farmer's TV ad focuses on a health care plan that Newberry helped craft when he headed up the Governor's Task Force on Health Care Access and Affordability for former Gov. Brereton Jones.

The 1992 task force recommendations included offering a basic medical plan to cover uninsured Kentuckians, creating an insurance pool to cover those with "high-risk illnesses" who couldn't be insured and allowing people to change jobs without losing medical coverage.

The ad says that the Hillary Clinton-like plan created by the task force "increased the price of health care, covered fewer people and drove doctors and jobs out of Kentucky. We can't afford Jim Newberry and Hillary Clinton's ideas."

Newberry said that the task force came up with its results through a series of meetings that collected input from between 1,800 to 2,000 Kentuckians. "I don't know what a Hillary Clinton-like plan is," he said. "I've never met Hillary Clinton."

Farmer's ad also features trick photography, Rabold said, pointing out that it begins with a shot of Newberry standing behind a podium with a picture of Clinton, a heart and the word "Hillary."

The footage of Newberry at the podium was from last month's forum at the University of Kentucky, but the picture of Clinton was not on the podium, Rabold said.

"I guess we should expect this sort of behavior from a candidate who hires models to be 'volunteers' and runs a campaign that is caught red-handed doing political dirty tricks," Rabold said.

Farmer's campaign hired models to work his Fourth of July Parade entry last year. And last month, Brad Shattuck, Farmer's campaign manager, disguised his identity when he called into a radio show to ask a question of Newberry.

Newberry is the desperate candidate, Farmer said. "He's familiar with desperation. I think in the last campaign (for Congress in 1998) he ran sixth."

The TV ad is intended to help voters choose between the candidates, Farmer said. "This is an important time for people to learn as much as they can, as quickly as they can."

The federal government needs to streamline the process for legalized status, Isaac said. Fayette County farmers say they can't run their farms without the Latino work force, she said.

This is cache, read story here