Kentucky lawmaker who ran for governor faces assault charge

A Republican lawmaker who ran for Kentucky governor last year was arrested Tuesday after a woman accused him of choking her with an ethernet cable and trying to “hog tie” her during a domestic dispute.

State Rep. Robert Goforth was arrested by the Laurel County sheriff’s office on charges of strangulation, fourth-degree assault and terroristic threatening, Sheriff John Root said.

Goforth, 44, was released after posting bond pending an initial court hearing set for Wednesday. No attorney was listed for him on the jail’s website.

Goforth was arrested early Tuesday after a woman told authorities that he assaulted her while three small children were in the home, Root said. The woman had “visible marks” on her forehead, neck and arms, and bruises on her leg when she went to the 911 Dispatch Center in London, Kentucky, to file her report, the sheriff said.

The woman said she fled after Goforth made several attempts to “hog tie her,” according to the citation. Goforth allegedly strangled her with an ethernet cable to the point where she said she had difficulty breathing and thought she was going to pass out, the citation said.

Goforth also said he was going to kill her, she told authorities. She said she escaped after promising to unlock her phone, which sparked the altercation, the citation said.

Deputies sent to the residence found the children safe, the sheriff said.

The state Democratic Party promptly called on Goforth to resign. Republican House Speaker David Osborne said he would “reserve comment” because he didn’t know the facts related to the case, but he said his caucus “unequivocally denounces any form of domestic violence and has zero tolerance for it or its perpetrators.”

Goforth was a relative newcomer to the legislature when he decided to challenge then-Gov. Matt Bevin in an aggressive GOP primary campaign. He won nearly 40% of the vote, exposing Bevin’s political weakness despite the governor’s backing from President Donald Trump. Bevin never fully recovered from the lackluster showing, and he lost a close election to Democrat Andy Beshear last November.

Goforth represents a rural section of eastern Kentucky. He dropped out of high school to help support his family, then earned his GED, served in the Army and went on to college. He became a pharmacist and opened a small chain of pharmacies.