Tuesday, May 22, 2007

What Republicans Need

From Kentucky Progress:

Republicans and Democrats may have their nominees for governor today or maybe we will have to wait until next month for a run-off. Either way, the GOP needs a nominee who can and will actively pull people together. The GOP needs a nominee who can and will promote conservative values and issues credibly.

The presence of a weak Democratic opponent might make these vital party-building and state-salvaging duties seem superfluous. But shirking now could hurt Kentucky for a long time. The Republican party works best when it is a party of ideas and principles. Pining for larger-than-life personalities like Lincoln or Reagan is satisfying on some level, but the strength of solid values -- and not the power of individual characters -- generates cohesion and enduring success.

Billy Harper is the party's best chance to govern Kentucky the next four years because more than the fresh start most of us agree we need, he offers the best commitment to fiscal responsibility and realistic improvement in education in the whole field.

Every Candidate: Vote For Me

From the Kentucky Post:

Gov. Ernie Fletcher and a big lineup of candidates wanting his job covered lots of ground and shook every hand in reach Monday as their campaigns neared the finish line amid predictions of a low turnout for today's primary election.

Candidates traveled by air and ground to reach as many voters as possible in the last full day of a campaign overshadowed by Fletcher's fight for political survival. The governor faced two challengers, while six Democrats competed for their party's gubernatorial nomination.

Voters had plenty of down-the-ticket choices as they prepared to select nominees for attorney general, state treasurer, secretary of state and agriculture commissioner. Secretary of State Trey Grayson, who oversees Kentucky elections, had predicted 85 percent of Kentucky's registered voters won't bother to go the polls today. His spokesman, Les Fugate, was optimistic Monday that turnout could be slightly higher than earlier forecast, noting an upswing in absentee balloting statewide in the past week. Polls will be open from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. local time.

Scott Lasley, a political scientist at Western Kentucky University, said the campaign had been "surprisingly lackadaisical," considering the drama of a seemingly vulnerable incumbent facing a strong challenge within his party, plus a competitive race among Democrats. Joe Gershtenson, director of the Center for Kentucky History and Politics at Eastern Kentucky University, agreed, saying, "For whatever reason, it just has not seemed to have gotten the public really excited."

Kentuckians won't have the weather as an excuse for not turning out to vote. Forecasters predicted mostly sunny conditions statewide today with highs in the 80s. In the Republican primary, Fletcher's rivals are former U.S. Rep. Anne Northup and Paducah businessman Billy Harper, his finance chairman in the 2003 campaign. The challengers claimed Fletcher was irreparably harmed by his indictment last year on charges that he illegally rewarded political supporters with state jobs. The charges were dismissed in a negotiated agreement with prosecutors.

Fletcher has maintained the special grand jury's investigation was politically motivated. He claims that Attorney General Greg Stumbo, now the running mate of Democratic gubernatorial candidate Bruce Lunsford, pursued the charges for political gain. Fletcher led in a recent statewide poll in The Courier-Journal of Louisville. The governor said it was a reflection that voters are looking past the investigation. "People realize the true mark of leadership is results, and we've gotten outstanding results," Fletcher said Monday between stops during a multi-city fly-around of Kentucky.

Fletcher said he was hopeful of a clear-cut victory without a runoff. Unless someone gets at least 40 percent of the vote, the top two finishers will compete in a June 26 runoff. Northup, who campaigned in heavily Republican areas of rural Kentucky before a rally in Louisville, her hometown, said she would tap into dissatisfaction with Fletcher. "I feel like there's still a lot of people that haven't made up their minds, but they don't want Ernie Fletcher," she said.

Harper, who logged 42,000 miles on his campaign bus in recent months, had stops in GOP-leaning cities in Southern Kentucky before winding up on election eve in Paducah. Harper waged an extensive television campaign that started last year, bankrolling most of his campaign himself.

Meanwhile, the Democratic primary might not produce a nominee but simply narrow the field. Lunsford said a runoff in the Democratic race seemed a likelihood. Still, he said many voters were undecided or not totally committed to a candidate. "I think there's an awful lot of soft support out there," Lunsford said while campaigning in Henderson and Owensboro in Western Kentucky. "That means they can still change their mind late, which could have an impact."

Another Democratic candidate, Steve Beshear, a former lieutenant governor and attorney general, said that avoiding a runoff was "certainly a possibility."

"We're going to end up in the lead and be in the lead substantially tomorrow," said Beshear, who had rallies planned in Louisville, Shelbyville and Lexington on Monday. "I think the only open question is whether we can get to that 40 percent."

The Louisville newspaper's recent poll showed Beshear with a lead. Other Democrats running are House Speaker Jody Richards, former Lt. Gov. Steve Henry, Lexington lawyer Gatewood Galbraith and eastern Kentucky demolition contractor Otis Hensley Jr. Richards continued his focus on Western Kentucky as he spent Monday campaigning in Warren County, his home, and neighboring counties. Henry made more than a half-dozen stops during a campaign swing Monday.

Party Healing Crucial

From the Kentucky Post:

Stung by a critical television ad his opponent ran late in the 2003 Democratic gubernatorial primary, Bruce Lunsford didn't just drop out of the race in protest - he also crossed party lines to support the then-Republican nominee Ernie Fletcher in the fall election. Both Lunsford and Democrats have regretted that decision ever since.

Fletcher, of course, went on to earn an easy win over Ben Chandler that put the Republicans in the Governor's Mansion for the first time in three decades. And Lunsford - again trying to become the Democratic nominee for governor - has struggled to win back party loyalists who say he betrayed them. It was a good lesson in how the party has to get behind the nominee, said Lunsford's press secretary Adam Bozzi, who calls the candidate tougher, wiser and more prepared for the harshness of politics. "He's not going to make that same mistake twice," Bozzi said.

As voters head to the polls today to select the major party nominees for the November governor's race, the specter of the 2003 race looms as a shadow over party activists smarting from a competitive primary. Regardless of the outcome of today's election - or of the June 26 runoff, should there be one - leaders of both parties say it's critical, urgent even, that the various candidates and their supporters put aside their differences and unite behind their nominee. Republicans have scheduled a Unity Rally for Saturday at state GOP headquarters and have meetings of both the party's central committee and executive committee, presumably to talk about fall strategy, set for June 2.

Democratic candidates, meanwhile, all signed a pledge committing them to a "Democrats United 2007" theme back in February. "The people of this state are tired of negative campaigning, tired of inter-party bickering," Chairman Jerry Lundergan said about the initiative.

But coming together could prove challenging for several reasons:

On the Republican side, the incumbent Fletcher and his chief opponent, former Louisville Congresswoman Anne Northup, have begun running ads, issuing press releases and making speeches attacking each other with increasing intensity. Other than calling Fletcher "unelectable," the third candidate, Paducah businessman Billy Harper, has tried to stay out of the fray.

Bridging the gap between the Northup and Fletcher camps could prove more difficult because the divisions are thought to be deep - conventional wisdom says that Northup was recruited to the race by U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell, who is not known to be a big fan of the governor.

On the Democrat side, the tenor has been slightly less caustic but almost as divisive simply because of the sheer number of candidates - seven Democrats, each with their own following, were in the race until state Treasurer Jonathan Miller dropped out May 7. Now there are six: former Lt. Gov. Steve Beshear; longtime Speaker of the House Jody Richards; former Lt. Gov. Steve Henry; Lexington attorney Gatewood Galbraith; Eastern Kentucky demolition contractor Otis Hensley and Lunsford.

This year, for the first time in Kentucky political history, the primary result might not determine the November candidates. A relatively new law forces a two-candidate runoff election on June 26 should the top candidate in each party not get 40 percent of the primary vote. A runoff would essentially lengthen the primary season by five weeks and create the possibility of a brutal head-to-head campaign that could widen party divisions. Naturally, leaders from both parties say they will have no problem patching up differences before the fall, but to what extent that's true or a self-fulfilling prophecy is arguable.

On the Republican side, Northup has ripped Fletcher's administration as a scandal-ridden embarrassment and has run from the beginning on the message that she's the better candidate because he's unelectable in the fall. Fletcher has berated her constantly for being "negative" and calls her campaign rife with "hypocrisy."

Northup's strategy is gutsy and risky, said Kevin Sell, GOP chairman of the 4th Congressional District in Northern Kentucky. But a lot of its impact will depend on how it's perceived. If voters and Fletcher supporters take it personally on a gut level, then there could be some problems, he said. Or they could see it as an acceptable primary-type strategy and move on. He personally thinks things have been OK - so far. "Is it aggressive? Absolutely. Does it cross the line? Not necessarily," Sell said.

Fletcher spokesman Marty Ryall dismisses the attacks in the GOP primary so far as "internal squabbling" not unlike what families have. The governor hasn't seen or heard anything that would keep him from reaching out to Northup and Harper should he win or supporting them should he lose. "You don't get very far in politics without have a thick skin," Ryall said. "Sometimes things are said in the primary and sometimes during the general election that you wish they hadn't said those things, but ... you move on."

It helps that in the 2003 election, Fletcher's primary opponent, former Jefferson County Judge-Executive Rebecca Jackson, enthusiastically threw her support to Fletcher for the general election campaing, Sell said, unlike what Lunsford did with Chandler. That has created an expectation of professionalism and class among Republican candidates - "humble in victory and gracious in defeat," Sell said.

And then there's this - Republicans who don't line up behind the nominee can basically write off their political future because they won't get party support, Sell said. Justin Brasell, chief of staff for Northern Kentucky's congressman, Geoff Davis, said fears about party disunity are overblown. Most of the fighting is among a very small group of party activists who represent a tiny percentage of the electorate, he said. Come November, everything will be fine, he said.

Davis, who has made a calculated decision to remain neutral in the primary, will strongly support the nominee no matter who it is, Brasell said. As such, Davis and other GOP members of Kentucky's federal delegation can do much to bring the party back together simply by example, Brasell said. Democrats, not surprisingly, have a different view of the Northup-Fletcher attacks. The Republican primary "is going to leave some scars," said Democrat Paul Patton, who was governor from 1995 to 2003. "It's been pretty rough."

In contrast, the Democrats have been more polite, although not entirely so. Henry recently decided to pull two TV ads that attacked Lunsford's business record and Beshear's record as attorney general, another position he held. And after a recent debate, several candidates attacked Beshear's support for expanded gambling and his use of the state plane while lieutenant governor. But those attacks were "fair," said Lundergan, the state party chairman, because they focused on issues and stances and statements. "I don't think those were personal attacks," he said.

Patton, who is a former party chairman in addition to governor, agreed, saying so far there's not been "anything for anybody to get upset about."

That could change with a runoff, which by its nature could get a little more contentious, Patton said. And he, too, has heard some Democrats say they remain so upset at Lunsford that should he be the nominee, they'll stay home Election Day or vote Republican. But he scoffed at those statements, saying in the end Democrats will be motivated by the mere presence of Fletcher in the governor's seat. "Even if there's a contentious run-off, there won't be 100 Democrats who will be so upset they won't vote or will vote for a Republican," Patton said. "Having been out four years, we'll be anxious to get behind whoever the nominee is."

And that nominee can do much simply by reaching out to the losing candidates and ask for their support. "Sometimes that's all it takes," Patton said.

Elendil’s Journal Questions GOTV

I have never understood all of the fuss about getting people to vote. I understand why political campaigns have a vested interest in GOTV efforts. They want to maximize their chances of winning and that is understandable. But I don't understand the pleas by anyone else to get the general public out to vote.

By the time you leave school you should have a pretty good understanding of the importance of voting in America. If not then our education system has failed. Since I don't think our educational system has collapsed that far, it is safe to say that 99% of Americans understand the right to vote.

But if that still isn't enough to motivate you into exercising that right, then please don't vote! The way I look at it is quite simple. If you can't take a small amount of time out of your day to exercise one of our most important and fundamental rights we have as Americans, then you probably don't know who the candidates are or what issues are being debated. If you don't know either of those then your vote is going to be for all practical purposes random. And if I wanted a random way to select governmental representatives then I would be clamoring for a lottery system instead of elections.

So you are not going to see me hand wringing over the fact that only 15% of the voting public is going to vote today. In fact, I am happy that those who don't care are staying away from the ballot box.

Monday, May 21, 2007

KY Progress: A Generation With Harper

A Washington D.C. pollster called my home via robo-dial Friday night. But guess what? I wasn't there so I missed the call. Like more and more people, the best way to reach me is on my cell phone.

Meanwhile, fewer people are tuning in to broadcast television every day. Doesn't take a rocket scientist to see the internet playing a greater role in this gubernatorial election. And between Ernie Fletcher, Anne Northup, and Billy Harper, only Harper has really used new technology to his advantage. In a 10-15% turnout election, the opportunity for this to create a surprising result can't be ignored.

Kentucky Post: Fletcher Can’t Win

Gov. Ernie Fletcher will survive a political scandal to win Tuesday's Republican gubernatorial primary election, but will be soundly defeated in November's general election by Democrat Steve Beshear, figures Northern Kentucky University political science professor Michael Baranowski.

Beshear, because of a crowded six-person Democratic primary field, won't get the necessary 40 percent of primary votes Tuesday to be the party's candidate, and will be forced into a runoff election against Bruce Lunsford, Baranowski forecasts. Beshear will win the June 26 runoff, Baranowski said, and then have an easy time of it in November against Fletcher. "Fletcher is going to get slaughtered," he said.

No matter what the outcome happens to be, it's a fascinating election year in Kentucky, said Baranowski, with a good old-fashioned scandal prompting two Republicans to challenge a sitting GOP governor and a half-dozen Democrats anxious to oust a politically wounded incumbent. "Kentucky politics is a full employment act for political reporters and political scientists," said Baranowski. "There's nothing like Kentucky politics, especially this year."

Fletcher, stung by a patronage scandal, is being challenged by fellow Republicans Anne Northup of Louisville, who formerly served in Congress and the state legislature, and by Paducah businessman Billy Harper. "I think the fact that Fletcher is facing such a strong challenge in the first place is an indication of general dissatisfaction in the Republican Party," said Baranowski. "That is something that has been said by the media, but also most clearly by (Republican U.S.) Sen. Jim Bunning and, to a lesser extent, by (Republican U.S.) Sen. Mitch McConnell."

As for how voters will react to the scandal Tuesday, Baranowski figures that depends in large part on where they live. "In Northern Kentucky, Fletcher is going to rack up some pretty good margins," he said. "There's a sense that Fletcher has been very good for Northern Kentucky."

Baranowski expects Fletcher to be weakest in Northup's hometown of Louisville. But, he doesn't see Northup pushing Fletcher aside. "I expect Fletcher to win, and I don't think a runoff will be necessary on the Republican side," he said. "I think Northup ran sort of a disappointing campaign.

"She ran a very anti-Fletcher campaign, and I think that's how most people identify her. She framed herself as the alternative and that's not a very strong platform. Some negative campaigning can certainly work, but if a campaign is fundamentally negative, voters ask why they should vote 'for' that candidate."

Northup isn't helped by the presence of another alternative candidate - Harper - - in the race, Baranowski said. "Harper is going to pull more votes away from Northup than from Fletcher," he said. "I think Harper is going to hurt Northup."

While Fletcher has been tainted by the patronage scandal, he's been able to partially offset it, at least in his own party, said Baranowski. "Fletcher has a natural advantage in that it's good to be the governor, especially in Kentucky," he said. "The governor is a powerful guy. He is the person handing out the big checks."

While Fletcher's incumbency may be enough to help him survive in his party's primary, it won't be enough to offset the scandal in the November general election, when Democratic voters will eagerly capitalize on it, figures Baranowski.

But, he doesn't expect a clear-cut Democratic candidate in Tuesday's primary. "Beshear is the leading candidate, but I don't think he's anywhere close to getting 40 percent. If there were only two or three candidates, I could see him getting over 40 percent, but not in a six-person field. My guess is that Beshear's runoff opponent will be Lunsford. His polling numbers have held up pretty well for a while."

Beshear, a former lieutenant governor, should beat Lunsford in a runoff because of Beshear's positive image in Democratic circles and because of Lunsford's support of Fletcher in the 2003 election, said Baranowski.

Conservative Edge Praises Kentucky Bloggers

“It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, and spends himself in a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows in the end the triumph of high achievement; and who, at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.”- Theodore Roosevelt

As the dust settles on the first truly divided Republican primary for Governor in quite some time, we have time to reflect on the burgeoning new conservative media. From the conservative writers who strongly supported former Congresswoman Anne Northup to others like myself who strongly supported Governor Fletcher, to the Harper supporters and even the agnostics, an interesting questions arises. Did we count or were we merely critics? An argument could be made that we were merely critics in this great political spectacle. None of Kentucky’s conservative writers actually ran for office. All of us were on the sidelines, so to speak.

But I think the stronger argument is that we were in the arena. All three sides fought for their candidate. All who took positions have come through marred by dust and sweat and blood. All strove valiantly, and all erred and came up short from time to time. But each spent him or herself in a worthy cause. And tomorrow, some will have failed daring greatness. But our place will not be with those cold timid souls, who never knew victory nor defeat.

I want to commend each of the conservative writers who fought for their worthy cause. I have the utmost respect for those who stand up to be counted. My prayer is that you will continue to fight the good fight, and to never give up. We were worthy of the legacy of Teddy Roosevelt.

OSI Speaks Analyzes Through History

The Republican gubernatorial election has resembling less and less like a "slugfest" or family "squabble" and more and more like a disintegrating political "blitzkrieg". Blitzkrieg, the German war tactic, was used to carpet bomb London during world war 11. The "lightning war" or "flash war" (which is what the word "blitzkrieg" means) attacks by the German Luftwaffe killed over 43,000 civilians and more than a million houses were destroyed or damaged in a span of a couple of months.

In this the Republican primary "blitzkrieg", the opposing political camps have let loose their Luftwaffe, prompting one of them, Billy Harper, to take to the air waves to poke fun at the "squabbling candidates." The end result, I suspect, will be the loss of political lives and fortunes (maybe not homes or property damage as in world war 11), but the aftermath will leave similar results.

Whether the political "blitzkrieg" is warranted or not -- I believe both camps will say it is -- is beside the point, for the Republicans will need the services of Dr. Lee, of the O. J. Simpson trial fame, for a political post postmortem.

Yes, I know. There'll be talk of an anticipated reconciliation come Wednesday, but I suspect any illusions of a Republican Unity Rally on Saturday may prompt a response like thus: Forget about it already! This one will hurt for a while.

Bill Bryant Discusses Voter Participation

The gubernatorial campaigns are trying to get a handle on how much and who will turn out Tuesday. It isn’t easy to figure… but it can make all the difference. On the Republican side…. Governor Fletcher’s forces are hoping for better than expected turnout in Southeastern Kentucky … in the so-called old 5th Congressional district. It’s an area where several top administration officials are from. And it’s an area where former candidate and Fletcher supporter Larry Forgy still has influence. As you move slightly west, you come to Anne Northup’s running mate’s home area. Jeff Hoover is playing to home card in the Somerset, Albany, Russell Springs area.

Obviously, Northup hopes for a strong GOP turnout in her home area of Louisville. She’s represented the area in Frankfort or Washington for twenty years and expects to do well in the state’s largest city.

Neither campaign knows what to make of Northern Kentucky. The region is rich with Republicans… but turnout there is often very weak. Secretary of State Trey Grayson says many in the area haven’t seen the TV ads that have run in the race. Many in Boone, Kenton and Campbell Counties get their primary TV from Cincinnati which is out of reach financially for most of the campaigns.

Billy Harper is trying to get to as many places as possible to potray himself as the “conservative businessman” while the politicians squabble. Harper is hoping that some turned off voters will, in the end, choose him as alternative.

On the Democratic side… It’s an aggressive ground and on-air war right now. Percieved frontrunner Steve Beshear is criss-crossing the state and trying to make decisions about “going for broke” with money in the primary or holding back some resources for a potential runoff election. As if to underscore that, Beshear spent some time in his Frankfort offices doing business (translation: fundraising?) on Monday and was visiting lunch crowds and making some other stops.

Bruce Lunsford’s mixing backslapping with an aggressive air schedule. Volunteers and paid staffers have been walking neighborhoods dropping off copies of his “blueprint for change.” Running mate Greg Stumbo is in his native Eastern Kentucky, making calls and personal visits.

Steve Henry, who’s always a strong closer in elections is on the move with several stops. Henry hopes to get particular strength out of Jefferson County which is his current home and Daviess County where he grew up. His wife, Heather, is from the Maysville area and his running mate is an elected official in Fayette County.

Jody Richards hopes for a stronger than expected turnout and a strong showing in Western Kentucky. He has represented Bowling Green in Frankfort since 1976 and is appealing to others that no governor has come from the region since Julian Carroll in the 70s. His running mate, John Y. Brown III worked Eastern Kentucky over the weekend. Gatewood Galbraith is making calls and contacting supporters… as is Otis “Bullman” Hensley.

Alessi Fixes Primary… the 2011 Primary

From the Lexington Herald-Leader:

At times this spring, the primary races for governor have seemed less like exercises in democracy and more like a science experiment. It took an unusually long time to find all the ingredients to get it started. Once all the candidates were in the race, it fizzed and bubbled over. And at times, it seemed to smell funny.

On Tuesday, Kentucky will know the results of that experiment -- whether Republicans decide to give Gov. Ernie Fletcher a shot at a second term and whether the Democrats will have a nominee or have to pick between the top two finishers in a runoff.

As with any good scientific trial, Kentucky is likely to get more out of this spring's primary campaigns than just the candidates who will face off in the fall's general election. State officials have learned some broader lessons about the election system and changes that need to be made. Here's a rundown of the "to-do" list before the next governor's race in 2011:

• Eliminate the runoff. Lawmakers in both chambers and of both parties all agreed that the provision wasn't supposed to be left in the law.

Many legislators erroneously thought they had tossed out the runoff -- which kicks in if no candidate in a primary gets at least 40 percent of the vote -- when they eliminated many of the election reforms of 1992 that created public financing of the governor's race.

And by the time many realized it still existed at the start of the 2007 session, they argued about whether it was fair to this year's candidates to get rid of it. So, in the end, it remained. But most legislators say they'll kill the runoff next year.

• Increase campaign fund disclosure.

Because of another oversight in the way lawmakers undid the 1992 public financing of elections, candidates had to report what they'd raised and spent only twice in 2007 before the election: April 20 and May 7.

Six of the 10 candidates for governor (Democrat Jonathan Miller, who dropped out, remains on the ballot) didn't enter the race until after Jan. 1. That means the first time voters got a glimpse of their fund-raising levels and supporters was the month before the election. State Sen. Damon Thayer, a Georgetown Republican who chairs the chamber's state government committee, has said he favors more frequent disclosure.

Thayer, Secretary of State Trey Grayson and House state government committee chairman Rep. Mike Cherry, D-Princeton, also have called for mandatory electronic filing of those reports to the Registry of Election Finance. That would allow for the public to have almost instant access to the candidates' reports. This time, however, four Democratic candidates for governor, who collected several million dollars from donors, did not file electronically.

• Set guidelines for incumbents to reimburse taxpayers for political trips.

Gov. Ernie Fletcher -- Kentucky's first incumbent who has faced a strong re-election challenge -- attended political fund-raisers and events while on official trips funded by tax money. After the Herald-Leader reported that, Fletcher's campaign agreed to voluntarily repay some of the costs. Several lawmakers, including Cherry, said the legislature should look at requiring incumbents to do so.

• Address whether potential candidates can explore running for governor.

Democrat Steve Henry, for instance, started talking about running for governor last summer. But he wasn't able to pick a running mate in order to officially file to run for governor and start collecting and spending donations until January.

Now, he's under investigation for using an off-the-books federal account last year to lay the groundwork for a run for governor, which isn't allowed by current law. Grayson noted that a task force studying election reforms in 2005 recommended allowing prospective candidates to raise and spend money to test a possible run. "Maybe we should have exploratory committees," he said, adding that candidates could jump in the race sooner and would have more time to campaign.

• Debate disclosure of other funds benefiting an incumbent, such as a legal defense account.

Fletcher and his supporters set up a fund in January in which donors could give unlimited amounts of money to help the governor pay his legal bills related to the investigation into the administration's hiring policies. A grand jury indicted Fletcher as part of that inquiry.

Donors to the legal defense fund won't be revealed to the Executive Branch Ethics Commission until next year. Government watchdogs and Fletcher's critics have questioned whether donors to that fund, which was revealed in February by newspapers, have received special treatment, such as snaring contracts or tax breaks. "If there are people contributing, then everyone ought to be able to see it," Billy Harper, one of two GOP challengers to Fletcher, said during a debate.

"We need to be totally open for the public," he said.
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