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.

Dying For Attention

Obviously, addicts warrant treatment. However, this is disturbing. Methadone overdoses accounting for forty-one percent? The aforesaid must be reversed. Kentucky could assume the forefront. We could pioneer new therapies. However, we have Governor Fletcher. These facts scream investigation. Minamally, they crave sympathy. However, Ernie Fletcher notices only votes.

From the Lexington Herald-Leader:

Methadone is the top cause of deadly overdoses reviewed by the state, prompting health officials to warn of the drug's dangers and to encourage medical workers to look out for abuse symptoms, according to information released Monday by the Office of Drug Control Policy.

The prescription drug was detected in 41 percent of the 484 overdose deaths in Kentucky in 2006, the latest statistics available, according to a written statement from the drug police office. The statistics are cited in the state medical examiner's annual report, which noted 197 deaths attributed to methadone in cases autopsied by the state medical examiner's office. Methadone overdose deaths are increasing. In 2005, the drug was detected in 39 percent of overdose deaths reviewed by the state medical examiner’s office. The total number of cases – 484 – was the same as in 2006.

"Prescription drug overdoses in general, and methadone overdoses in particular, claim a large number of lives each year in the commonwealth. These tragic deaths of Kentuckians are unnecessary and preventable," Dr. Tracey Corey, the chief medical examiner, said in the written news release. "Regional and local medical societies and health departments may help reduce this tragic loss of life by making patients and physicians aware of the possibility of accidental fatal overdose associated with the use of prescription narcotics, especially when used in concert with other prescription drugs."

The deaths are occurring even though the number of methadone prescriptions or typical doses did not greatly change from 2003 to 2006. Nationally, methadone-related deaths climbed from about 780 in 1999 to more than 3,800 in 2004, according to a national study cited by Kentucky authorities.

Drug policy office executive director Laurie Dudgeon warned about the misuse of methadone and urged emergency workers and hospital workers to educate themselves on the symptoms and effects of methadone misuse. The office plans to hold seminars to educate the public and health-care workers. "The seriousness of methadone overdose and its possible consequences cannot be overemphasized," Dudgeon said in the written statement.

Methadone is used to treat pain and addiction to narcotics or opiates.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Conservative Musings Leans Harper

Well, I have to say that I am now leaning a little towards Harper in the Kentucky governor's race, but that is not a certainty. I have to admit I haven't been following the governor's race very closely. I knew I didn't want Fletcher because of his ethical baggage. Harper was reputed to be conservative but was little known. So, I just kind of assumed I would vote for Northup. She did a decent job as my representative to the U.S. Congress, although I thought she voted for too much pork.

Then came the odd thing about the campaign signs and the questions that she didn't answer from the Courier-Journal. I began to get concerned about her. And then when she finally did answer the questions, some of her responses made me wonder about her leadership ability.

Her gambling responses were tepid. "...the governor has no control over constitutional amendments," she wrote. Come on, Anne, lead! If you really do oppose gambling, say you will work to prevent the passage of such an amendment! She did a better job on some of the other questions, especially in education. I think she should have left off the potshots against Fletcher, though, and been more positive in her responses.

I like many of Harper's positions and he articulates them well. It's a shame he is not very well known, I think he would do a better job as governor than either Fletcher or Northup or any Democrat currently running. If I vote for him, though, I may as well vote for Fletcher. Sigh.

Bill Bryant’s Political Truisms

*Nobody really knows who is going to win. The voting machines are all set on zero… If not we have a big problem!

*Most people won’t vote. Campaigns are pulling hair trying to figure out a turnout model. The Secretary of State predicts about a 15% turnout. That would mean more than 8 out of 10 registered voters will do something else besides vote on Tuesday. (How many will tell their employers that they need time to vote and will end up elsewhere?)

*Most officials want this settled on Tuesday. Counties are ill prepared financially and from a manpower standpoint for a June 26th runoff. County Clerks have sweet dreams at night about both parties having a nominee with more than 40% of the vote…. And they have nightmares about the logistics of a runoff.

*Some voters are STILL undecided and many of them WILL vote. It seems in my nearly 30 years of covering elections that those who decide this late often break toward percieved favorites. BUT any last minute developments could also sway votes.

*Political Stars will rise from Tuesday’s vote. There will be some candidates nominated who are playing on the statewide stage for the first time and some may be around for many years to come.

*Candidates are anxious. I’ve seen even seasoned political candidates begin to wonder if even their spouse or mother will vote for them as the time approaches.

*Some don’t expect to win. Most candidates say they do anyway and will go through the motions to the bitter end. But we’ve found humor in at least one candidate’s response to a request for his picture to be used in our Election Night coverage. He told our producer “Why do you want a picture of me? I’m not going to win.” That’s candor if not confidence.

With Democrats Like These…

Governor Fletcher cannot defeat the Democrats? Governor Fletcher is cuddling the Democrats.

From On the Mark:

They haven't endorsed the republican governor's reelection campaign but Sen. Ed Worley (D) Richmond and Rep. Harry Moberly (D) Richmond, both spoke at a Fletcher/Rudolph campaign rally in Madison County on Thursday. Worley is the democratic party's leader in the state senate, Moberly is the powerful chairman of the Appropriations and Revenue committee in the state house of representatives.

On the Right Begging For Votes

Kentucky Republicans have an opportunity next Tuesday to start the process of restoring ethics and integrity to the office of Governor and Lt. Governor by voting for the Northup/Hoover ticket! Both candidates have the political and practical life experience needed to move our Beloved Commonwealth forward!

Kentucky Republicans must ensure that our party's standard bearer can be elected this November. The Democrats would love nothing better than to spend June through election day dragging the current Governor's problems through all 120 counties.

As Anne Northup said in her announcement: "Our party needs a nominee who can and will win in November. I can win this election because I have the vision, the leadership ability, and the resolve to help make this state all that it can be. To make it competitive with our surrounding states. To grow the economy, improve our education, and create good paying jobs. To make Kentucky a great place to raise a family — a place that those in other states will seek out to live and work. I have such enthusiasm for the task at hand. Our states potential is so great, but lacking strong leadership, it will always remain unrealized."

" Jeff Hoover and I are committed to the belief that strong leaders do not isolate themselves, refusing to listen to new ideas, refusing to build coalitions and consensus. Strong leaders seek out new ideas, and look to involve as many people as possible in the pursuit of a shared vision. Strong leaders have the ability and confidence to admit mistakes, and to take immediate corrective action. Jeff Hoover and I will listen. Jeff Hoover and I can build the coalitions that will get things done for Kentucky. And Jeff Hoover and I will bring the openness and honesty to state government that Kentuckians were promised four years ago."

Governor Fletcher's approval ratings are so low among Republicans and Democrats that he stands no chance of winning in November. If Ernie Fletcher thinks Anne is a bully and is a negative campaigner "he ain't seen nothing yet"!

The Democratic nominee will run continuous TV and radio ads about the merit hiring investigation, the multiple indictments ( including the Governor), the abuse of the executive pardoning power and the Governor's invoking of the 5th Amendment,like a common criminal, and his refusal to testify before the Grand Jury!

Give our party and the Commonwealth a real chance to win in November by voting for Northup/Hoover! I am very proud to be a Northup/Hoover supporter and to endorse their candidacy.

Fletcher Not Learning From Northup

Campbell County Judge-executive Steve Pendery, a Fort Thomas Republican, is making automated phone calls to voters on behalf of GOP gubernatorial candidate Ernie Fletcher. Here is a transcript taken by one of our reporters who received the call.

Hello, this is Campbell County Judge-executive Steve Pendery calling to remind you that this Tuesday is Election Day. Please join me in voting for Governor Ernie Fletcher in the Republican primary. Governor Fletcher has kept his promises to Campbell County and to Northern Kentucky by investing more than $1 billion in our area. One billion dollars for education and improving our roads. He has improved health care and created thousands of new jobs. Please join me in voting for Governor Fletcher on Tuesday. This call is paid for by the Friends of Governor Fletcher.

The Blue Grass, Red State Corkscrew

Politics requires spin. Discrediting messengers is essential. However, this is ridiculous….

Kentuckians overwhelmingly passed a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, but in 2004 Bob Barr spoke out against such amendments.

NEWSWEEK: You authored the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, but you’ve come out against an amendment to the constitution banning same-sex marriage. Why is that?

Bob Barr: Because I believe very strongly in federalism and that is that the federal government should not be stepping in and dictating social policy to the states. The Defense of Marriage Act was crafted very narrowly. Despite very strong pressure to make it a proactive piece of legislation, I crafted it very narrowly simply to define marriage for federal-law purposes and to make sure that states were protected to make up their own mind. And I continue to believe that that is the best policy.

Also, the Lou C-J's editorial on "Fletcher's odd bedfellow" Bob Barr was right on. In the piece, Barr was quoted as saying, "I could no longer justify in my mind continuing to work in the Republican Party."

By working for Ernie Fletcher, Bob Barr is definitely working against the Republican Party!

The editorial stated in part:

Why is Bob Barr suddenly in the middle of Kentucky's Republican gubernatorial politics? We thought Georgia Republicans had gotten rid of him in 2002, when they chose a different congressional candidate in their primary.

But now Mr. Barr has turned up here, in so-called "Robo calls" to rural Republicans, paid for by Ernie Fletcher's campaign. Mr. Barr and Dr. Fletcher want you to know that former Congresswoman Anne Northup once voted against school prayer. They are not mentioning the many times she voted for it.

But more interesting than yet another distortion during campaign season is this: Why would Gov. Fletcher choose Mr. Barr to speak for him?

Good question, C-J.

He also lobbies for the Marijuana Policy Project, which works toward another Libertarian goal: "Repeal all laws establishing criminal or civil penalties for the use of drugs."

Well, some of those things sound okay to proud, card-carrying liberals like us. But of all the people in the world, is this the guy Gov. Fletcher really wants as a front man?

Neither Ernie Fletcher nor Bob Barr represent mainstream Kentucky.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Conservative Edge Compliments Billy Harper

Billy Harper heads into the final week of the campaign with a clever ad, that takes advantage of the political back and forth between GOvernor Fletcher and Anne Northup. The commercials begins with a boy and a girl standing by a chain link fence. The camera angles and lighting are similar to the Fletcher campaign's "playground bullies" commercial. As the ad progresses, the two children begin a childish argument, and finish with a "slap fight".

Then, Bily Harper appears with his message of unity and hope. He touts his ability to unite the Republicans, beat the Democrats and better Kentucky. It is by far his best commercial of his campaign.

Cyber Hillbilly Bemoans Republican Climate

To paraphrase Tom Paine, These are the days that try Republicans’ souls. In Kentucky, this is doubly true. Republicans still bear the scars of a tough and brutal 2006 mid-term election that saw Republicans lose most of the impressive power they derived from their standard bearers being in the Congressional majority. Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell, Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Hal Rogers, Congresswoman Anne Northup… never happened… not any more.

On the state level Kentucky Republicans are engaged in the most brutal primary contest that many have ever seen. Their Governor, the man they fought for so happily not four years ago, has been mired in political troubles and faces near record low unpopularity. A mere 36% of Kentucky voters approve of the job of the current administration and most Republicans give every indication of preferring another candidate. In just a few days… a few weeks at the outside, Kentucky Republicans will choose—perhaps be saddled with—a nominee.

Regardless of who wins the GOP nomination, the party’s in deep trouble. For decades Kentucky Republicans attempted to overcome the fact that Democrats were more popular in local elections by concentrating on their strengths as anti-establishment outsiders secure in the knowledge that the national GOP brand would pull them over the hump. That worked twice in the past 50 years: 1967 and 2003. Now, thanks to a war that presents only terrible choices, and the fact that Americans now realize that power corrupts Republicans as absolutely as it corrupted Democrats, that once strong national brand is likely an albatross in a state where Democrats still outnumber Republicans nearly two to one.

If the nominee is Anne Northup, the former Congresswoman must simultaneously bridge the urban-rural divide, introduce herself to the majority of Kentucky voters, and heal relations with those supporters of Governor Fletcher who aren’t dependent on state patronage and therefore don’t care if she wins or loses. In my mind, she faces an easier challenge than the other candidates. She’s well known and obviously loved by nearly 49% of all voters in the 3rd Congressional District, that vaunted Republican killer that put to rest any hopes of Governor Forgy. She’ll be able to raise money from those who currently fear to give to an opponent of the sitting Governor, regardless of how unpopular that Governor may be; and her record of compassionate conservativism will probably play well with the majority of Democratic voters who have faith, both in the state's ability to ease their burdens and, more importantly, in God. But make no mistake about it, Anne Northup, like the other GOP candidates, will be the underdog in November.

If Billy Harper somehow manages to pull off a miracle and put his millions to good use in such a way that wins him the nomination, he’ll be the most unknown candidate to win the GOP nomination since Bob Gable made his Quixotic bid against Jullian Carroll in 1975. Harpers' millions would buy him plenty of advertising. And it’s just possible that an outsider would gain traction. But his lack of electoral charisma and political base make him the longest of the GOP longshots.

But what of Ernie Fletcher? We fought so hard for you, Governor, back in 2003. We believed you when you said you could clean up the mess in Frankfort. We shared in your victory celebration triumph at the Marriott-Griffin Gate and laughed heartily at the joke “if he can only find a good speechwriter.” Four years later, the majority of Republicans are so disappointed that they prefer another candidate. While Republicans have a laundry list of complaints, most boil down to one thing: Republicans want a winner who’ll advance the conservative cause—if they don’t feel you’re such, they ain’t for you. If the Governor wins the nomination, the party will be deeply divided. Most of those who supported Northup had nothing to lose. They were either outsiders or so comfortably ensconced in the GOP establishment that they had nothing to fear.

Will Ernie Fletcher have the magnanimity to both forgive those who fought against him, and simultaneously motivate those who weren’t for him? Can he reign in those young braves who’ll have won him his primary and who’ll be hell bent on taking Northup scalps? That’s a tough political act. But until Ernie Fletcher pulls his base behind him, he can’t begin to take on the really tough part of this year’s campaign: beating Steve Beshear, the likely Democratic nominee.

Beshear’s not the best candidate the Democrats could have run. But he’s the best candidate in the current mix of Democratic contenders. And the presence of Dan Mongiardo will keep Eastern Kentucky solidly in the Democratic camp and may create opportunities in the eastern half of the old fifth. Beshear will have the wind at his back. And the only way the Governor can beat him is by running such a negative campaign that the voters decide to overlook Republicans’ woes and vote for what they’ll be told, indirectly of course, is the lesser of two evils.

Whether Kentucky Republicans can pull off another victory is very much in doubt. But they’ll have to try. Too much is riding on this election. Beshear and Mongiardo might not be content to stay in Frankfort forever. Jack Conway will be waiting in the wings—one Louisville Republican has already indicated that the man has the ambition and quite possibly the talent to be President of the United States. Trey Grayson, the GOP's wunderkind... a man who openly bucked the Governor only to be rewarded by Larry "the Fletcher Hatchetman" Forgy's prediction that he'll someday be Governor... his fate may be tied to how well the GOP’s gubernatorial nominee does. And if Dems sweep this year, they’ll have Kentucky’s Senior Senator in their crosshairs in 08 and Bunning in 2010.

Yes, these are trying times for Republicans. To paraphrase Thomas Paine again: “The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their party; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of every conservative.”

Easy for Paine to say; he had George Washington to rally the troops.

Northup’s Silent Campaign

Imagine… campaigning, courting voters, and rallying support… sans publicity. One would assume the drawbacks were obvious. Another mistake, courtesy Anne Northup’s campaign of errors.

From the Conservative Edge:

The Conservative Edge has been receiving e-mails from the Fletcher campaign with Governor Fletcher's daily schedule. Other sites have received thos e-mails, and have also published the schedule for Billy Harper. As of this morning, I was unaware of Northup's travels and had assumed based on commments from her supporters, that she was in Louisville concentrating on that vote.

This morning I learned that Northup was on the campaing trail in Corbin, Kentucky yesterday. A Herald-Leader reporter caught up to her for a story regarding the "robo-calls".

It is good to know that Northup is out meeting with Kentucky's citizens. If she is the Republican nominee for Governor, she will have to connect with the rural folks, if she is to have a chance in the general election.

We'd note that better press relations with Kentucky's new conservative media would help out the Northup campaign. Whether one likes it or not, the 15 or so conservative new media writers in Kentucky are having an impact on the campaign. Barry Peel will have to do a better job in the fall if Northup is the nominee. There is simply no reason why Northup friendly conservative sites should not have gotten a press release with Northup's campaign schedule and her apology for Tuesday's phone problem.

KY Pachyderm 2 Mocks Northup’s Excitement

We've already heard advertisements touting Anne Northup's endorsement by the Herald-Leader and Courier-Journal. Those endorsements came as no surprise. Those papers didn't endorse Fletcher in 2003. But are they really anything to brag about? Both newspapers have a leftist editorial philosophy, a secular humanist outlook bordering on socialistic.

The Herald-Leader is even so kind to tell us each year why that newspaper endorses candidates. We like this line: "The board selects, by consensus or vote, which candidates more closely share its visionf or this community, state and nation."

That means that the Herald-Leader endorses the most liberal candidates. Do conservative Republican voters in this state REALLY want to vote for the candidate the Herald-Leader touts as basically the most liberal? We didn't think so.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

KY Kurmudgeon Compliments Billy Harper

Billy Harper's latest campaign ad, which opens and closes with a spoof of incumbent Gov. Ernie Fletcher's bully-themed ads, is the most creative spot I've seen in this gubernatorial race. The silhouetted little boy in glasses and little girl in pigtails doing the "Did not," "Did too" routine in the opening and shaking the chain-link fence that separates them in the closing effectively gets across Harper's point about "two squabbling politicians (Fletcher and former U.S. Rep. Anne Northup) and a businessman named Billy Harper." And it makes that distinction with a light touch.

Unfortunately for Harper, the latest independent poll results suggest it may be a case of too little, too late. Harper disputes that, however. Previewing the ad for media grunts aboard his bus outside the state Capitol today, Harper said his own polling shows him "coming up rapidly" in the last week. He also expressed the opinion that a runoff in the Republican primary is "highly likely." I put that comment in the "wishful thinking" category.

Is a Republican runoff possible? Yes. Given the way Fletcher and Northup are slicing and dicing each other in attack ads, it is possible they will drive enough disgusted Republicans into the Harper camp to deny either of them the 40 percent of the vote needed to avoid a runoff. And Harper's new ad is an attempt to capitalize on that possibility. But "highly likely"? No. I still consider a Republican runoff to be an extreme long shot.

But, hey, if the Kentucky Derby has taught us anything over the years, it's that you can't overlook long shots. However, even if the long shot occurs and no candidate gets 40 percent of the Republican primary vote, I still don't see any way Harper can avoid being the candidate left out of ensuing runoff. In a way, that's too bad, because the barrage of negative ads we could expect from a Fletcher-Northup runoff almost surely would be devoid of the kind of lighthearted creativity evident in Harper's new ad.

Harper, Fletcher Release Final Ads

From the Lexington Herald-Leader:

Billy Harper's campaign for governor has a new TV ad that lampoons his opponents for "squabbling," and says he is the only Republican who can defeat the Democrats in November's general election. Harper, a Paducah businessman, showed the ad to reporters today on his campaign bus. "When we started our campaign, we promised you we would run a positive campaign, and we have kept that promise," Harper said.

But Harper said his opponents in the May 22 GOP primary election -- Gov. Ernie Fletcher and former U.S. Rep. Anne Northup -- "have not kept the same standards and it has gotten a little negative in their behavior."

Harper's 30-second ad titled "Did Not" is to run statewide through Monday. It shows a young boy with glasses and a young girl with pigtails arguing by shouting at each other, saying, "Did not" and "Did, too."

It encourages voters to take a look at Harper and describes him as "a conservative businessman, a leader in education reform" and the only candidate to promise no new taxes.

It adds that he is the only Republican who can unite the party and defeat the Democrats.
Harper said he does not plan to run any other new ads unless he is personally attacked. He also declined to say if he has put more of his own money into the race or say how much of his own money he has contributed to his campaign. Though polls show Harper trailing Fletcher and Northup in the race, he said he will not drop out. In fact, he said, he has "a great chance" of winning the race. "I don't feel I'm a spoiler in any way," he said.

Harper also said he does not yet know if he will support whoever is the Republican nominee for governor and did not know if he will attend an event May 26 at the state GOP headquarters in Frankfort at the invitation of Kentucky's GOP congressional delegation to rally behind the party nominee. "I'm scheduled to be out of the country that Saturday," he said.

Fletcher's campaign manager, Marty Ryall, said he disagrees with Harper's assertion that he is the only candidate who can unite Republicans in the fall. "We're confident that Republicans will unite around Gov. Fletcher after Tuesday," Ryall said.

He said Harper's ad takes a predictable approach. "He still has a lot of ground to make up and we're comfortable with where we're at," he said.

Fletcher also released his final TV ad of the campaign, an upbeat 30-second spot that features a direct appeal to voters from Fletcher.

KY Progress Laments Squabbling

Got this message on my phone last night: Hello, I'm calling on behalf Anne Northup's campaign for governor. Ernie Fletcher's campaign is desperate and desperate candidates do desperate things. He has attacked Anne Northup's faith and now he is attacking Anne Northup's record on guns...

Seriously, isn't it time we got to the issues and beyond the nonsense? It seems to me the best way for us to have a fall campaign about differences on policy that really affect our state is to nominate Billy Harper.

Prime Evil Mud Slinging

I do not support Governor Fletcher. With that stated, his drinking is not relevant. His personal life is not relevant.

From Blue Grass, Red State:

As Governor, Ernie Fletcher has certainly enjoyed his fair share of alcoholic beverages. The Fletcher campaign says that "you can be a religious person and have an occasional alcoholic drink." Well, sort of.

Ryal Alessi caught up with Pastor David Carr, who runs the King of Kings Radio Network Inc. in Somerset, Glasgow and Cookeville, Tenn. Mr. Carr, a "religious person," said that "Any time you drink alcohol or you have parties with alcohol, for religious people, it's a negative."

For me, this raises what may be a more important question. Has Ernie Fletcher changed since back when he was a lay minister at Lexington Primitive Baptist Church? Many churches that I know of require the church leadership to abstain from alcohol completely to set a good example for the church body and the community, and to avoid giving the wrong impression to people who may not be familiar with the person, the church, or Christianity in general. I'm sure Lex PBC is no different. In his candidate profile from the Lex H-L on 4/23, Ernie Fletcher says he left the Lex PBC in 1994 after his faith became "a little more progressive."

Did Ernie Fletcher enjoy an occasional alcoholic drink while he was a lay minister? That would have almost certainly been a violation of church rules, although I haven't consulted the church. And what did he mean by "a little more progressive?" His faith has changed? Also, how often does Ernie Fletcher consider "occasional" when he's in Frankfort?

A Campaign For All Hours

From the Lexington Herald-Leader:

The campaign of Republican candidate for governor Anne Northup apologized this morning for disturbing Kentucky Republicans with late-night automated phone calls Tuesday night. "It was a computer glitch by our vendor," said campaign spokesman Barry Peel. "We are profoundly sorry for any and every inconvenience."

Republicans across the state reported receiving multiple calls from Northup's campaign last night, many after 10 p.m. Peel did not know exactly how many people received the erroneous calls, but confirmed that the call went out statewide. "They have absolutely harassed me to death," said Barbara Bennett of Mt. Vernon, who reported receiving four calls from Northup on Tuesday, the last at 10 p.m. "I was putting my grandchildren to bed. I've already called them this morning and gave them a piece of my mind."

Both Northup and Gov. Ernie Fletcher have used multiple automated phone calls in recent days to attack each other on the issues of school prayer and the right to bear arms. "I'm a Republican and I will be voting Democratic this year," Bennett said. "The calls have just pushed me right over the limit."

Peel said he wasn't sure whether the campaign would continue using automated phone calls.

It was a computer glitch? Barry, craftsmen do not blame their tools. Your strategy was stupid. Robo calls do not even qualify as campaigning. They are immature, unimaginative, and pedestrian.

This “glitch” was another Anne Northup mistake. Her campaign has been a disaster. Now, her campaign is injuring our party. Shame upon you, Anne.

Blue Grass, Red State Abusing Their Delusion

Blue Grass, Red State Calls On Ernie Fletcher To Release Names of Donors To Secret Legal Defense Fund

With less than a week to go before the primary, Ernie Fletcher still has not told the Kentucky Republicans who will decide next Tuesday whether or not to renominate him who has contributed to his secret legal defense fund which pays legal fees stemming from Ernie Fletcher's indictment in the merit hiring scandal.

If Ernie Fletcher continues to keep the names secret, he is putting every Kentucky Republican in a very awkward position in the post-primary season should he win renomination. If Ernie Fletcher doesn't care what we think of him, why the hell should we renominate him? If Ernie Fletcher doesn't think we care about ethics, we have to tell him otherwise!

Fletcher, Wheeler Run Incestuous Campaign

Ernie Fletcher's attack dog Brett Hall has apparently confused himself with his lies. Hall sends out a political tabloid email regularly to Republicans in which he lies about the state of the Governor's race, invariably stating that Ernie Fletcher's campaign is going great and the Northup/Hoover campaign is constantly faltering. Conventional wisdom says Brett Hall wouldn't come back to Kentucky from New Jersey just to run a Treasurer's race, so he must be getting paid by one of Fletcher's slick consultants. Hall had been fired in 2006 for responding to a reporter asking if Fletcher was going to resign by saying, "Fuck no!" although Hall has claimed to be on Ernie Fletcher's payroll since the supposed firing. This morning, Hall confused himself and sent his newsletter from Melinda Wheeler's email address.

Kentucky Progress Lauds Harper

Governor Fletcher's campaign has scored a lot of points going after Anne Northup on school prayer. Today, though, they may have gone too far. A mailer that hit mailboxes this afternoon has a picture of Northup gleefully shovelling dirt next to a bold sentence stating "Anne Northup said an amendment to give our children the right to pray in school was 'Extreme.'"

The ad is effective. At first, I thought it was pretty funny. But while it probably helps wipe out Northup in the primary, it kills Fletcher in the general. Louisville Republicans especially will take this personally and sit on their hands in the fall. The only candidate who can take advantage of the current environment and win in the fall against a certain-to-be weak Democratic nominee is Billy Harper. Watch Harper's ads over the next week. It will be some of the best stuff you have ever seen.

Northup Broke Law?

From Conservative Edge:

At 7:45 A.M. on Thursday, May 10th, 2007, I made a request for a document from the Northup campaign, that would have been a valid request under Kentucky's open records law. The request was made to Northup press secretary Barry Peel, who said he would respond that day.

Now, at the close of business on Tuesday, May 15th, 2007, there has been no response at all from a legitimate member of the Northup campaign. ( Her supporters have certainly responded with contempt and sarcasm, but there has been no official response). Under Kentucky's open records act, all requests must be responded to with 72 hours, excluding hoildays and weekends. Technically, my request would have required a response by this morning, but I gave the Northup camp some extra time.

Responses could have included: We need more time. The document requested does not exist. There is an exception to the law that allows us to refuse the reuest. Your request must be in writing. We don't have the document, you can contact the facility that does. Or, finally: Here is your document.

The document in question would not likely have fallen under any open records exception, since it would have been prepared by a governmental agency regarding an ethics situation. Roll Call magazine had requested Northup obtain a written ethics opinion, concerning her arrangements with a Lousiville charity that Northup founded. Northup also appointed the charities director according to Roll Call magazine, and sat on its board of directors. The charity began receiving federal dollars that were earmarked from the appropriations committee of which Northup was a member. The COnservative Edge made a precise request for the written ethics opinion Roll Call had requested Northup obtain.

The request became relevant when Northup began touting her ethical purity late last month, and challenged Governor Fletcher's ethics. Obviously, Republican primary voters were entitiled to know what skeletons Northup might have regarding ethical short comings. Northup ran commercials featuring "ads that Democrats will run in the fall" against Fletcher. The Conservative Edge wanted to know what "ads that the Democrats would run in the fall" against Northup.

At this point, the Northup campaign does not have to follow the open records law. But aren't campaigns designed in part to show voters how the candidate would act if elected? As well, Northup has been pestering Governor Fletcher to answer her document requests and to explain his relationship to Bob Barr. We can't even get Northup to respond to a simple request. Is her attitude "do as I say, not as I do".

Many of Governor Fletcher's detractors complained about the Governor not being responsive to their needs when he first took office. It appears as though Anne Northup is not repsonsive to the needs of those whom she does not like or believes are beneath her. As Fletcher found out, that is not a good way to govern

The Purchasing Governor

This is unsurprising. Governor Fletcher opposes campaigning. Instead, he is seeking election via checkbook. Initially, he awarded various grants. One of them sans a reason. Now, this story arises. For unknown reasons, a Fletcher supporter’s project was delayed. The supporter complained. The Governor pressured. Miraculously, project approved. Governor Fletcher’s administration cannot survive one news cycle without corruption. Why should anyone support him?

From the Lexington Herald-Leader:

After one of Gov. Ernie Fletcher's chief backers complained that the state had delayed approval of financing for one of his projects, the administration reversed its position and set a meeting date specifically to take up the issue.

The Kentucky Private Activity Bond Allocation Committee then gave the Northern Kentucky condo development, called the Ascent, a green light on Nov. 7, 2005 --in time for Fletcher to appear with that supporter, William P. Butler, in a groundbreaking ceremony nine days later. Documents obtained by the Herald-Leader through the state open records law show that attorneys from the state's Finance and Administration Cabinet initially wanted the committee to hold off on approving any bonds for projects until a court case involving the committee was settled.

But three days after Butler, the president and CEO of development company Corporex, sent his letter to the governor's office, one of the finance cabinet lawyers responded to the project's representatives that the bond committee would consider the Ascent after all at the Nov. 7, 2005, meeting. Fletcher said he didn't influence any decisions about the Ascent. "We didn't do anything unusual for that project," he said Friday. "But I'm not familiar with the details of that at all. I'm sure I probably saw the letter, but we get thousands and thousands of them."

Fletcher spokeswoman Jodi Whitaker later called back to say that Fletcher "didn't recall" seeing the letter. Fletcher described Butler, a Democrat who has been one of the governor's top campaign fund-raising chairmen, as a "good friend" and key supporter. But he noted that he has had to say no to Butler before, such as declining to push for $17 million in state funding for a market place development in Covington that Butler wanted.

In the case of the Ascent, a $55 million tower that includes 72 condos, Fletcher said it was good for Covington and the state. Fletcher attended the "cloudbreaking" ceremony for the finished building last month. "If anyone comes with a good project like that ... we'll do everything we can to make sure that those projects are accommodated," Fletcher said. "That's been my direction to the cabinet, regardless of who it is."

However, in the fall of 2005, the timeline for the Ascent project became a point of controversy. Starting on Sept. 13, finance cabinet officials exchanged e-mails with the attorneys handling the financial approvals for the Ascent and a Newport project known as SouthShore. Although neither project was built with state funds, they needed the bond allocation committee's approval for financing.

At one point, the projects' attorney, Dean Spoor, wrote that the Ascent "is requesting a hearing date before the end of October" because an initial groundbreaking ceremony that was to include the governor and local officials already had been scheduled for Oct. 26, 2005. "We do not want to be presumptive in having a groundbreaking before KPABAC has a chance to hold its hearing," Spoor wrote.

One finance staff member, Jason Hamilton, wrote in an e-mail to colleagues, "I don't like it when counsel tells me when we are going to have our meetings."

On Sept. 21, Joseph B. Howard, then the executive director of the finance cabinet's legal services office, wrote to Spoor saying that a case pending in the Kentucky Court of Appeals would delay any decisions by the bond committee indefinitely. A Franklin Circuit judge had ruled in March 2005 that the bond committee failed to do proper groundwork in making a decision about another Northern Kentucky project.

"Therefore, it may be some time before we get clear direction from the court as to KPABAC's actions in economic developments such as yours," Howard wrote to Spoor. Five days later, Butler wrote to Fletcher asking for the bond committee to act on the Ascent project "by special meeting."

"This position on the part of Mr. Howard ... has serious ramifications not only to our project, but to the state at large," Butler wrote. "We do not understand a policy that would stop all work simply because of a filing of a complaint on which there has been no ruling."

On Sept. 29, Howard sent another letter saying the board would indeed meet on Nov. 7, 2005, to consider the applications for both the Ascent and SouthShore projects. Howard, now an attorney in private practice in Lexington, declined to discuss the reversal, saying only "the documents speak for themselves."

F. Thomas Howard, director of the cabinet's office of financial management, said Friday that Joseph Howard's initial response to delay any committee decisions was a "knee-jerk reaction."

After finance cabinet officials discussed the situation further, they decided they shouldn't put everything on hold, Thomas Howard said. In a statement, Butler said he tries to reach the highest levels "whenever the state is making a mistake."

"There is probably no connection between my letter to the governor and the conversations between finance and the bond attorneys," Butler said. "But if there was, the governor acted correctly, as the Ascent project is putting Kentucky on the map."

Thomas Howard said he never saw Butler's Sept. 26, 2005, letter and wasn't aware of any pressure put on the finance cabinet by the governor's office or administration officials. But he said he couldn't remember specifically who gave the final order to move forward with the bond committee's public hearing on the Ascent. "I don't recall how exactly that decision was made," he said. "I just honestly don't remember."

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Perfect End to Fletcher’s Horrific Administration

From the Lexington Herald-Leader:

Education advocates continued to raise questions yesterday about the newly appointed Kentucky education commissioner after additional errors on her résumé were discovered. The state board of education last week unanimously approved a four-year contract for Barbara Erwin, who also has been criticized by parents and board members in other school districts for her "dictatorial" leadership style. A review of her résumé prior to the meeting revealed some inaccuracies, including the listing of an honor she did not receive and a claim that she had been a presenter at a Chicago education conference.

Other mistakes have now surfaced, including an error in the number of years she served on the board of directors for the Scottsdale, Ariz., Chamber of Commerce. Erwin's résumé says she served from 2000 to the present, but she left that district four years ago and is not currently on the board, a spokeswoman with the agency confirmed. Erwin's résumé also lists her membership on the executive board of the American Association of School Administrators from 1991-2000. She was actually a member of the AASA executive committee from 1999 to 2002.

Erwin also claims to be a member of Kappa Delta Phi, a fraternity. The similarly named Kappa Delta Pi, an honor education society, does list a Barbara Erwin as a member. Erwin could not be reached for comment for this story. School board chairman Keith Travis said the board spent several hours with Erwin reviewing every detail on her résumé before the vote. "Once we did that, she got my vote of confidence," he said. "Barbara Erwin is the person that will provide us with the leadership to move forward."

Erwin will receive a four-year contract with a base salary of $220,000 a year, and she will start work July 16. Either side can get out of the contract with 90 days notice, but the board would have to show cause to discontinue the contract. Several critics are alarmed the board is not more concerned with the inaccuracies and also with Erwin's reputation in other school districts. Erwin, who has 36 years of experience in education, was most recently superintendent of schools for the 15,000-student Community Unit District 303 in St. Charles, Ill. Previously, she was superintendent of the Scottsdale Unified School District from 2000-2004 and of the Allen (Texas) Independent School District from 1994-2000. She also was superintendent of the Tipton Community School Corp. in Indiana from 1991-1994.

Dick Innes, education analyst with the Bluegrass Institute for Public Policy Solutions, said résumé blunders are a bigger deal than the board is letting on. "The point is, does this woman pay any attention to detail?" he asked. "Clearly we think (the search process) was ill-advised."

Innes said other education advocates and analysts are overwhelmingly against having Erwin serve as commissioner. "There's a lot of controversy and concern here," he said. Also, "somebody with an abrasive personality is probably not going to last too long in this position."

Pence Snipes, Northup, Fletcher Stage Irrelevant Argument

From the Lexington Herald-Leader:

Republican candidate for governor Anne Northup launched a TV ad this afternoon narrated by Gov. Ernie Fletcher's former running mate, Lt. Gov. Steve Pence. In the ad, which first ran on the 5 p.m. newscast of WTVQ-36 in Lexington, Pence says Fletcher "failed" to follow through on his promises to "clean up Frankfort" and "do away with the good ol' boy system."

"Instead, Fletcher risks an even greater scandal with his secret legal defense fund," said Pence, a former U.S. attorney from Louisville. He goes on to accuse Fletcher of making "false charges" against Northup, referring to a Fletcher TV ad that accuses Northup of "voting against school prayer."

"Anne is a conservative who supports school prayer, and has the votes to prove it," Pence responds.

As a congresswoman, Northup did vote in 1998 against a resolution calling for a constitutional amendment that would have clarified a person's right to pray in school. Northup said she voted against the bill because it would have allowed teachers of any faith to lead classroom prayers. Northup also points to 21 votes in Congress that she says support school prayer. Most of the votes are for school appropriations bills that say none of the funds can be used to "prevent the implementation of programs of voluntary prayer and meditation in the public schools."

She also supported two non-binding resolutions that say school prayer contributes to the moral foundation of students and urges the Supreme Court to rule accordingly. The two campaigns traded barbs over the prayer issue for much of the day. “Anne Northup, regardless of all her rhetoric, voted against the school prayer amendment in 1998," said Marty Ryall, Fletcher's campaign manager, in a news release. "She also voted against the law to allow concealed carry in Kentucky, and even once told a Louisville reporter that she was not pro-gun."

Earlier, Northup's campaign released a statement questioning Fletcher's decision to use automated phone calls attacking Northup on the prayer issue that were narrated by former Republican congressman Bob Barr of Georgia. Barr, who co-sponsored the prayer resolution Northup voted against, has since left the Republican party, is a lobbyist for the Marijuana Project and is considered a "friend" by the American Civil Liberties Union.

Once again, Steve Pence attacks from his elected office. As previously stated, Pence is a politician of convenience. His actions are cheap and tactical. The truth is, Pence did not have concerns, does not have concerns, and never had concerns. If Pence were disturbed with Fletcher’s actions, he could have resigned. If he were a man of conscience, he would have done this. He would have marched into Fletcher’s office, chastised him, resigned, and publicly condemned the Governor. He sat silent. Pence is a wretched human being.

Additionally, education, healthcare, and spending are priorities. School prayer? When did school prayer become relevant? Fletcher ruins education, expands healthcare, Ford is suffering and school prayer is the battle? School prayer is a non-issue. This summarizes Northup vs. Fletcher. Kentucky is not their concern. Defeating their opponent… this is their lone concern.

Overstating the Obvious

Our Governor said education was a priority. Obviously, he failed. Yet, a task force must impart this information.

From the Kentucky Post:

A decade ago, Kentucky's political leaders set ambitious goals for higher education, saying the state's economic health depends on peak performance. The goals were straightforward: Get more kids in - and through - college. Attract top professors and research grants. Rebuild the community and technical college system into a nimble, modern network responsive to employers' training needs. Now, a panel of 25 top business leaders will assess the results and recommend steps to assure progress to Gov. Ernie Fletcher or his successor. "Business people realize the direct correlation between higher education and economic betterment. That connection has to be nurtured, and this task force assessment will be about that," said Dave Adkisson, president and chief executive officer of the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce.

The chamber announced the panel today. Two members are from Northern Kentucky: Jim O'Brien, chairman and chief executive officer of Ashland Inc., headquartered in Covington, and Kelly Swartz, site president of Citi Cards of Citicorp Credit Services Inc. in Florence. The task force chairman, Victor Staffieri, chairman of Louisville-headquartered E.ON U.S., an energy services company, predicted the group will produce a significant report. "In today's knowledge-based economy, a postsecondary education is of vital importance to the economic well-being of the commonwealth," he said.

"The members of this task force are leaders in their communities who understand local issues across the state. Given their successful track records, we can expect exciting results."

Adkisson said business interests lobbied heavily for postsecondary education reforms in 1997, and now there's a sense that the business community needs to reengage. "Sometimes, the business community helps fix something and then is guilty of going on to other challenges," Adkisson said.

"The business community has developed a bad case of laryngitis when it comes to education in Kentucky, and we realize we've got to stay at these efforts from day to day and year to year."

Adkisson said the intention is to have the assessment completed late this year, in time to "frame the issue" for a governor inaugurated in December and for the 2008 General Assembly. Fletcher is seeking a second term, although he'll first have to advance in next Tuesday's Republican primary, then win a run-off if one is required in June, and, finally, win the general election in November. "Members of the task force are very strong business leaders from around the state, and they will not be shy about stating their observations," Adkisson said. "My sense is they will be looking for opportunities to make mid-course corrections toward achieving the goals set in 1997."

A consulting firm from Boulder, Colo., the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems, will assist the task force. One yardstick of progress will be college enrollment and graduation rates. The Council on Postsecondary Education, which was formed to help implement the Postsecondary Education Improvement Act of 1997, set a goal for Kentucky to match the national average of bachelor's degrees awarded annually by the year 2020. In 2000, there were 400,000 Kentuckians - 19 percent of the state's population - with bachelor's degrees. The goal is to have 800,000 - 32 percent - by 2020.

However, if the current rate of producing college graduates continues, the state will be 200,000 under the national average in 2020. To get the state on track to meet the national average by 2020, the council has set high enrollment and graduation goals for all colleges in Kentucky. The goal for Northern Kentucky University is to increase undergraduate enrollment to 22,520 and double the number of bachelor's degrees it awards to 3,149 annually by 2020. The total cost at campuses across the state for new and renovated classroom buildings that will be needed to accommodate such a huge influx of students was estimated last month by council consultants to be $11.7 billion. At NKU, where President James Votruba said at least a half-dozen new classroom buildings will be needed to meet 2020 enrollment goals, council consultants said $544 million will be needed for new construction and $316 million for renovation, a total of $860 million.

How the task force convened by the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce approaches money matters remains to be seen, said Adkisson. "The task force is beginning without any assumptions regarding money," he said. "But as they revisit the challenge of the 2020 goals, they're likely to identify financial implications to making any changes and will deal with those as business people as responsibly as possible."

Votruba said before a search for money begins, people like the governor and lawmakers must want more and better educational opportunities for Kentuckians. "Start with the 'will,' and if there is a strong will for education, then you go about finding the capacity to fund it," he said.

"You find the will first. That means the governor and General Assembly have got to fully understand the significance of post-secondary goals for overall economic progress."

Votruba said he doesn't know if it's possible to concentrate resources in education and still do what needs to be done in other areas of government. That will be up to the governor and legislative leaders to decide, he said. "But, over the next 15 years, we're going to see states that are winning and states that are not. And in the winning states, higher education has a prominent place," Votruba said.

Kentucky Progress: Vote Harper

Call it a protest vote if you want. I'm voting for Billy Harper. In an embarrassing primary food fight between Anne Northup and Ernie Fletcher, "supporting the winner" just doesn't cut it this time.

Harper offers a consistent conservatism and no-nonsense style Kentucky could use if we are to escape backwater status. And with Democrats likely to nominate a baggage-laden politician, Republicans would do well to represent themselves with someone not encumbered with evidence of questionable judgement.

Harper's support of KERA is a little tough to forgive, but that is overwhelmed by his continuing involvement in education and his current solutions, which involve more than just spending more money and would likely reverse a lot of KERA's damage while placing us on a course for substantial gains.

Economic development is something everyone talks about, but really belongs in the hands of someone who can move it along with more than just subsidies. Pulling the state out of debt will require someone with a solid mandate. Listen closely to Harper. It isn't immediately apparent, but he is the type of leader who can inspire people to look beyond partisanship and toward the vision of the little guy from Paducah who said and meant "and I mean NO!"

Jefferson Review Voting For Harper

The Kentucky primary races are coming right up, and, as a registered Republican, I have three choices: Fletcher, Northup, or Harper. Of the three, only Harper is promoting ideas that can make a real improvement in the state. In education, Harper is promoting school choice, which would provide real improved opportunities for our children without increasing the cost to taxpayers. He also promotes free market solutions to other problems rather than more government control over our lives, which again is the approach that repeatedly has been proven to work. He also has successfully run a business, which means he stands a decent chance of being able to run the state. (This can be contrasted with Northup, who has never been a chief executive of anything, and Fletcher, who also was never a chief executive of anything larger than a small medical practice before being elected governor.)

The other two candidates are not as promising. Northup has run a very negative campaign, mainly attacking Fletcher, offering no new ideas, and even refusing to answer a survey on the issues by The Courier-Journal. Fletcher’s performance as governor has been disappointing, and he has been taking advantage of his position as governor to use taxpayer money to buy support in this election. The polls have shown Harper to be in third place, but the situation can change rapidly, and votes are what really count.

I am tired of wasting my vote on people who give us the same old failed policies. I’d rather risk voting for someone who is likely to really make a positive change if he is elected. If Kentucky Republicans, who are very discouraged both with Fletcher and Northup, would take a moment to think about their options, they may reach the same conclusion I have reached. For the sake of our state, I sure hope they do.

Northup’s Gun Reality

Despite her delusional supporters…

Northup Gets A on Guns from Group That Counts: the NRA (Cyber Hillbilly)

In 2006 the NRA reviewed Anne Northup’s career the way they do every other candidate for Congress at the end of every term and gave the Congresswoman an “A” for her record in Washington fighting to protect the 2nd amendment. That should be the end of the story. The NRA is the nation’s preeminent gun ownership lobby in America and is nearly universally trusted by hunters and gun aficionado’s alike.

Sadly, it’s not. As Elendil's Journal points out, Northup does draw fire on guns. But look who’s doing the firing: the Gun Owners of America. This is a group that accuses the NRA of selling out gun rights. They’re even opposed to finding ways to keep firearms away from “mentally unstable killers like [VA Tech Shooter] Cho Seung-Hui.”

Northup’s gun record is reality….

Gun Control Ratings for Northup in Congress (Elendil’s Journal)

Many people have questioned, including myself, Northup's support of gun owner's right . So I wanted to go and look at her record in the legislature to see if the criticism was justified. I went to GOA (Gun Owners of America) to find out Northup's rankings while she was in Congress and found the following rating system.

Grade Definition

A+ Pro-Gun Leader: introduces pro-gun legislation.

A & A- Pro-Gun Voter: philosophically sound.

B & B- Pro-Gun Compromiser: generally leans our way.

C & C- Leans Our Way: occasionally.

D & D- Leans Anti-Gun: usually against us.

F Anti-Gun Voter: a philosophically committed anti-gunner.

F- Anti-Gun Leader: outspoken anti-gun advocate who carries anti-gun legislation.

In this scale anything less than an A- in my mind is problematic. That means they would be willing to compromise on our the second amendment right to bear arms. I would have a hard time voting for someone that didn't at least have a B average.

So how did Northup fair while she was in Congress?

Term Served Grade

106th Congress D-

107th Congress C-

108th Congress C-

109th Congress A-

Ouch! Only in her last term did she show any affinity for the second amendment. What I find more disturbing was her vote on the concealed carry law in the Kentucky General Assembly back in 1996. Concealed carry is a cornerstone right for those who believe in the second amendment. It allows law abiding citizens that chance to defend themselves against evil. She was one of 20 legislators to vote against the measure that passed 74-20. Heck she even introduced a measure that would require people to give a reason for seeking the permit. This disregard for the constitutional rights of law abiding citizens is very disturbing.

Kentucky Pachyderm 2 Lambastes Negative Northup

We can’t remember which Kentucky governor started the tradition of handing out oversized checks to announce the funding of local projects. It was either Wallace Wilkinson or Brereton Jones; we’re not sure. (One of us said Martha Layne Collins, but the rest of us think the practice started after she left office). But one thing’s for certain, governors have been doing this for at least 15 years and the tradition dates back to before gubernatorial succession was allowed.

Years ago we heard one Central Kentucky mayor say he hoped to paper the walls of his City Hall with those ceremonial checks. Of course since he was a Republican mayor in a Republican community, his dream didn’t come true. But the moral of the story is that local officials in small towns appreciate state funding for their projects.

It’s not news when the governor appears in Lexington or Louisville, or even larger towns or urban areas like Northern Kentucky, Owensboro, Bowling Green, Ashland or Paducah. The press pays little to no attention to him being there or why he’s there. On the other hand, when the governor visits places such as Inez or Burkesville or Calhoun or Cadiz, that’s of note to the local populace as well as the local press.

Even when a Democrat governor comes to a Republican town, he is treated like visiting royalty. Leaders from both parties turn out for the event. The local newspapers often cover a gubernatorial visit like it’s the biggest story of the year, and in many cases, it is. The people in Booneville and Owenton and Greenville want to think the governor is interested in their needs and concerns, and not paying attention only to Fayette and Jefferson counties.

The rural counties in Kentucky have their own special needs from the government. They don’t have a sufficient property tax base or payroll tax base to fund services like Lexington and Louisville do. They need state government’s help in funding projects like street and road repairs, water line extensions, and other things that the larger communities can pay for themselves.

When a governor comes to town to break ground or cut a ribbon or present a check, the local people appreciate it. They are happy to see that Frankfort is looking out for them. That’s one reason we don’t think Anne Northup’s recent flurry of negativity is going to be of benefit to her. It’s almost as if she is ridiculing these communities and their needs. When she criticizes Gov. Fletcher for going to places like Lancaster or Elkton or Owenton, in effect she is saying, “You people don’t deserve the projects you are getting from the state and the governor is wasting his time by visiting your community.”

People realize that, too. We’ve seen Gov. Fletcher go to counties that are heavily Democratic in registration and receive an enthusiastic welcome. We’ve also seen Democrat governors such as Jones and Wilkinson and Collins go into staunchly Republican counties and receive the same recognition, even though they could not succeed themselves. No one begrudged those communities their projects back then, nor the visits from the governors.
When Northup attacks Fletcher for traveling across the state and announcing projects, she not only aims her poison barbs at the incumbent governor, but to every community that gets these much-needed state projects. Would she prefer that the money go to her hometown of Louisville instead? Anne Northup’s negative campaign insults the intelligence of every Kentuckian who does not live in a major metropolitan area.

The World’s Worst Retort

People challenge Anne Northup. Her blogger’s responses? They assail the messenger. The aforesaid is political smear tactics. The aforesaid is also pathetic. Attacking the statements and not their substance screams desperation. Obviously, Northup’s supporters are.

From Blue Grass, Red State:

Now that the actual Fletcher campaign is publicly resorting to lies and negativity instead of allowing henchmen to do the dirty work for them behind closed doors and in roundabout ways, we have a great chance to see firsthand again the incompetence that has plagued Ernie Fletcher during his entire term as Governor.

Did the Fletcher campaign think the Barr recording would only be heard by people listening to their answering machines? Did they think they could keep it all hush hush? Or, are they just so dumb that they didn't think to research the biography of the man they were using to attack Anne Northup?

Bob Barr is an anti-Christian anti-terror fighting pothead, and now he's speaking for Ernie Fletcher! As I said just last week, when Anne Northup represented KY-3 in Congress, one of the extraordinary things she did was wield her power to fight social ills using conservative methods in attempts to reach conservative goals. For this, she drew the hatred of liberal Democrats, the ACLU, and other assorted kooks. Now, Ernie Fletcher is using a friend of the ACLU who lobbies for the Marijuana Policy Project and withdrew from the Republican Party to speak on his behalf in phone messages attacking Anne Northup's stellar record.

From Cyber Hillbilly:

What is it about Anne Northup that makes kooks oppose her so fiercely? Over the past few months perhaps nothing has been more amusing than to watch a steady procession of nut jobs come out in opposition to the former Congresswoman in her bid for Governor. First there were the libertarians: as KY Progress reported, the Take Back Kentucky group endorsed Gatewood, and singled out Anne Northup for criticism. I guess we know what those guys were smoking.

Then Frankfort restaurateur Rick Paul got into the game on Friday, when he suggested in a blast email that the Congresswoman is set to and should drop out of the Governor's race in spite of confirmation by the weekend that she’s actually ahead in at least one poll. Paul is listed by the Kentucky Hemp Food Association as a 1999 supporter of the Hemp Food Banquet which “conducted a test for taste and the drug, THC.” He's also on record as a strong Gatewood supporter.

Now comes word that the Governor has allied with former Congressman Bob Barr to bring the message to the state that the former Congresswoman who fought so hard to get millions for her local churches, the devout Catholic who’s fought abortion tooth and nail her entire career, the same lady who believes deeply enough in the sanctity of life and God’s commandments that she not only had four children of her own, but actually adopted two more… that this lady wanted to take God out of our children’s schools. Yes, you heard me right.
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