Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Our Kind of Switch

From Blue Grass, Red State:

In today's Herald-Leader, Julian Carroll was quoted as saying: "What Ernie Fletcher has done -- his one major accomplishment -- has been to show strong proof of the fact that we need to change governors," Carroll said. "It's created this enormous excitement among Democrats."(emphasis mine)

Excitement among Democrats? This quote is bipolar.

Yes, we need a gubernatorial switch. No, we do not need a Democrat.

It’s All Good

From the Louisville Courier-Journal:

It’s good that former U.S. Rep. Anne Northup got into the Republican gubernatorial primary. The GOP faithful will have a chance to decide whether they believe Gov. Ernie Fletcher’s claims that: 1) he’s the party’s best bet for holding the governor’s office, 2) he’s the best choice for those who want competence in the governor’s office, 3) he’s earned the thanks and support of his fellow Republicans.

It’s good that Paducah businessman Billy Harper will offer another, well-financed Republican voice, given his special interest in, and insight into, education. There is no more important issue for the voters of this state, and its biggest city.

It’s too bad neither U.S. Rep. Ben Chandler nor Louisville Mayor Jerry Abramson would brace up to the Democratic race. In their absence, their party’s primary could turn into a Charge of the Lite Brigade. We hope not.

It’s good the Courier-Journal penned this editorial. As for their opinions… Governor Fletcher is not our best bet, he’s obviously not the best competence choice, and his hiring scandal lost him the support of his fellow Republicans. As for their charge this primary is a charge of the Lite Brigade, have they seen the Democratic contenders?

Loser’s Poker

Hello, State Officials… This is integrity. Please shut up!

This Herald-Leader article is ridiculous. Fletcher and Northup should sponsor the runoff repeal. Neither can garner 40% in the primary and they are scared. Both would struggle in a runoff and they are terrified.

As I stated previously, these purported frontrunners need to simply play the laws as they are and shut up! From the Lexington Herald-Leader:

Secretary of State Trey Grayson expressed concern today about the cost of a primary runoff election if one is needed in this year’s race for governor.

Grayson, the state’s top election officer, said a primary runoff would cost about $5 million -- $2 million from the state and $3 million from local governments.

“At the state level, we made it a necessary government expense so the state will find the money to do it,” Grayson said. “My concern is the counties. It’s late in the fiscal year for them. It will be a real big burden.”

Under state law, the top vote-getters in the May 22 Democratic and Republican primary elections for governor must get at least 40 percent of the votes to win their party’s nomination to run in the November general election.

If no one in a primary reaches that threshold, the state must hold a runoff election a month later between the top tow finishers in the primary.

Political observers say a runoff would be advantageous for independently wealthy candidates who could open up their pocketbooks to finance their campaigns.

Grayson said he does not like the current law but does not think it should be repealed now. “I don’t like changing the rules in mid-stream,” he said.

Grayson noted that House Speaker Jody Richards, a Bowling Green Democrat running for governor, has said a bill might get out of the House this year to do away with the primary runoff. Senate President David Williams has said he favors repeal of the law and Gov. Ernie Fletcher has said he would sign a bill that removes the runoff provision.

“I suspect it will become a bargaining chip in the final days of the General Assembly’s session,” Grayson said. “My prediction is that it still probably won’t be repealed because it is such a political issue.”

Lawmakers return to the Capitol next week for this year’s legislative session.

If the primary runoff does get repealed, Grayson said, it will be because of its cost. “It’s just a lot of money,” he said.

Grayson added that he plans to meet soon with the state Board of Elections and county clerks to plan for a possible runoff.

Amen OTR, Amen!

From On the Right:

The Lexington Herald-Liberal is reporting that there is renewed interest in the repealing the state's primary runoff election law because "wealthy candidates" in both parties have entered this year's race for Governor.

Under current state law the top vote-getter's in the May primary must receive at least 40% of the vote to avoid a runoff between the two top finishers a month later.Supporters of repeal argue the runoff system favors rich candidates who can self-finance a runoff. I believe the current runoff system should not be changed for the 2007 election cycle as it would constitute changing the rules in the middle of the game and possibly result in the nomination of a candidate with less than a majority of those voting.

Primaries in Kentucky have notoriously low turnouts (10-20 % of registered voters) which means that a minority of a minority of those eligible to vote could determine the election.Bruce Lunsford's ill-fated last campaign in 2003 demonstrated that you can't buy an election even if you have more money than God and are willing to waste it on a quixotic attempt to put the word Governor before your name!

Conservative Edge, Bashing Anne Since Before She Thought About Running

Jonathan Gay, blogging as the Cyber Hill Billy has been doing a great job of promoting Anne Northup to Republicans living in Appalachia. And, to her credit Northup has been focusing on that part of the state in her first weeks of campaigning. But, Appalachiha may want to know the whole story on Ms. Northup, the Louisville bridges and the state transporation budget.

According to sources familiar with the situation, Ms. Northup became visibly upset with transportation officials, when the Fletcher Administration refused to give in to her's and other Louisville Republican's demands that the state fund the two Louisville bridge projects.

The projected costs of the project would have stripped the rest of the state of needed transportation funds for as long as twenty years. Thus, areas of the state that are in need of infrastructure upgrades, like Appalachia, would have gone wanting for a long time. Some speculate that the Northup candidacy is fueled in part by the desire of Lousiville Republicans to get their bridges. Fletcher Administration officials were told repeatedly that Louisville did not get it's "fair share" of tax revenue.

We have seen similair comments from Louisville based members of Kentucky's new conservative media. Considering that the Fletcher Administration tries to spread the transportation money evenly around the state, Appalachian Republicans may want to consider carefully, who they choose as their candidate for Governor. In fact, all of Appalachia will want to vote for their next Governor wisely.

Governor, We’ve Had Enough

From Blue Grass, Red State:

After Fletcher's botched pick of Hunter Bates as running mate (maybe the best thing that ever happened to Bates, in retrospect), 2003 R primary opponent Rebecca Jackson was asked by Al Cross of The Courier-Journal what she thought of the lawsuit filed by Curtis Shain and Bob Heleringer to remove Bates from Fletcher's ticket.

"I'm not making a legal issue of it," she said. "Let's get over it and let's discuss the issues," such as her proposal yesterday to give tax credits to National Guard and military reserve troops called into action for more than 90 days.

That's a pretty good idea. I guess that's why Fletcher held it in his pocket for a while to propose something like it when he really needs it, like today, for example. Jackson also said in April of 2003 that she would "require executive-branch employees to be educated about the ethics code and sign a pledge to observe it, so she could take immediate action against violators without waiting for the ethics commission to act (Cross)." Yeah, that would have been nice, too, but now, thanks to Fletcher, Republicans look like the bad unethical people.

We have to turn this thing back around. The RPK has been seriously derailed by Fletcher's political incompetence. If Fletcher were all we had, I would be behind him 100%, trying to justify, stay positive, talk about accomplishments, etc. As is, though, there is an alternative. Things can be better for Kentucky next year. All we have to do is hold our leaders accountable.

This is correct. There is an alternative. Fletcher walked himself into this position. Now, we have to boot him out of office.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Let’s Get Ready to Rumble!


Running Off With Complaints

From the Lexington Herald-Leader:

The entry of independently wealthy candidates in both parties in this year's crowded race for governor appears to be propelling a call to repeal a state law regarding primary runoff elections.

Under current state law, the top vote-getters in the May 22 primaries must receive at least 40 percent of the votes to win the Republican or Democratic nomination for governor. If no one in a primary reaches that threshold, the state must hold a runoff election a month later between the top two finishers in the primary. State Rep. Rick Nelson, D-Middlesboro, is backing legislation to do away with that electoral overtime period.

Both Republican and Democratic races for governor have attracted candidates with large pocketbooks, who could have a distinct advantage in a runoff election. Paducah businessman Billy Harper, a Republican, and Louisville businessman Bruce Lunsford, a Democrat, are ready to spend millions of their own dollars to be Kentucky's next governor.

Former Democratic governor and current state Sen. Julian Carroll of Frankfort said that, although he thinks it would be "unfair to change" the rules, he would support eliminating the runoff "because it will save taxpayers the money it would cost for another election."

He said a runoff also would require the candidates to raise as much as $3 million within two weeks, a feat that could most likely be accomplished only by wealthy candidates who could write their campaign a big check.

Senate President David Williams, R-Burkesville, said, "I don't think Republicans have been supportive of a runoff. It's been a Democrat proposal." Legislation to repeal the primary runoff law "would be received favorably in the Senate," he said.

House Speaker Jody Richards, a Bowling Green Democrat running for governor, said he did not know whether the primary runoff law will be repealed in this year's session. "I don't particularly like it but it makes no difference to me."

Memo to Frankfort politicians: Play the hand your dealt and shut up!

Monday, January 29, 2007

Fletcher Filet?

Republican Gov. Ernie Fletcher gets a "vulnerable" rating in The Rothenberg Political Report's first ranking of the nation's three gubernatorial races this year. Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco, a Democrat, joins Fletcher on the vulnerable list. Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, a Republican, is considered safe.
This illustrates what I have been saying for months. The hiring scandal has impact.

Wolf Wraps GOV Forum, Rips Rhino Anne

From the Wolf’s Den:

They came from the four corners of the state, near and far. They came from as far as Frankfort and Paducah and as near as Louisville itself. Some of them had well-known names in Kentucky politics: Fletcher, Beshear,Miller, and Henry. Others not so well known, now: Harper, Galbraith. They all came to the Kentucky Press Association's winter meeting in Louisville, KY to make their case why they should be governor. By all accounts, it was a bust!!! On a side note, I read that my good friend, Steele, at http://steeleskentucky.townhall.com/, was a might perturbed that our favorite RHINO, Anne Northup, was absent from the summit meeting. Not to worry.

Everyone who knows anything about RHINOs knows that on Friday RHINOs get their hair coiffed, nails done and Botox injected so they are ready to campaign for the weekend. So the six who would be king came and talked. The end result was about the same as any campaign stop. It was all style and no substance. The Demobats kept up their "Had Enough" mantra. Far more disturbing to me than their worn out slogan is the new Demobat idea of how to raise revenue for schools , health care and all those unconstitutional state goverment give-away programs.

Demobat candidate Steve Beshear wants to push for a state amendment that would expand legalized gambling.( I wonder if I'm the only one who thinks "legalized gambling" is an oxymoron.)This might play well to the folks up along the northern half of Kentucky, especially with those who own and operate gambling venues, and have a lot of money to buy professional politicians such as Mr. Beshear, but I guarantee you it wont play well down here in Baptist country.

The last time I checked the Bible, gambling was still considered a sin. Billy Harper, to his credit, knows Kentucky needs a better education system than it has now, but opposes expanding legalized gambling not only on moral grounds but also for practical reasons. As a business man he understands that you can't plan an economy based on gambling. He knows that if the state repeals the Alternative Minimum Tax on businesses, more companies will invest in Kentucky, which will increase state revenues. Gov. Ernie, of course, follows the time honored professional politician's course of waffling.

He's personally opposed to it which he believes should satisfy the Baptists, but he wont "stand in the way if it were to be put to the voters to let them decide." which should satisfy the gamblers. In addition, it's a pretty safe bet(if you're a gambler) that Gov. Ernie will wait until after the November election to tell us all what he plans on doing with the state's surplus. Anne Northup's stand on expanding legalized gambling is that she may or may not be for it, adding:"Of course I am a gambler, I gamble everytime I order Chinese food". Ok, Ok, only kidding.

She's taking the safe road like Gov. Ernie: let the voters decide. So the six giants of Kentucky politics met on Mount Louisville and set the tone for the governor's race. Gov. Ernie painfully tried to defend the past actions of his administration with a simple "We're not perfect. But I will say this: We brought the state out of some very difficult times..." The Demobats were, like rats on cheese, crawling all over themselves trying to prove one was more ethical than the other. Those candidates with actual plans and real working ideas were lost in the melee.

Already politicians across the state are predicting run-off elections for both parties. This summit could have been so much more. It could have given the voters actual insights into what platforms the candidates really trully support. Instead it was, to quote Mr. Beshear, where: "many of the policies and plans being talked about ... were merely retreads of promises politicians made in the past." Personally I think we in Kentucky deserve better than that.....

Overstating Her Backers?

Anne Northup requests five hundred supporters. What’s the statement when she fails?

From the Louisville Courier-Journal:

In preparation for Saturday's state Republican Party Lincoln Day Dinner, the three GOP candidates for governor are recruiting supporters to fill up the Louisville International Convention Center. The annual dinner, named for Kentucky-born Republican President Abraham Lincoln, is typically a major fund-raiser for the party featuring big-name speakers that often talk about GOP unity.

So it is under that premise that the Republican candidates for governor are eagerly drumming up support so as to divide up the crowd by Gov. Ernie Fletcher's troops, Paducah businessman Billy Harper's people and former U.S. Rep. Anne Northup's backers. Northup, who represented Louisville for 10 years in Congress, has home-field advantage and is shooting for 500 of her supporters to show up, according to a letter she's distributing. "I am hoping you will not only attend this event, but agree to put together a table of ten Northup supporters," the letter dated Jan. 23 says. "A strong showing of 500 supporters will help us demonstrate our strength right from the start."

Governor Zero

On the Right chronicles Republican contributions since 2003.

Billy Harper: $35,085

Ernie Fletcher: $0

A Champion Passes

Barbaro
(2003-2007)

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Wanted: Anyone Else

Anne Northup preached electability. What about ideas?

Kentucky needs someone worth electing.


From Hillary Spot (National Review):

During her announcement, she never said anything about ideas. Here only message was that she’s the only one that is electable in November. Oh, unless you count this very meaty concept:“I want to help grow our economy, improve our education, and create good paying jobs. And most importantly, I want to make Kentucky a great place to raise a family - a place that those in other states will seek out to live and work.” –word of insight from Anne Northup

Friday, January 26, 2007

Forum Held Sans Northup

Where was Northup at the candidate forum? What is she afraid of? This was her golden opportunity to challenge the Governor...

From Kentucky Kurmudgeon:

Six of the eight announced candidates for governor made their pitches to the Kentucky Press Association in Louisville today. House Speaker Jody Richards and former U.S. Rep. Anne Northup passed up the event. A couple of new ideas surfaced, or at least new to me. For instance, Paducah businessman Billy Harper proposed letting a private company design and build the Louisville bridges project and then collect tolls on them. And former Lt. Gov. Steve Henry said he would like to create a state surgeon general's office to deal with Kentucky's health issues.

From Conservative Edge:

The first gubernatorial debate of the campaign season occurred today in Louisville. The event was sponsored by the Kentucky Press Association. Most of the big names were there, but Anne Northup was a no show in her own home town. Pol Watchers has a recap of the event at it's site.The single most striking aspect of the debate was that all but one of the candidates talked about what they will do. While Governor Fletcher got to tout what he has done. And his list of accomplishments is not meager.

From Bill’s Political Blog:

Meanwhile… Several candidates for governor appeared for a forum before reporters in Louisville. Governor Fletcher said he makes no claim to perfection, but says his administration has overcome major financial hurdles facing the state. Billy Harper said as a businessman, he knows how to get things done and create jobs. Harper also criticized former Congresswoman Anne Northup for not attending the Kentucky Press Association forum. She was campaigning in the heavily Republican southern part of the state.

Harper Discusses Ford

Liberal Left Loves Fletcher

From Blue Grass, Red State:

MyDD is one of the most liberal blogs out there, with very close connections to Daily Kos, famous recently for its staunch support of kook Ned Lamont over the reasonable Democrat Joe Lieberman.

The guy in the picture was instrumental in creating/implementing a "Google-bombing" scheme by which bloggers could manipulate the Google search engine in order to make it generate anti-Republican web pages at the top (most relevant portion) of its search results. Notice the "Ned Lamont" sticker the guy is wearing. He is a blogger at MyDD and sometimes Daily Kos. Additionally, the guy in the picture, Chris Bowers, is a resident of Philadelphia and a member of the Pennsylvania State Democratic Committee. A recent entry on MyDD written by "kynetroots" encourages Google-bomb action against Northup. It reads:

Its important that the Netroots act now and support efforts that Kentucky activists (even some Conservative Republicans who support Fletcher) are taking (emphasis mine) to ensure that Northup does not build too much strength from defeating the corrupt Governor and cementing her image as a corruption free candidate. This is why we must join together to help the Google-bombing campaign against Northup, and now her running mate Jeff Hoover, that was started by Chris Bowers before the 2006 election.

Bowers may or may not personally be behind the current Google-bombing "campaign," but he certainly worked against Northup in '06, when he posted Google-bomb source code on MyDD for people to embed in their blog source code. The code is essentially a list of junk "news articles" written by liberal "journalists." Now "kynetroots" is on it. Could this be the work of Mark Nickolas? Bluegrass Report is MyDD's official Kentucky state blog. Someone in the Fletcher administration? We may never know for sure, but someone is taking desperate and manipulatory measures to keep Northup/Hoover from winning the Republican primary.

What we do know, however, is that KY Democrats would prefer to run against Fletcher over Northup/Hoover in 2007 and that Democrats from all over the country are participating in the campaign to make that happen. They want Fletcher to win the May Republican primary because they know they can capitalize on their '06 momentum and Fletcher's political problems to take back the governorship. I'm afraid some Republicans have their heads in the sand on this one. If Fletcher is so electable, why are liberals supporting him? Hat tip to abortion-supporter Majikthise for the photo of Comrade Bowers.

Harper Releases Statements

On Jobs & Education:

Businessman and Republican Candidate for Governor Billy Harper stressed education and job growth in the first Gubernatorial candidate forum of the 2007 election cycle.

“As a businessman, I know how to create jobs. As a leader in education reform, I know how to improve schools. As your Governor, I’ll do both,” Harper said in his opening statement to members of the Kentucky Press Association at its winter meeting in Louisville.

Harper also expressed disappointment in former Congresswoman Anne Northup’s decision to skip the forum.

“I wish Anne was able to attend. I think these forums, particularly one sponsored by the state’s press association, are a great opportunity to discuss the issues important to Kentucky in a positive and constructive setting,” stated Harper.

Harper said he plans on attending every candidate forum his schedule allows to discuss the challenges facing Kentucky and his vision for moving the state forward.

Harper chaired Leadership Kentucky, an association of business leaders from across the state, and has also served as chair of the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce. More recently, Harper brought business people, teachers, and school administrators together from across the state to help write the Harper Report on education. The report made 52 specific recommendations to help improve education for all Kentucky students, and today nearly half of those suggestions have been put into effect throughout the state.

Harper currently serves as president of Harper Industries, a family-owned and operated construction and engineering company based in Paducah. For specific information about Harper’s proposals for job growth and education – including a downloadable copy of the Harper Report – visit the campaign online at www.harperforgovernor.com.

On AMT:

"The Governor’s proposal to extend tax incentives to Ford in order to preserve jobs in Kentucky begs the question of why he won't repeal the Alternative Minimum Tax, which is driving the jobs out of Kentucky in the first place.

The University of Kentucky has documented that a great many of the tax incentives Kentucky has extended to businesses have not resulted in the predicted job creation. This is because Kentucky has collected $100 million more this year than last year in business taxes. If the state left that $100 million in the hands of businesses it would not need to offer new tax incentives, just cut taxes."

Quality Jobbed

The Department of Labor says we lost 55,000 jobs after the AMT passed (2005).

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Fletcher Talks (Out the Other Side Of His Mouth), Harper Responds

Governor Fletcher: “We will be making some recommendations to the General Assembly this year, and we hope that sends a strong message to Ford Motor Co. that we are ready to help them turn the company around and become profitable again.”

Billy Harper’s response:

Billy Harper for Governor campaign manager Stan Pulliam laughed out loud at comments Governor Ernie Fletcher made about Ford Motor Company's financial woes.

"These guys are unbelievable," Pulliam exclaimed in response to public comments from Fletcher that he would try to get state funds for the struggling automobile manufacturer. Ford posted quarterly losses of $5.8 Billion today.

"So they are going to help Ford Motor Company after they tax them for being unprofitable," Pulliam said. "This is a perfect example of why we need to repeal the Alternative Minimum Tax."

Harper will hold press conference at 8 a.m.

Thanks Governor…

Democratic candidates spent this day touting ethics proposals. I wont reprint them.

However, ask yourself, why are we discussing ethics reform?

Liar, Liar?

According to the Louisville Courier-Journal, Senator Mitch McConnell did not encourage Anne Northup’s candidacy. Yet another case of Northup dishonesty.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Give Up On The Fifth

Several blogs are buzzing about Anne Northup and the old fifth district.

Everyone read
Ryan Alessi’s article. Northup is a congressional loser. She will not refurbish the district’s luster.

The "Old Fifth" Defined and In-Depth

Over the past few weeks a common theme has emerged in the Republican gubernatorial primary: the importance of the “old fifth” among the chattering class. Ryan Alessi recently reported that the area could no longer be considered the GOP’s Gibraltar; Bryan Mills has compared candidates’ attempts to woo this area to picking blackberries; and the KY Enquirer’s Pat Crowley wrote that Anne Northup’s pick of Jeff Hoover as her running mate was part of an effort to “corral the Old Fifth.” (Notice the capitalization in Crowley’s column.)

Despite its obvious importance, there’s the real possibility that there are a still a few readers who’re wondering whether this is some reference to a Masonic rite, a mysterious organization that stresses the number “5” as a part of its philosophy, or even an area similar to that facility in Nevada called “Area 51”, where Kentucky keeps aliens and spaceships. In fact, the Old Fifth is, perhaps unfortunately, nothing quite so mysterious or fascinating.

With Northup-Hoover, Old Fifth Has Chance to Regain Lost Influence

The last time voters in the “old fifth” had one of their own in Kentucky’s Governor’s office was 1931. That’s when Knox County pol Flem “Flam” Sampson was Governor. Sampson is best known for his efforts to create the Kentucky Colonel system and the Kentucky Progress Commission.

While there isn’t a candidate from the old fifth in the race this year, Jeff Hoover, who’s running for Lt. Governor under Anne Northup, would be a nice consolation prize for the region.

Northup/Hoover Influence in Old 5th

Cyberhillbilly has some more of his enlightened coverage of the 2007 governor's race here, here, and here.

Jonathan really has the best coverage of this thing so far. These pieces primarily define the Old Fifth and explain Northup/Hoover's potential for influence in this important region.

Northup Heads to 5th District

Former Louisville Congresswoman Anne Northup is venturing far beyond the Gene Snyder Freeway … campaigning in what Louie Nunn used to call “the old Republican fifth.” That’s a reference to the once Republican majority district that was basically centered on Lake Cumberland. Redistricting after the 1990 census took the 5th east and turned it slightly Democratic in registration. But Southern Kentucky is still reliably Republican in its voting patterns and registration. Counties like Pulaski, Laurel, Whitley, Clay and Russell can quickly add up the GOP vote. Northup is introducing herself in those areas, accompanied by her running mate from Jamestown, House Minority Leader Jeff Hoover.

School is Open, Fletcher is Closed

From Blue Grass, Red State:

Governor Fletcher cancelled a scheduled visit to East Carter Middle School this morning. Reportedly, it was due to snow. That's kind of hard to believe, since he was apparently able to make it to Ashland, just one county east in Boyd, for his Get Healthy thing. I'm not there, though, so I'm not sure. Maybe it was due to snow, but it doesn't take away from the fact that he has a horrible reputation for 1) being hard to reach and 2) making commitments and then cancelling. Something comes up every now and then, for sure, and that is certainly forgivable. Governor Fletcher has earned himself quite a reputation on this, however, and it hasn't done anything for the initial arrogance with which he and his staff entered Frankfort.

Fletcher is a Friend?

Senator Bunning endorsed Anne Northup.
With friends such as these…

You Have No Excuse

Right to Life did not endorse Jeff Hoover’s previous campaign. The internet’s excuse? He failed to complete the organization’s survey.

This excuse is pathetic.

Candidates receive hundreds of surveys. They virtually never answer themselves. Despite being unopposed, why would Hoover not have an intern complete a five-minute form?

Questing Number Two

Anne is a true conservative? Why would her ticket include someone Right to Life wouldn't endorse?

The L Word

Senator Jim Bunning: “Anne is a true conservative who is able to appeal to voters, even in the most liberal part of state.”

Abortion and pork barrel spending. Bunning has said it all.

Complaining About the Sword

Until this year, Richard W. Pombo, the seven-term Republican congressman from the Central Valley, had never caused much fanfare about bringing home earmarks, the special local projects that circumvent the normal budgeting process. He was far better known for his work fighting environmental regulations.

All that changed in the closing months of this year’s surprisingly tight re-election campaign, when Mr. Pombo began trumpeting the money he had directed to his car-bound district — particularly $75 million for highway expansion, a gift for one of the most congested areas of California.

But it was not enough to persuade voters like Alex Aldenhuysen, a self-described independent, just out of the Navy and voting for the first time in two years. He said he was turned off by Mr. Pombo’s earmark talk. And in the end, Mr. Pombo lost his seat to a Democrat in one of the year’s most significant upsets.

A timeworn bit of political wisdom has been that larding one’s district with pork projects can act as an incumbency protection program. And the Republican leaders in Congress ardently followed that principle.

“The leadership talked all the time about how we’ve got to use earmarks to help these vulnerable members,” said Representative Jeff Flake, Republican of Arizona, who has become one of Washington’s loudest opponents of earmarking. “But what this election showed was that earmarks just aren’t that important to voters.”

The powers of incumbency could not outweigh far more pressing issues, this year, like the war in Iraq — which became the central point of most of the Democratic campaigns — or the scandals that tarnished the Republican Party as a whole. The abuse of earmarks itself became an issue in several races with some of their biggest users, including two senators and four House members who served on the appropriations committees that oversee federal spending, losing their seats.

It would be premature to write off the power of earmarks. Even in a highly unfavorable year for Republicans, some of the biggest pork-style spenders handily won re-election. And though Democrats have vowed to strip earmarks from unfinished spending bills, the practice is such an oft-used political tool that it may prove too tempting to eliminate.

“When you’re talking about institutional change, you need something sweeping to happen in an election,” said James D. Savage, a professor of political science at the University of Virginia and the author of a book on earmarks. “I think the incentive to use earmarks is still there because it’s one of the few tools a member of Congress can use.”

The number and total cost of earmarks reached record highs over the last two years, but they seemed to offer little help to some members.

Representative Anne M. Northup, a Kentucky Republican who was a member of the House Appropriations Committee, was defeated after five terms despite bringing earmarks to her district, which includes Louisville, that were worth more than five times that of two other districts without competitive races. Mr. Flake identified her as one of the Republican leaders who pushed for earmarks to help troubled incumbents.

“Anne Northup was in there saying we’ve got to have these earmarks to help certain members,” Mr. Flake said. “She was always saying how valuable they are.”

In an interview, Ms. Northup defended earmarks as a flexible budget tool for members of Congress, and she took issue with Mr. Flake’s conclusion that voters rejected politicians who relied on them.

Instead, she singled out one of the most notorious earmarks of the last budget cycle — $230 million to build a bridge from a small town in Alaska to an island with fewer than 50 people — as an anchor that dragged down other Republicans. Representative Don Young, an Alaska Republican who served as chairman of the Transportation Committee, guided a bill loaded with a record amount of earmarks, including his bridge project in his district.

“How do you explain to voters a $230 million bridge to nowhere?” Ms. Northup asked. Mr. Young, who has been chairman of the Transportation Committee since 2001, did not respond to interview requests.

A few weeks before the end of his re-election campaign, Senator Conrad Burns, Republican of Montana, issued an unusual news release. He added up all the earmark projects he had delivered to his state, boasting of bringing home $2 billion to a state with fewer than a million people.

Montana, Mr. Burns said, had been awarded a huge range of federal projects, from $597,000 for the Montana Sheep Institute to $8 million to encourage private space travel.

“That money is going to be spent somewhere,” Mr. Burns said in a debate at Montana State University, where the Burns Technology Center is named for him. “I want Montanans to get first share.”

Mr. Burns, a three-term senator who was considered one of the Senate’s most vulnerable incumbents, lost by about 3,000 votes.

“These vulnerables were literally screaming at the top of their lungs about what they’ve been able to deliver,” said Steve Ellis, a vice president at Taxpayers for Common Sense, a budget watchdog group.

Skip to next paragraphRepresentative Mike Sodrel, Republican of Indiana, was put on an influential transportation committee two years ago specifically so he could increase the amount of financing for his swing district, he said in a news release.

For Mr. Sodrel’s district, it paid off. He boasted that he had been able to increase transportation spending there by $220 million, or 37 percent, from the previous spending bill. Mr. Sodrel still lost his seat in November.

There were several races in which the ability to bring home hundreds of federal projects might have made enough of a difference to withstand a Democratic tide.

Representative Deborah Pryce of Ohio, the fourth-ranking Republican in the House, issued dozens of news releases over the last 18 months boasting of the projects she brought home to a district that is considered evenly divided between the two parties.

There was $2.27 million to convert a mountain of garbage into a green energy center, $1.1 million to help keep residents of a fast-growing suburb from having to pay more in user fees for a new sewage system, and the latest installment in $2.7 million in federal disbursements to “evaluate freeze-dried berries for their ability to inhibit cancer.”

In a spending bill that never passed the most recent session of Congress, Ms. Pryce’s district stood to get the largest single earmark in Ohio — $1.75 million for a health research institute. In total, the Columbus area lined up about $4.5 million in special money.

By comparison, Portland, Ore. — a similar-sized metropolitan area with no contested Congressional seats — was to receive $625,000 in earmarks.

Ms. Pryce won by barely a thousand votes.

But she was in some ways an exception this year. Several Republican incumbents who tried a similar strategy of touting their earmarks were unsuccessful. Representative Charles Taylor, an eight-term Republican from North Carolina who lost his race, set up an interactive map on his re-election Web site to show the largess that he had directed to every county in his district.

"Click on the map to see how many of your taxpayer dollars Congressman Taylor has returned to your county,” it said, going on to detail items like $1 million for the creation of an Appalachian wine institute, $2 million to an astronomy center deep in the forests of Transylvania County and $3 million to a local school “to promote healthy childhood development and prevent violence.”

Mr. Taylor was chairman of the appropriations panel on the interior and environment, making him a spending “cardinal” in the House. His position may have led him to be caught off guard, said Mr. Ellis said.

“I think being an appropriator makes people lazy,” Mr. Ellis said. “They think they don’t have to do all the other important things for their district. It makes them feel bulletproof — ‘The voters wouldn’t be so stupid as to vote me out of office.’ ”

Mr. Taylor, who refused interview requests, lost his seat to Heath Shuler, who made excessive federal spending one of his campaign themes.

While people who oppose earmarks saw last month’s election as a rejection of the growing volume of special projects, others say that is the wrong way to interpret the results.

“Bringing federal projects home to a district helps an incumbent — period,” said Carl Forti, a spokesman for the National Republican Campaign Committee. “Jeff Flake is totally misreading the results.”

He said Mr. Taylor and another member of the Appropriations Committee, Don Sherwood, Republican of Pennsylvania, had lost because of personal problems. Ms. Northup, he said, “was just in a bad district — it’s always been tight.”

He attributed Indiana’s three losses to poorly run campaigns.

But Mr. Flake cited his own state as proof that that pork does not ensure re-election. A fellow Arizona Republican member who had embraced earmarks, Representative J. D. Hayworth, lost his seat.

“In the end, the voters saw through it,” Mr. Flake said.

Mr. Forti attributed Mr. Hayworth’s loss to running a single-issue campaign, against immigration.

Still, Mr. Flake cites his own experience to back his point. Two years ago, Mr. Flake drew a strong opponent in the primary who rounded up several mayors in his district and made an issue of his refusal to tag earmarks for the home district.

Mr. Flake still won. This year, he was unopposed.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Anne’s Overreaching: Blogging Between the Quotes

"There's always a lot to learn about different parts of the state"

Specifically, conservative Republicans abhor RINO’s and pork barrel spending.

Bill Stone, a prominent Louisville Republican, said he thinks Fletcher will be hard to beat in the primary and that Northup's background could serve as a detriment to her across the state. "If Abraham Lincoln ran as an East Louisville suburbanite, it wouldn't be 100 percent positive even for him," he said. "I don't think it's a statewide political advantage."

I have admired Abraham Lincoln. I have studied Abraham Lincoln. I’ve read the text of his Gettysburg Address. Anne Northup is no Abraham Lincoln.

"As a Republican and as a Kentuckian, I'm answering this call to service because our party and the people all across Kentucky deserve an alternative to the current governor."

She is also answering the call because she is a career politician.

"She's wrong on the issues and wrong on the geography," Larry Forgy said. "She's better known in Floyd County, Indiana, (across the river from Louisville) than she is in Floyd County, Kentucky."

Correct Larry. She is known as a 2006 Congressional loser.

"Anne's going to play really well to the urban areas of the state, and I think Jeff Hoover will play very well to the more rural parts of the state and more outlying parts of the state," Richie Farmer said.

Hoover will play well? Despite right to life refusing to endorse him?

"It's not as though she's starting out cold. She's reasonably well known across the state from her time in Congress," Larry Sabato said. "Ernie Fletcher will create most of her vote for her. There are undoubtedly Republicans who are loyal to Fletcher, but a fair amount of Republicans actually want to win in November."

Yes we do. It’s clear Anne cannot win.

Mutiny on the Fletcher?

Ryan Alessi dissects the Governor’s staff shifting and sudden attention binge.

From the Lexington Herald-Leader:

Faced with two challengers in the GOP primary now, Gov. Ernie Fletcher and his chief backers responded last week with an aggressive effort to snare Republicans' endorsements and expressed frustration with those who support his opponents. It was, to date, the most tangible sign of Fletcher's resolve to stave off a mutiny within the GOP.

"I've talked to a few friends who have gotten phone calls in the last week," said J. Todd Inman, an Owensboro Republican. "It's amazing that it didn't seem like there was a campaign in existence until a week ago, when a formidable opponent emerged."

Now it seems there's a mad scurry to get people's names on a piece of paper," he said, noting that endorsements don't always translate into votes. "That's the reason why we have secret ballots."

Good From the RINO?

Anne Northup good for Governor Fletcher? Vere Loqui highlights Northup’s November loss. He also criticizes her running mate and her supposed strength. However, he also chimes the familiar tunes of the anti-Fletcher media and the vast-McConnell wing conspiracy.

From Vere Loqui:

Much of the speculation over the Republican nomination for governor in Kentucky has centered on the threat Anne Northup poses to Gov. Ernie Fletcher's reelection. But Northup's candidacy is not a threat to the Fletcher administration; it's an opportunity. Ryan Alessi's article today, titled, "Fletcher Moves to Stop Mutiny," has a slightly negative slant on Fletcher, portraying the Fletcher campaign in a defensive posture.

Some national political wags are even saying the race is Northup's to lose. This is a mistaken assessment. Here's why: First, Northup is overrated. Although she's a competent campaigner, smart and determined, and she is from Jefferson County, the most populous county in the state, she apparently has little campaign apparatus outside the county. Larry Forgy is right: more people know Anne Northup "in Floyd County, Tennessee than in Floyd County, Kentucky."

In addition, some analysts are forgetting she lost there. Her chances to build an organization were dealt a blow recently when Republican legislators began lining up for Fletcher in numbers that must have surprised even Fletcher supporters. This certainly must have surprised Northup's campaign, which was probably expecting just the opposite. It was Northup's Bay of Pigs. Most of these commitments came from the Senate, but there would have been more from the House had not Jeff Hoover (R-Jamestown), Northup's running mate, been Minority Floor Leader there. Hoover's leadership position in the House will help the campaign's success outside Louisville, but most of that help will be in the fact that some support for Fletcher will be neutralized rather than that Hoover will get the necessary support from members.

But the election of Stan Lee (R-Lexington) to minority whip has to be seen not only as an indication of dissatisfaction with Hoover's get-along-with-the-Democrats approach that has characterized his tenure, but proof that there is a willingness among members to openly buck his leadership. This can't bode well for Northup. Second, Fletcher is underrated. He is the sitting governor after all. The power of his position was on display in the recent commitments the governor received from lawmakers and county judge-executives. In addition, Fletcher's chief activity over the last few months has been announcing projects county to county. Local officials don't forget such things. So if it is true that Fletcher's chances are better against Northup than the analyst's think, what is it that makes Northup's candidacy good for the governor's prospects?

First, attention. One of the problems Fletcher has had during his administration is the poor communication of his accomplishments. The Fletcher administration would probably say that this is due to an anti-Fletcher media, and this is probably at least partly true. The governor has not exactly gotten good breaks while in office either. But the Fletcher administration seems to keep its spokesmen on a short leash, and this hasn't helped. The Fletcher administration needs a Tony Snow--bad. The fact that Fletcher now is in a position of having to get out and campaign early is placing some much needed pressure on getting its message out.

The Governor's chief of staff, Stan Cave is the best spokesperson the administration has, but his adminstrative duties obviously place limits on what he has been able to do. The Northup candidacy has forced the administration into a position in which it must deploy Cave. Cave is not known to suffer fools glady, particularly those he feels inhabit the media. But Cave is everything Fletcher is not. Fletcher is not a fighter (despite his military background). Cave is. The sooner he is out with Larry Forgy battling for the administration, the better off it will be. The only time Fletcher has made the news over the past year is in regard to the hiring investigation. Northup's challenge to Fletcher will force the administration into changing that sooner than it otherwise would have.

The second reason the Northup candidacy helps is that it could provide the Fletcher administration with a victory it needs to shore up the public image of a less than competent administration that has developed over the past couple of years. Fletcher does not wield power very well. He doesn't understand the mystique of the governor's office. He comes out of his hospital room after an illness last year in his hospital pajamas. No governor who the importance of a public persona would address the cameras in his pajamas. No one should have seen Fletcher during that time. While he is seen when he shouldn't be, he often isn't seen when he should be.

When the Comair flight crashed at Bluegrass field last summer, the governor should have been on the spot giving a speech the next day putting the tragedy in perspective, much as Reagan did after the first shuttle crash--even if he had to fly back from Europe to do it. Instead, little was seen of him. These tendencies have caused a crisis of confidence among many people in Fletcher's leadership. But this perception could be changed if he is able to beat a viable opponent in the primary. Victories inspire confidence, and victories have been few and far between during Fletcher' tenure.

The failure to get Larry Forgy on the Republican state executive committee last year, for example, hurt--less because Forgy didn't make it than because it contributed to the perception that Fletcher is weak. It probably shouldn't have been attempted in the first place unless it was a sure thing. A victory over Northup, however, would provide Fletcher not only with a victory over Northup, but a victory over Sen. Mitch McConnell, who is said to run the state party, and is perceived to be invincible. McConnell is clearly behind Northup, even though he claims to be neutral in the primary.

Fletcher has been manhandled by McConnell's minions (such as Jack Richardson, head of the Jefferson County Republican Party). A Fletcher victory against Northup would change all that. If Fletcher is successful against Northup, he has an important victory in his pocket as he enters the general election--and he will have slain a much larger dragon than any he will face in the general election. If he can beat McConnell, he will have achieved something no Democrat has been able to accomplish so far. Most importantly, he will have changed public perception, which has always been his chief problem.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Bunning’s Bunny

Endorsements are like dessert.

They are nice. They are not necessary.

The Good, the Bad, and The Nugly

The Wolf’s Den rates our gubernatorial candidates. I completely agree.

THE GOOD: Billy Harper, Businessman

If anyone embodies the American Dream it is Billy Harper. He started out being born and raised on a farm in Western Kentucky. He got himself educated and worked hard until, in 1980, he formed his own company: Harper Industries. Today Harper Industries has seven construction subsidiaries in Kentucky, Tennessee and Texas and construction sites in twenty states. Not too shabby for a farm boy from Paducah.

Of course, given his background and rise to prominence, one would expect the main message of his campaign would be education. After all education is what got him to where he is today. He has said what we have all known for a long time: the Kentucky education system basically sucks rocks! It is upsetting to know that our fourth graders are severely lacking in basic mathematic abilities. (Could be possible that the cause might be their teachers are more interested in the NEA mathematics than they are in fourth grade mathematics.) Harper wants more accountability in the school systems and, heres one that wont go over very big with the NEA, require every high school to show its graduates have necessary skills and knowledge for the workplace and for success on the job.

He is campaigning on more than one issue. He, as a business man, doesn't like the Alternative Minimum Tax which was approved in 2005 as part of Governor Fletcher tax code change. The calculation used was designed to take revenue from businesses whether they showed a profit or not. This has hurt many small businesses in Kentucky forcing many of them to close. (On the positive side, it has put $190 to $200 million into the state coffers which obviously has made the Demobats very happy.) On the other hand the thing that I admire about Billy Harper is his no-nonsense approach. When he found out about Ms. Northup announcing her candidacy for governor, he issued this statement on his website, Harper for Governor:

“Former Congresswoman Anne Northup’s entrance into the race for Governor highlights the need for change in ‘politics as usual.’ The 2006 election results, nationally and here in Kentucky, reflected that need for change. Pork spending, in Washington D.C. and in Frankfort, has grown too rampant even with a Republican Governor and a Federal Republican Congress.

Politicians in Frankfort and Washington just don’t get it. If you’re okay with that, there are plenty of career politicians to choose from. But if you’re not, I’m the only candidate talking about the need to take the money out of pork and put it into schools and tax cuts. We’re focused on education and on repealing the egregious Alternative Minimum Tax. This state needs strong schools, job growth and a fair tax system. Kentucky can do better. With me as Governor—together, we will.

He's so right. Politicians just dont get it. His only drawback will be lack of name recognition and experience. Because of those two factors, the WOLF's DEN is gonna give him a rating of "8".

THE BAD: Ernie Fletcher, Governor of Kentucky

When they write the book on how not too keep campaign promises, Gov. Fletcher will probably have at least one if not more chapters dedicated to him. His predessor, Paul Patton, had to leave office in disgrace over a sex scandal. When Fletcher launched his campaign he assured voters that :"You won't see those kind of scandals in a Fletcher-Spence administration". Ok, ok, you caught me! We didn't see any sex scandals in the Fletcher administration, but we did have scandals. They involved a little Demobat hunting in the state goverment. Some of Fletcher's top cabinet heads were accused of firing state employees because of their political beliefs.

Now you all know that I'm a transplant. I cut my political teeth in Chicago during the Richard J. Daley years. As you can well imagine, it came as quite a shock to me to find a place where it is actually against the law to fire a state worker because he/she was of the "wrong party". As I said before the two criteria for working for the City of Chicago were that a). you had to be a registered Demobat, and b). an ardent support of Mayor Daley. Any Republican caught working for the City of Chicago during the Daley years would have been fired, dumped into the trunk of a car, and driven to the city border or a Republican town. Here in Kentucky, however, we have the Merit System which, in effect, says that what Gov. Ernie's cronies did was illegal, and not nice.

A grand jury investigation ensued, indictments were handed out and they were all quashed when Gov. Ernie used his gubenatorial powers and pardoned those indicted. The Kentucky State Supreme Court upheld his right to pardon and Gov. Ernie cut a deal with the Demobat Kentucky Attorney General to get himself off the hook.

Now in light of the scandal he caused you would have thunk that ol' Gov. Ernie would have followed the path of his predecessor, Gov. Patton, and just gone home. I do have to begrudgingly give former Gov. Patton some credit. When he realized he would be a liability to his party, he choose not to run for re-election. Gov. Ernie, however, seems to think that all the good things he's done for Kentucky would outweigh one bad thing. Apparently he failed to get the 2006 memo from the American public that says that scandals will not be tolerated anymore. Add this to the fact that his approval rating is, according to SurveyUSA, at 31% which makes him the governor with the lowest approval rating in the country, the WOLF's DEN gives him a solid "3".

THE UGLY: Anne Northup, professional politician

Ok, ok before I start hearing from Northup supporters, when I say the ugly I am NOT referring to her looks!!!! I put her in the ugly category because she is a RHINO and a professional politician.

Ms. Northup has been a professional politician since she was first elected to the Kentucky General Assembly in 1987. She served in the House of Representatives from 1997-2007, representing the 3rd Congressional District, until she lost her seat in the great Demobat seizure of power in 2006. Her claim to fame in those ten years is that she voted pretty much along party lines. She voted to increase the size of goverment, voted for any and all pork attached to key bills, and was known for "bringing home the bacon" many times for her district.

Being part of the Republican establishment for the past ten years is what actually led to her defeat. She was among the many Republicans who lost sight of what we really are and what we really stood for. Now she wants to be governor. Why? Well, as prominent Republican Bill Stone was quoted as saying in the Courier-General, its because she "loves public service and has a very hard time sitting on the sidelines." That reason would make a great reason to vote for her, right? It's not that she wants to do good for the state of Kentucky, its because she wants back into the limelight again.

So where does she stand on the issues? Here are some highlites courtesy of the Louisville Courier-Journal: "Opposes a statewide smoking ban, although she called herself an anti-smoking activist. Explained her early vote against the tobacco buyout, saying she wanted companies to shoulder all of the payments. She said she ultimately voted for the buyout with the changes she wanted. Defended her support of background checks at gun shows, saying instant checks do not hamper gun sales. Said she doesn’t know much about a pending bill to require middle school-age girls to receive a cervical cancer vaccine, but “I would probably be against it". Real nice safe issues.

She seems at this point to simply condemn Gov. Ernie for his scandals and muddy the waters with unfounded accusations of her own. Other than that one would be hard pressed to find what her political stands are on any issues facing Kentucky. She seems to have adopted the Demobat strategy of "shooting the messenger, not the message". A true professional politician!!! There isn't much left I can say about her except the WOLF's DEN gives her a generous "5" rating.Add it all up and you can see Billy Harper would be the best candidate for the Republican party in Kentucky. With the entrance of Northup, however, Harper's candidacy will be reduced to a David v. 2 Goliathes fight. For him to win against Fletcher and Northup the Harperites will have to make sure they yell louder and clearer than anyone else in the crowd. I don't know if they can pull this one off, but I guarantee this is gonna make this here Kentucky gubenatorial race something interesting to watch.

Coalition Anti-Fletcher

From the Conservative Edge:

The key to beating Fletcher? Putting together, or retaining a coalition of Fletcher critics

To understand the dynamics of how to put together a coalition of Fletcher critics, you have to have an understanding of the various Republican groups that oppose Governor Fletcher. Anyone looking to unseat the Governor will have to bring these groups together, and add more to their ranks. Conversely, Governor Fletcher may have to work to break up that coalition and win defectors to his banner.

The analysis starts in Louisville, the home of the largest group of Fletcher critics. Some, like Jack Richardson, Steve Pence and Ted Jackson have played a critical role in undermining the Governor. Both Jackson and Richardson have close ties to Anne Northup and Mitch McConnell. While Pence was McConnell’s hand picked second choice to run with Fletcher in 2003. (McConnell’s first choice, Hunter Bates, was disqualified from running).

Within that Louisville group, there are at least four sub groups. Those who are loyal McConnell supporters. Those who want gambling for the Derby city. Those who want more state money brought into Louisville, and those who are disappointed in the Governor for the merit hiring scandal. In some instances, certain individuals may belong to all four camps.

More than likely, the McConnell faction will remain loyal to Mitch, and hence loyal to Northup. The gambling faction may be up for grabs as none of the three current GOP candidates has publicly supported gambling. Although, it’s possible that Northup’s stance is a subterfuge. Polls clearly indicate that the majority of Republicans are against gambling, and Northup may not want to alienate them at this point.

Northup herself may fall into the third category. Our sources tell us that Northup was heavily involved in trying to get the Governor to use most of the state’s transportation dollars for Louisville’s two big bridge projects. According to the source, try as he might, Governor Fletcher couldn’t appease the Louisville contingent with anything less than full funding for the bridges. That move would have left the cupboard bare for the rest of the state.

This group represents a chance for Governor Fletcher’s to peel away supporters of Northup. Not necessarily those supporters in Louisville, but other Northup supporters thoughout the state, that may be unaware of the money grab made by Louisville with pressure from Northup. It would be hard for elected officials to explain to their constituents why they supported a candidate who attempted to siphon off state money from their communities.

Finally, there are those Republicans who are sorely disappointed in the Governor for the merit hiring scandal. They may agree that the Governor did nothing wrong criminally, but believe that he failed them by not changing the culture he promised to change. Within that group is another sub group. Those Republicans who were hurt financially by the Governor’s actions.

Governor Fletcher has a chance to regain supporters from the disappointed Republicans. But he stands little chance of regaining the support of those whom have been hurt financially.

Outside of Louisville, there are several sub categories of Fletcher detractors. Most of the groups mirror the Louisville groups. Those who are loyal to McConnell, those who want gambling, although not necessarily just for Louisville, and those who are disappointed in the Governor,( and it’s sub group).

But there are other groups. Those include many Republicans who were rubbed the wrong way by Fletcher in the 2003 campaign. In fact, Louisville may have the some of those as well. During the 2003 campaign, Fletcher’s people were dubbed “the Armani gang” by rival republican campaigns. Some of Fletcher’s people were arrogant, and treated others with disrespect. The fact the Fletcher is somewhat aloof, did not help matters.

That arrogance continued in office, and continued to damage the Governor. That alone may have been the single biggest factor contributing to the Governor finding himself isolated once the merit hiring scandal began. Many of those Republicans have returned to the Governor’s fold, but the resentment still lingers.

For Republican challengers to the Governor, this last group may represent the single best opportunity to break up his coalition. Unfortunately, attacking the Governor as a campaign theme, is probably the wrong way to go about it. Billy Harper has been the most effective at it.

So for the GOP primary, the issue is, who can put together the biggest coalition. Keep in mind that some in the GOP are not Fletcher critics. The size of that contingent has yet to be determined. For the challengers, they will have to determine if the contingent is big enough to fight over, and if so, how to make inroads into that demographic, while cobbling together a sizeable contingent of Fletcher critics. It may be tough to do both, as Northup should be learning by now. You simply cannot win over Fletcher supporters by basing your entire campaign on trashing him.

Come May, we will find out if Fletcher was able to hold his coalition together, or if Northup was able to build or retain a large enough coalition of Fletcher critics sufficient to swamp his supporters, or if Billy Harper can wait in the stands and pick up the pieces.
Understanding the dynamics of Fletcher supporters is another column for another day.

Working Your Tax Dollars

Cities have to spend money. However, this is ridiculous:
As baby boomers age and perhaps lose the ability or inclination to drive, the Transit Authority of River City is hoping to give them a lift.

Because some of those people have never used public transit, TARC has developed a "travel-training" program.

TARC and the local chapter of AARP have created a 12-minute video at a cost of $20,000. It covers how to get on and off a bus, where to sit, how to transfer and how to read schedules.

When attempting a new activity, instruction is important.

There is a method for stepping onto a bus? You wait for the doors to open and ascend two steps. You sit where space is available. If you cannot read by age 65, a video will not help.

Taking Issue…

With another blogger, who called the graphic below “intellectually dishonest.”
How? The third district is property of Yarmuth.

Anne Northup lost.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Stop Defending Slick Ernie

Governor Fletcher was the innocent target of a partisan attack.

Repeatedly, this excuse has answered the phrase “merit scandal.” Governor Fletcher’s enemies have exploded a minor incident for their own selfish political reasons. This may be a perfectly valid explanation.

However, I have heard it. Wasn’t this the Democrats’ excuse?

During the impeachment of President Clinton, weren’t we the vindictive, selfish party? Weren’t we exploding a personal matter for partisan purposes? Weren’t we exploiting a trivial matter and recklessly polarizing the country?

The retort to this misguided anger remains the same. Governor Fletcher as President Clinton committed a wrong. Not withstanding circumstance or situation, these leaders perpetrated a fraud upon the public. President Clinton’s sexual promiscuity may have been the backdrop, yet that was irrelevant. The President lied. Governor Fletcher may have been attempting good. However, ethically, he was wrong.

Amidst partisan screams, the truth existed. Despite today’s excuses, the truth remains. We need not forget the impeachment’s lessons. We need to shed the excuses and recognize the obvious… Governor Fletcher was wrong.

Conservative Edge Scorches Northup

Anne Northup? What were they thinking?
I have to wonder what the Republicans were thinking when they talked Anne Northup into running for Governor. Her list of negatives is high, yet they talk about Fletcher's electability problems.

For Northup you have to start with the thumping she and the rest of the Congressional Republicans took in 2006. That Congress bore the imprint of being ethically corrupt, big spenders. Northup was thrown out on her ears by the 3rd district congressional voters. That's hardly a good imprint to bring to a Governor's race, when you are accusing the Governor of ethical short comings.

Then, as the Herald-Leader pointed out, Northup marched in lockstep with President Bush on Iraq. In case people hadn't noticed, the Iraq war isn't popular. To think that Northup can escape that problem was naive, as the Herald-Leader aptly demonstrated today.

Hailing from Louisville has never been a good start for any gubernatorial candidate. Just ask Bruce Lunsford or Rebecca Jackson. Add to that, the absolutely horrible track record in elections for Louisville Republicans in recent years, and the head scratching becomes more intense.

Now factor in Northup's abysmal record on 2nd amendment rights, and her siding with Big Tobacco over tobacco farmer's and you begin to see a candidate who is out of touch with the average Kentuckian. It's hard to imagine a candidate who does not represent the majority of Kentuckians outside of Louisville, anymore than Anne Northup.

In addition, being a surrogate for Mitch McConnell is not the advantage that conventional wisdom says is true. Many rank and file Republicans are growing more resentful of the Senator each day. His abandonment of Fletcher, exacerbates the hard feelings.

Finally, the stated reason that Republicans have turned on Fletcher and turned to Northup is because they say that Fletcher can't get elected. You have to wonder: Ernie can't get elected but Anne can? What were they thinking?

Northup/Hoover bungle initial task
Remember that Anne Northup and Jeff Hoover have a combined zero years of experience running any state level executive branch of government. But today, they asked the voters of Kentucky to entrust them with the 30,000 employee strong Kentucky state government.

Yet, they were unable to pull off the simple administrative task of filing their election papers without a screw up. Here's how the Herald-Leader reported it:

But when turning in their papers to the Secretary of State’s office, neither Northup nor Hoover had a checkbook.

Northup looked around to her family, who was with her, then her eyes got big when she remembered her Christmas money from her mother.

She and her husband, Woody, each pulled out the $200 in cash that her mother gave them for Christmas.

“I’ll throw in $100,” Hoover added.

From the post below, it's obvious that Leland and I disagree about this. And were it not for the fact that Northup is trying to replace the first Republican Governor in 30 years, who has a solid track record of accomplishment as the state's chief executive, I might give Northup and Hoover a pass as well. But, I will expect perfection from Northup, since she is demanding it of Fletcher.

As well, the symbolism of one of the members of the fiscally irresponsible 2004-2006 Congress, having to spend christmas money, and borrow the rest to pay a debt can't be missed. Wasn't that the Congressional Republican's plan for Social Security? Northup/Hoover will have to do far better.

Remember, Anne picked this fight
Anne Northup gave a speech yesterday at her press conference announcing her candidacy for Governor. Unfortunately for Northup, the short speech was long on gaffes. For instance Northup had this to say:

Our states potential is so great, but lacking strong leadership, it will always remain unrealized.

Apparently Anne forgot, that Jeff Hoover is the House Minroty Leader. Which makes him a state leader. So why would Anne pick a weak leader if strong leadership is what is needed? Or was Northup referring to Governor Fletcher as a weak leader? If so, why start your campagin by being negative. Leaders need to cast a positive tone for the followers, not a negative one.

Northup also said this:

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.

Apparently Northup has spent to much time in Washington, D.C. How else to explain the fact that Governor Fletcher has brought numerous new ideas to Kentucky. His medicaid plan is a national model. His new ideas brought tax relief to Kentucky's working poor for the first time in modern history. Kentucky is a top business destination beause of Fletcher, and his foresight on our debt problems has allowed top bond companies to lower the cost of financing the state's construction. I guess someone who has spent to much time in Washington D.C. would not be aware of those things.

As well, Hoover was sought out by the Fletcher team. Unfortunately he routinely broke standing meeting with the Governor's key staff members. You can't build a coalition with people or bounce new ideas off them, if they cancel meetings. Someone who hadn't been in D.C. to much might know that.

Northup also had this little nugget:

Together, we are answering the call to service, and offering our vision of a thriving and prosperous Kentucky.

Had Anne not spent so much time in D.C., she might have known that Kentucky is thriving and prosperous. Our unemplyment is low. More Kentuckians then ever are Foley, the wasteful, ethically challenged 2004-2006 Congress, and the Iraq war. The cworking. The state is a top business destination. Governor Fletcher has helped recruit 21st centruy businesses. If Anne can do better than that, she's got a tall order.

Finally, Anne had this to say:

First and foremost, our Republican party must ensure that our standard bearer can be elected this November. Like it or not, the Democrats would love nothing more than to spend June through election day dragging the current Governor's problems through all 120 counties.

I think the Democrats won't enjoy bringing up their abuse of the merit hiring system for the past 30 years, as much as they will enjoy dragging Anne through Tom Delay, Mark harges against Governor Fletcher were dismissed with prejudice. The Democrats can't bring up the merit hiring system without running into Paul Patton, John Y. Brown, Steve Beshear and others. They can bring up the last Congress with impunity. Northup might have known this if she had not been spending so much time in D.C.

Northup must have been spent to much time in Washington D.C.
During her press conference yesterday, Anne Northup had this to say about Governor Fletcher:

Jeff Hoover and I will bring the openness and honesty to state government that Kentuckians were promised four years ago.

Northup must have been spending to much time in Washington D.C. to notice that citizens were not thrilled with her and the rest of the GOP lead Congress. But we are curious by what Northup means when she says she will bring "openness and honesty" to state government.

Does she mean the type of openness that she and her Congressional colleagues practiced in the House. Like preventing the Democrats from having the opportunity to offer amendments to legislation. Or the openness from her colleagues on Mark Foley. Maybe Northup means the honesty that was practiced by she and her Republican colleagues that kept votes on legislation open, while Republicans strong armed members until they changed their votes.

Perhaps by openness and honesty, Northup is refering to the GOP practice of slipping earmarks into spending bills in the wee hours of the morning so no one would notice. Or maybe it was the openness and honesty of going on "trade junkets" to foregin countries all paid for by lobbyists. Maybe Northup means the "K street" project.

Or perhaps Anne Northup spent to much time in Washington D.C. to realize that Kentuckians aren't as stupid as she might have thought.

Memo to Northup/Hoover- ignore the new media at your own peril
In yet another sign that Anne Northup and Jeff Hoover are not prepared to take the helm of state government, the two failed to send press releases about their candidacy to members of Kentucky's new media. We would count this as arrogant, inasmuch as Northup is a McConnell surrogate, but considering her openeing gaffe, I consdier it to be incompetent.

Governor Fletcher has been aware of and utilized Kentucky's new media almost from it's inception. Billy Harper was savvy enough to grant an interview to CE, and his campaign manager sent out e-mails and set up contacts with members of Kentucky's new media.

The fact that Northup/Hoover failed to do so shows that they are way behind the curve regarding infomration dissemination. And Kentucky desn't need leaders who are way behind the curve. Northup/Hoover will have to do alot better real fast.

Hey Billy… Start Talking

Thus far, I have hesitated to criticize Billy Harper. As opposed to ignoring the primary or relying on blogs to mindlessly promote him, he has been releasing policy statements.

However, as I have researched his candidacy, I have become concerned with his ambiguous statements on KERA. Despite his recent radio interview and press release, his position requires clarification.

I admire Harper’s campaigning. With that stated, he is running for Governor. This warrants a clear, bold, outlined stance on the future of Kentucky education.

Jail Bating

The residents of Kenton County are opposed to a new jail. They have been protesting for weeks. They have explored and debated alternate sites and the merits of even building the jail. The bar hotel is clearly unwanted. However, are the residents really this desperate?
Opponents of a planned Kenton County jail near Independence are looking for help from Gov. Ernie Fletcher, going so far as to say they will act as political "ground troops" for his re-election effort if he offers his assistance.

In a letter that was overnighted to Fletcher's office on Tuesday, Independence attorney and jail opposition organizer Eric Deters told the governor that jail opponents were willing to canvass in Fletcher's next campaign if he offers his help in finding an alternative location for the jail. "The purpose of this letter is to ask for your intervention," Deters wrote. "You can have thousands of grateful citizens prepared to walk door to door for you."

In the letter to Fletcher, Deters said he has the signatures of 2,500 residents who are willing to work for his campaign.
Eric Deters is clearly warped. How else can one explain his willingness to prostitute thousands for a jail? He is irrationally pandering, providing the perfect opportunity for another Fletcher sponsored scandal. No, the inmates are not running the asylum. Without them, we would not need one.

I understand the objections of Kenton County’s citizens. Jails inhabit land and house criminals. They are not a welcome addition. However, trading in politics for governance? There is a reason those two roads should never intersect.

Objection! You’re Endorsing Him?

Once indicted Governor garners judicial support.
From the Bowling Green Daily News:

Southcentral Kentucky Republican judge-executives are pooling their support for the re-election of Gov. Ernie Fletcher and calling on others to join them.

A support letter was issued Tuesday - a day before Fletcher's visit to Bowling Green - and was signed by 10 county judge-executives, including those in Allen, Barren, Butler, Edmonson, Simpson and Warren counties.

Fletcher will be at the Carroll Knicely Conference Center at 5 p.m. today for a town hall meeting to get public input on spending the state's budget surplus.

"It's something some of us have been talking about for a number of weeks," said Simpson County Judge-Executive Jim Henderson. "The governor is coming to Bowling Green today so we wanted to get it together by the time he was here so he would know he had our support. ... I realize it's getting close to the filing time ... and we wanted to make sure other candidates knew he had our support."

Henderson said that last week three northern Kentucky Republican judge-executives issued their support of the governor. "I don't think it's anything unusual for seated judge-executives to issue support for an incumbent governor of their party," Henderson said.

The race for governor is getting more crowded on both sides of the aisle. Former Louisville Congresswoman Anne Northrup said she would join the Republican race that already includes Paducah businessman Billy Harper.

House Speaker Jody Richards, D-Bowling Green, is mulling a run in the primary that includes former Lt. Gov. Steve Beshear, state Treasurer Jonathan Miller and Otis Hensley Jr., of Harlan and possibly former Lt. Gov. Steve Henry.

Judge-executives supporting Fletcher say that he kept his word in creating economic opportunities for the state and eliminated waste in government, saving taxpayers money. They are also touting the money spent on roads and infrastructure in southcentral Kentucky. During that time, the region also saw Democratic leadership from Richards and Rob Wilkey of Scottsville and previously Roger Thomas of Smiths Grove, who worked to garner projects for the area.

"That's not unique to this election cycle," Henderson said of Richards' potential run. "It very well could have been an issue four years ago when he ran. But I'm sure that complicates things for some folks."

Henderson said the judge-executives felt compelled to support Fletcher because he has been good to southcentral Kentucky and recognizes "that we play an important part in the state."

While the region in earlier years may have been considered mostly Democrat, the 10 counties in the Barren River Area Development District now boast that eight of the 10 county judge-executives are Republican, something Henderson says is unusual. As for criticism that Fletcher won't have a good showing in the election because of past problems, including the hiring scandal, Henderson is still confident.

"Certainly I would prefer we had a non-contested primary for an incumbent governor," he said. "But there are a lot of folks who have speculated that a healthy primary could be good for governor, when he emerges as a winner and shows he is strong enough to get elected."

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

The Great Math… Dopes

Anne Northup will win. Anne Northup will win. All the blogs are saying, Anne Northup will win.

However, ask yourself this… how is someone, who couldn’t win in the congressional district with the most Republicans, going to win Republicans statewide?
Further proof available at Kentucky.com in Ryan Alessi's article entitled "OLD 5TH NO LONGER SURE THING FOR GOP"

Typing the Talk

"I’ll repeal the Alternative Minimum Tax and I’ll cut the pork barrel spending," says Billy Harper, local businessman and Republican candidate for Governor, in his new statewide media campaign.

The Harper Campaign released its sixth statewide television advertisement today. The ad, featuring a magician playing a shell game, calls for Frankfort politicians to repeal the Alternative Minimum Tax and cut pork barrel spending.

The Alternative Minimum Tax was first proposed by a Democratic governor and was signed into law by the current governor. The tax is unfairly imposed on both profitable and unprofitable businesses equally. Frankfort politicians are trying to tell the people of Kentucky that they cut their taxes, yet business taxes brought in $100 million in the first quarter and create an economic climate that stunts job growth.

"Politicians in Frankfort are trying to fool you. For example, they try to call this an Alternative Minimum Calculation, but when an individual has to send more of their hard earned money to the government, that’s no calculation, that’s a tax!" said Billy Harper.

Examples of wasteful government pork barrel spending both being proposed and approved by the Governor and the Legislature are multimillion dollar state owned golf courses and luxury hotels all of which could be privatized.

Harper chaired Leadership Kentucky, an association of business leaders from across the state and has also served as chair of the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce. More recently, Harper brought business people, teachers, and school administrators together from across the state to help write the Harper Report on education. The report made 52 recommendations to the state that would help improve education for all Kentucky students and today nearly half of those recommendations have been put into effect throughout the state.

Harper is a professional race car driver on the American Drag Racing League. He developed a "Race for Education" program designed to improve attendance among middle school children — and it has. Every participating middle school reports that the number of children in attendance per day has increased from five percent to 50 percent. He also uses his racecar as a teaching tool during career days at the Paducah campus of the University of Kentucky Engineering School.

Please direct questions to the Harper Campaign Headquarters 270-448-0663. Please click the link to view the new ad "Shell Game."

http://www.harperforgovernor.com/multimedia.html

Vast McConnell Wing Conspiracy


In case of Governor Fletcher losing, the Jefferson Review has already spun a conspiracy theory.

However, it apparently doesn't make any difference to the "bootlickers" how honest, decent or hard working Gov. Fletcher is because he not only must endure a political hack job from an Attorney General with a political agenda, but he must also endure a political hack job from the "bootlickers" under Sen. McConnell's influence. It is they that make Gov. Fletcher's job of winning the November general election against a weak and fractured Democrat party the most difficult, and it is they that will set up and orchestrate Ann Northup's primary challenge and probable defeat in November. While Northup may be well liked in Jefferson County, she was defeated in November and will be a very hard sell to grassroots Republicans and conservative Democrats (who any Republican must appeal to) in rural Kentucky.
I want to thank the Jefferson Review for saving us the trouble of having both a primary and a general election. Personally, I’ll wait until the votes are counted.

The Growing List of Dwarves and Snow Fletcher

Lexington Attorney, former Democrat, former Reform candidate, once again Democrat Gatewood Galbraith announced his intention to seek his now party’s nomination for the Governor. Given the events of the previous weeks, this announcement is neither surprising nor noteworthy. With that said, it amplifies the weakening field seeking defeat if they garner victory.

Defeat, unless of course they oppose Governor Ernie Fletcher. While the blogs are buzzing over Anne Northup’s soon to be announced candidacy and Billy Harper is spending, spending, spending… only one blog, has seen fit to announce that they are pro-Fletcher. Meanwhile, his individual supporters are stepping out of their way to ask, “Name one reason not to support Fletcher other than the merit scandal.”


We seriously need a reason besides the merit scandal? I don’t care what the Democrats did for years. I don’t care what Fletcher may or may not have cleaned up while in office, as one blog claims. The Governor disgraced his office. He was indicted for the love of Mike. We need a reason besides the scandal?

How about finding a reason to vote for him at all.
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