Thursday, February 1, 2007

Conservative Edge… Still Bludgeoning

Northup badly miscalulated her support

To hear Anne Northup supporters tell it, Anne's 39% number in a recent internal poll against Governor Fletcher's 39%, is great news. The reality is, Anne Northup and Mitch McConnell badly underestimated the desire of rank and file Republicans to have an alternative to Fletcher. Were all the hype surrounding Northup's candidacy true, one would expect Northup to be well over 75%.

According to Northup, Republicans from all over the state were begging her to take on Fletcher. But in reality, only 39% want her. So, Northup and McConnell have divided the party and attacked the first Republican sitting Governor in over 30 years, with the same ferocity of a liberal Democrat or Herald-Leader editor and have little or nothing to show for the effort.

If Northup wins the primary, she better figure out a way to attract enough Democrats to her ticket to make up for all the Fletcher supporters she and Mitch alienated along the way. Then she'll have to figure out how to convince more Democrats to vote for a former member of the GOP congressional team that was thrown out of D.C. last year, with out so much as a "thanks for the memories". Good luck with that.

Bad news for Northup; She is unelectable too

Looking to the future, Anne Northup and Mitch McConnell decided to split the Republican party in Kentucky, publicly criticize the state's first sitting Republican Governor, and campaign against him with an assault that makes the Washington Post attack on George Allen seem tame. To boot, the Northup-McConnell team based their entire campaign on the "non-electability" of Governor Fletcher. All of which causes me to scratch my head in wonder about all the glee coming from the Northup camp over Northup's just released poll that shows that she is unelectable too.

Sure, she may lose by a smaller margin than Governor Fletcher. But, a loss is still a loss. I thought Team Northup would have learned that lesson at the hands of neophyte John Yarmuth. With vision like that, it's no wonder Mitch is the new Senate Minority leader, and Northup has all the time in the world to further divide the GOP.

Northup supporters starting to sound like liberal media

While listening to Rush Limbaugh take the liberal media to task for it's unfair portrayal of the national economy, I was struck by how much Anne Northup's supporters sound like that national liberal media when they discuss Governor Fletcher. Northup's people take every opportunity to downplay Kentucky's economic vitality, and the success of the Fletcher Administration. Take Lt. Gov. Steve Pence for example. Rather than admit that Kentucky's growing economy and Governor Fletcher's reduction of waste in state government, produced a budget surplus, Pence trashed the Governor over a problem largely attributable to the state legislature.

In response to a question about the projected $400 million surplus, here's what Pence had to say: If you view things as everything is a separate pot of money, then you can say, 'Yes, we have an $11 billion debt in the retirement system, but we have a $260 million surplus in the general fund,'" he said. "That is not a very wise way to look at it." That's like telling an individual with more income than monthly bills, that they have do not have extra spending money in their monthly budget, because they owe money on a mortgage. It's an apples to oranges comparison, and not very bright. If Pence were correct he should also have mentioned the state debt for all the bonds that have been issued. Kentucky has far more than $11 billion in debt obligations. But, Pence is not sophisticated enough to know what he is talking about, he just wanted to bash Fletcher with a Democratic talking point.

As well, the KRS problem can't be solved by throwing the budget surplus down that rat hole. The state legislature has created the problem by establishing a defined benefit pension plan instead of a defined contribution plan. Defined benefit plans are bankrupting companies, and now states. If Pence were really concerned about the KRS problem, and not merely wanting to trash the Governor, he should have been using some of his state paid time, to educate himself and lobby the legislature. In addition, when it comes to Ketucky's record employment numbers, Northup supporters throw cold water on it like a New York Times editor throws cold water on an Iraqi military victory.

Despite the fact that more Kentukians then ever are working, and the state unemployment rate fell one point to near full employment of 5.2%, Northup supporters drug out a cold statisitic that Kentucky ranks 42nd out of 50 in the nation on that rate. The fact is, the economy is strong throughout the country. Don't bash Fletcher because every boat has risen. Plus, those cold statisitics don't tell about the type of jobs that Fletcher is recruiting for Kentucky. Companies with 21st century jobs are being attracted to Kentucky's business friendly environment. Even more perplexing is the criticism of Fletcher over the unemployment rates in Appalachia. For the uninformed, Appalachia has always had higher unemployment rates.

The problem for the "old fifth" is that much of the region lacks the infrasturcture necessary to attract business. Companies will locate in areas that have cheap labor and easy access to major transporation routes . That's why rural counties along interstate 65 in west central Kentucky, the Golden Trianle and in Somerset are seeing new businesses locate in their communities. Hazard doesn't have a chance to compete against those areas because it is difficult to get to.

Even more troubling is the fact that the same people criticizing Fletcher for Appalachia's problems are supporting Northup. Ms. Northup directed a tirade at transporation officials last fall, because they refused her demand to divert much needed money for infrastructure improvement in Appalachia to the Louisville bridge projects. Had Northup's tantrum been succesful, the "old fifth" would have been even further behind the unemployment curve. It's sad to see Kenutcky Republicans, who support a person that talks about coalition building, resort to the tactics of the drive by media. Norhtup/Hoover will have to do better.

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