Thursday, March 1, 2007

Brett Hall Assails Anne, Labels Pence (Liar)

If anyone ever had concerns about Lt. Gov. Steve Pence’s inability to tell the truth, they were validated with his exclusive interview in the Lexington Herald-Leader.

His absurd account of the August 2005 meetings with Gov. Ernie Fletcher on blanket amnesty in the so-called merit hiring investigation can be easily undone due to the fact that there are several witnesses whose recollections run counter to Pence’s.

This is how Pence repays Fletcher, the first governor in memory to make his lieutenant governor relevant by making him a cabinet secretary along with providing an executive staff, including two press aides. Another lesson that in politics no good deed goes unpunished?

The larger question remains: Why did the Anne Northup campaign not wait until a more opportune time to play the Pence card, such as in April when voters were actually paying attention? She plans to drop other endorsements soon, as well. Something a campaign would wait until later for maximum effect. Again, why now?

Answer: A desperate lack of campaign dollars.

Follow the money and you will see that things aren’t going as planned for Northup’s campaign. Fletcher is raising money at a prodigious pace with major fund-raisers across the state. Where is Northup in raising campaign cash? If a recent fund-raiser in Christian County is any indication, she’s in trouble.

Unable to find a local sponsor to host her fund-raiser in the Hopkinsville area, Northup had to hold her event in a bed and breakfast. Price per ticket was a mere $100. Fewer than a couple of dozen attended, including freebies. Not a good sign. Friday night in Shelbyville, a record 325 people paid to hear Republican candidates speak. Similar numbers turned out last weekend in Rockcastle, Oldham, Pulaski, Nelson and other counties where Northup and her entourage were met with roomfuls of Fletcher supporters.

The Franklin County Lincoln Day event nearly two weeks ago was supposed to be a Northup romp, but turned into a completely different direction as Fletcher supporters flooded the room. On top of that, Larry Forgy turned in a virtuoso performance with his keynote speech, energizing the Fletcher crowd to evangelical fervor.

What’s odd is no newspaper is reporting the overwhelming support for Fletcher at this year’s Lincoln Day dinners. From the looks on the Northup crew’s faces, they would just as soon not see this development reported in the news either. The Republican Party in Kentucky is as energized as I’ve ever seen it, and the vast majority is for Fletcher, says one person who has gone to most of the Lincoln Day events this campaign season.

Fletcher supporters dominate while Northup and (Billy) Harper are about even in support from the people who are going to these events I’ve been to, which tends to be a good indication of where the primary voters are right now, adds another who has attended as many Lincoln Day banquets.

What it all adds up to is good news for Fletcher and bad news for both Northup and Harper, according to those who have traveled Kentucky the past 90 days since campaigning began in earnest for governor and the down-ballot constitutional offices.

There is next to no support for Northup outside of Louisville that I have seen, and voter energy is on Fletcher’s side, pure and simple, says a third source. All three GOP veterans say Northup’s message of Ernie can’t win isn’t gaining much traction with Republican faithful. She’s never said once what she would do if elected, and that doesn’t sit well with people I’ve talk with. Eventually, she’ll have to start talking issues.

Given the discouraging signs for Northup, it’s no wonder she and her campaign mentors decided to play the Pence card so early. It may be an act of desperation in hopes of jump-starting her fund-raising and stunting the incumbent’s. The collateral damage is greater intra-party discord that could linger beyond the primary.

What remains to be seen is whether Pence adds any credibility to Northup’s candidacy and her negative messaging. Of course, in order for Pence to give her that edge he would have to have credibility, something he lacks.

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