Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Brett Hall Assesses Campaign

Two and a half months out from Primary Day and we still have only a whisper of an idea as to Anne Northup’s positions on the issues.

Granted, she just released a statement on education: little more than a bundle of platitudes stuffed in a No. 10 tomato can.

Everybody can moan about the shortcomings of public education. Some even moan better than others, rhapsodically at times. But, the lion’s share of the problem isn’t money; it’s a culture of hopelessness in many of our remote communities that defies all manner of political panaceas.

Kentucky’s No. 1 education challenge is getting kids to graduate from high school, much less college. Convince parents that their kids ought to stay in school to get a high school diploma, and, as governor of Kentucky, you will have achieved something no other leader has done in two centuries. It is something the current governor understands well and is working toward.

But, I digress. What the ex-congresswoman from Louisville may have learned by now is that there is a lot to learn just to get up to speed in articulating the issues. Kentucky’s governor is expected to know many things and discuss them in maddening detail. People expect that of their chief executive.

Hard work, even for a former member of the U.S. House of Representatives where a person usually makes their bones by concentrating on one or two areas of expertise, such as defense or foreign affairs, or even early childhood development in Appalachia.

It’s no wonder Northup has resisted talking about what she would do if elected, because she probably has had difficulty getting her mind around the abundance and depth of state issues.

Health care, budget, education, military affairs, economic development, environmental protection, the horse racing industry, to name a few. A governor gets asked detailed questions from not only reporters but citizens who often demand answers to questions important to them.

So, when in doubt, it’s easy to see Northup’s natural reaction is to beat up on the governor rather than try to talk about things of which she’s uninformed. It’s not easy running for governor, is it? Just think what it’s like actually being governor. As Richard Pryor once said, Hard as college algebra!

While Northup studies up on issues, Gov. Ernie Fletcher’s campaign shifts into a higher gear with the launching of a TV ad campaign. Don’t know details of the media buy, but it’s apparent that with the Fletcher-Rudolph campaign going up on TV and no plans for Northup-Hoover to do the same, there’ll be an opportunity for the incumbent to build momentum.

From the looks of things, Fletcher will drive a positive message geared to assure Republican voters that the Fletcher-Rudolph team is moving in the right direction with tangible results to show for the past three and a half years. Got to think that their record on health care, the budget and economic development will be used as stand-out examples.

In traveling the past several weeks on the Lincoln Day Dinner circuit, one thing’s certain: there’s a solidifying of Fletcher support throughout Kentucky. Grass-roots efforts of the past 18 months appear to have paid off. This is something, oddly enough, the news media has paid little attention to and it shows in their utter surprise and disbelief in the outpouring of support and affection the governor receives in his visits outside of Frankfort.

Only two reporters, Ronnie Ellis of the Glasgow Daily Times and Ryan Alessi of the Lexington Herald-Leader, have focused on Fletcher’s aggressive schedule strategy that began in September 2005. His goal was to visit every one of Kentucky’s 120 counties by the end of his second year in office. He would have made it, had it not been for mid-December icy weather.

He kept up a regimen of at least three days on the road each week until Fletcher’s health took him out nearly a year ago. Getting back on schedule in June, he ramped up quicker than anyone would have guessed and didn’t look back. Today, the governor keeps a schedule of up to five days a week outside the office, meeting local officials and citizens across the commonwealth. The accumulation of these visits has built a reservoir of goodwill for Fletcher. It goes without saying.

But, not to belabor a point ad nauseum, one wonders why very limited attention has been paid to the governor’s strenuous schedule as well as the depth of Fletcher support throughout the state.

The contrasts between the two candidates: Fletcher and Northup remain distinct, stubbornly so, as the incumbent demonstrates a significant depth of knowledge on the affairs of state and an ease in communicating his plans. While his challenger, on the other hand, struggles to find her message this late in the campaign.

1 comment:

big butt said...

Her message is, "he can't win".

Now that's quite original don't you think?

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