Tuesday, March 27, 2007

KY Pac 2 Excoriates Anne

Let us be up front -- we heartily support Ernie Fletcher's re-election campaign (if that's any great secret). We believe that the policy accomplishments of his administration, made in the face of overwhelming political opposition, have earned him a second term. We also believe that the merit system hiring investigation was overblown, unnecessary and politically motivated.

We are further saddened to see Republicans whom we originally believed to be intelligent and reasonable buying into the partisan allegations made by Greg Stumbo and his accomplices on the stacked grand jury and hanging their opinions on the nails driven by selective leaks by the prosecution and the press' subsequent gobbling them up like emaciated dogs who find a 5-pound pack of ground beef lost by the roadside.

We agree with the Fletcher administration's contention that mistakes were made in the hiring of new state employees to fill vacancies, but there was no criminal intent. Those mistakes were properly dealt with by the firing of those who made them. We also note that none of the indictments was for the improper firing for political purposes of an existing merit system employee with status.

We believe that much of the damage done by the merit system investigation could have been blunted or avoided had this state's top Republican officeholders, officials and unofficial party leaders immediately denounced the investigation and instead turned the mirror on the investigator. That list most certainly includes Sens. Mitch McConnell and Jim Bunning, as well as most of the state's Republican members of the House of Representatives. Had they swiftly defended Fletcher, criticized Stumbo and then flexed a little political muscle, Fletcher would be cruising to renomination and we wouldn't even be having a discussion about a Republican primary. We can give Anne Northup a pass for not originally standing tall for Fletcher, while we hold that against the others.

After all, Northup represented a district that is overwhelmingly Democrat and she knew that she would be in for a tough re-election battle. But there is no excuse for McConnell, et. al, to have left Fletcher hanging. We were wholeheartedly behind Northup in her Congressional re-election campaign and we were saddened when she lost. We want to see Northup back in public service sometime in the future. But we definitely cannot support her candidacy for governor.

Not only do we not endorse her candidacy, we do not even endorse the concept of her challenging the incumbent of her own party. No thinking Republican could have ever imagined that the Democrats would give a Republican administration a free pass, considering that Democrats think that running this state is their birthright and the top two investigative offices were occupied by D's. The press has never seen fit to print the real stories behind the merit system investigation because they don't reflect negatively on the Republican incumbent.

Had there been a Democrat governor, any complaints about hiring practices would have been handled administratively, as they had been for more than four decades since Kentucky's civil service system was established. But because this state has a Democrat attorney general, suddenly administrative actions became criminal misdemeanor indictments. It hasn't helped matters that most of those responsible for the missteps in the Fletcher administration were hired at the behest of the federal delegation.

It's particularly disgusting to hear Northup out on the campaign trail, parroting many of the same things Greg Stumbo has been saying -- the same Greg Stumbo that dropped the charges against Fletcher with prejudice. We applaud Northup for her service in Congress and before that, in the General Assembly.

At another time, she might make an excellent governor. But not now. At a time when she should have been standing behind her former friend and Congressional colleague, she turned her back on him. Doesn't she wonder what will happen at the first sign of trouble if she is elected? Will Jim Bunning defend and support her, or will he desert her the way he did Fletcher?

That's why we say Ernie Fletcher deserves better than he has gotten from his own party -- and why we say that if Fletcher is defeated in the primary, we aren't sure that the Republican Party of Kentucky deserves to win the race in the fall. If we can't support our governor in the eye of the Democrat siege he's been under for two years, we aren't much of a political party. We say we value loyalty and integrity, yet as a party we've shown neither.

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