Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Hall Assesses Debate, Assails Northup

The hour-long KET live debate went off without a surprise Monday night, giving viewers throughout the Commonwealth a taste of what Republican faithful have witnessed since early January.

Gov. Ernie Fletcher smiled and warmly discussed public policy, from economic development, transportation, health care to education. If he had any worry that his opponents would somehow best him on the tube, he soon discovered things were going to go quite smoothly.

On her first opportunity to speak, ex-Congresswoman Anne Northup gave a deer-in-the-headlights look, uncertain of how to answer Paducah Sun reporter Bill Bartleman's first question about whether she knew anything embarrassing about either of her Republican opponents. Later, Cincinnati Enquirer reporter Patrick Crowley asked another perplexing question of Northup: Name specific highway projects she didn't think the state should be building. But, Northup's toughest time appeared to be putting a smile on her face. For some reason, people tend to vote for candidates they like. Something to consider for the next debate.

Harper kept to his promise of not criticizing his opponents, refusing to take the bait on questions early in the hour-long program relating to Atty. Gen. Greg Stumbo's investigation of the governor. Northup, however, couldn't wait to jump on that one.

Problem is, she said nothing new to add to her claim she's more electable than Fletcher in the general election. If her performance tonight is any indication of her electability as a candidate for governor, Northup failed to measure up.

Numerous times, she refered to her plan for economic development, posted earlier today on her campaign website. That plan amounts to a reiteration of Fletcher initiatives during the past three years of his administration. Only exception is Northup's opposition to the Alternative Minimum Computation, a tax on out-of-state corporations who used to export profits out of Kentucky without paying taxes. Fletcher may well have scored more points had he challenged Northup and Harper on this issue, as Kentucky businesses could be on the spot to pick up the slack, if the AMC is abolished.

The edge of incumbency was quite evident tonight as the incumbent bested his two primary opponents with a warm and confident presentation. The other two opponents will may well wish the television audience was tuned in elsewhere, as they came up short in demonstrating they are ready for prime time.

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