Thursday, May 10, 2007

Gubernatorial Debate Analyzed

From OSI Speaks:

Kentucky Republican gubernatorial candidates, Anne Northup, Ernie Fletcher and Billy Harper, went on the offensive during their second and last televised debate. Watch the KET video debate last night and share your thoughts with us. You can also read Ryan Alessi's piece and Joe Gerth's excellent report on the debate. In the debate, Fletcher touted his accomplishments, Northup (sometimes joined by Harper) demurred. Northup accused Fletcher of presenting an "embellished record" in campaign ads and speeches and of "... perfect example[s] of not having a personal ethical standard".

When Harper and Northup accused Fletcher's 2005 tax plan (the Alternative MAXIMUM Tax -- according to Billy Harper!) of raising taxes on small businesses, cigarettes, alcohol and cable television, Fletcher fired back and noted that Northup voted for (the largest tax increase in Kentucky history, according to Fletcher) as a part of the 1990 Kentucky Education Reform Act (KERA).

Billy Harper repeated his assertion of a need for greater leadership from the governor's office -- accusing the Governor of ignoring people but "trotting around the state" during an election -- and criticized Fletcher's record on taxes, noting that he signed off on $4 billion in debt over his term -- more than any governor in state history!

Continuing, Harper mentioned that he is the only candidate to sign the Washington-based conservative group -- Americans for Tax Reform's -- no tax pledge, which Fletcher said he signed in the past and has honored (though the group, Americans for Tax Reform, found that he broke the pledge and added him to its "Hall of Shame") and Northup replied that she had a conservative record on taxes and didn't want "any outside group from Washington dictating Kentucky's policies".

I think Northup did particularly well in this debate by succeeding in putting her opponents on the defensive. What do you think?

From On the Right:

Excerpt from the Courier Journal's coverage of the debate last night:

Fletcher said he chose to keep secret the fundraising for his legal defense fund, which he is using to pay off lawyer bills from his indictment, because he didn't want to release the names of donors while Attorney General Greg Stumbo, whom he has accused of a political witch hunt, remains in office.

"I'm not going to expose them to any retribution that might be there," Fletcher said.

State law doesn't require Fletcher to report the names of donors and how much they contributed until after the November election. But Northup hammered him, saying that "everything should be disclosed" and that Republicans deserve a candidate who won't be the focus of Democratic attacks on ethics throughout the election.

Even Harper, a Paducah businessman who has tried throughout the race to stick to his message of lower taxes and educational initiatives, was mildly critical.

"I think it's important that any fundraising that's used directly or indirectly for a candidate be under public scrutiny," he said. "Whatever you call a fund, whatever it's developed for, we need to be totally open with the public so they can see where the money is coming from."

The Herald Leader:

The two Republican rivals of Gov. Ernie Fletcher aggressively challenged him last night on his ethics and the fiscal record of his administration in their last statewide televised debate before the May 22 primary.

Former U.S. Rep. Anne Northup hammered Fletcher for failing to deliver on his 2003 campaign promise of "changing the culture of Frankfort." Instead, she said, he got mired in a state hiring scandal and has campaigned using taxpayers' money. "This administration has not been without scandal, and because of that the Democrats are lined up to run against us," she said during the debate televised from KET studios in Lexington.

Paducah businessman Billy Harper repeatedly spoke of a need for greater leadership from the governor's office and criticized Fletcher's record on taxes, noting that he signed off on $4 billion in debt over his term -- more than any governor in state history.

Comment: I know that I am biased but I thought both Northup and Harper did very well last night by sticking to the issues and hitting Fletcher hard on the ethics of Fletcher not disclosing the names of donors to his legal defense fund. The Governor looked like a whipped puppy and was constantly on the defensive. With only 2 weeks until the primary I think the momentum is shifting to Northup!

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