Monday, January 22, 2007

Bunning’s Bunny

Endorsements are like dessert.

They are nice. They are not necessary.

The Good, the Bad, and The Nugly

The Wolf’s Den rates our gubernatorial candidates. I completely agree.

THE GOOD: Billy Harper, Businessman

If anyone embodies the American Dream it is Billy Harper. He started out being born and raised on a farm in Western Kentucky. He got himself educated and worked hard until, in 1980, he formed his own company: Harper Industries. Today Harper Industries has seven construction subsidiaries in Kentucky, Tennessee and Texas and construction sites in twenty states. Not too shabby for a farm boy from Paducah.

Of course, given his background and rise to prominence, one would expect the main message of his campaign would be education. After all education is what got him to where he is today. He has said what we have all known for a long time: the Kentucky education system basically sucks rocks! It is upsetting to know that our fourth graders are severely lacking in basic mathematic abilities. (Could be possible that the cause might be their teachers are more interested in the NEA mathematics than they are in fourth grade mathematics.) Harper wants more accountability in the school systems and, heres one that wont go over very big with the NEA, require every high school to show its graduates have necessary skills and knowledge for the workplace and for success on the job.

He is campaigning on more than one issue. He, as a business man, doesn't like the Alternative Minimum Tax which was approved in 2005 as part of Governor Fletcher tax code change. The calculation used was designed to take revenue from businesses whether they showed a profit or not. This has hurt many small businesses in Kentucky forcing many of them to close. (On the positive side, it has put $190 to $200 million into the state coffers which obviously has made the Demobats very happy.) On the other hand the thing that I admire about Billy Harper is his no-nonsense approach. When he found out about Ms. Northup announcing her candidacy for governor, he issued this statement on his website, Harper for Governor:

“Former Congresswoman Anne Northup’s entrance into the race for Governor highlights the need for change in ‘politics as usual.’ The 2006 election results, nationally and here in Kentucky, reflected that need for change. Pork spending, in Washington D.C. and in Frankfort, has grown too rampant even with a Republican Governor and a Federal Republican Congress.

Politicians in Frankfort and Washington just don’t get it. If you’re okay with that, there are plenty of career politicians to choose from. But if you’re not, I’m the only candidate talking about the need to take the money out of pork and put it into schools and tax cuts. We’re focused on education and on repealing the egregious Alternative Minimum Tax. This state needs strong schools, job growth and a fair tax system. Kentucky can do better. With me as Governor—together, we will.

He's so right. Politicians just dont get it. His only drawback will be lack of name recognition and experience. Because of those two factors, the WOLF's DEN is gonna give him a rating of "8".

THE BAD: Ernie Fletcher, Governor of Kentucky

When they write the book on how not too keep campaign promises, Gov. Fletcher will probably have at least one if not more chapters dedicated to him. His predessor, Paul Patton, had to leave office in disgrace over a sex scandal. When Fletcher launched his campaign he assured voters that :"You won't see those kind of scandals in a Fletcher-Spence administration". Ok, ok, you caught me! We didn't see any sex scandals in the Fletcher administration, but we did have scandals. They involved a little Demobat hunting in the state goverment. Some of Fletcher's top cabinet heads were accused of firing state employees because of their political beliefs.

Now you all know that I'm a transplant. I cut my political teeth in Chicago during the Richard J. Daley years. As you can well imagine, it came as quite a shock to me to find a place where it is actually against the law to fire a state worker because he/she was of the "wrong party". As I said before the two criteria for working for the City of Chicago were that a). you had to be a registered Demobat, and b). an ardent support of Mayor Daley. Any Republican caught working for the City of Chicago during the Daley years would have been fired, dumped into the trunk of a car, and driven to the city border or a Republican town. Here in Kentucky, however, we have the Merit System which, in effect, says that what Gov. Ernie's cronies did was illegal, and not nice.

A grand jury investigation ensued, indictments were handed out and they were all quashed when Gov. Ernie used his gubenatorial powers and pardoned those indicted. The Kentucky State Supreme Court upheld his right to pardon and Gov. Ernie cut a deal with the Demobat Kentucky Attorney General to get himself off the hook.

Now in light of the scandal he caused you would have thunk that ol' Gov. Ernie would have followed the path of his predecessor, Gov. Patton, and just gone home. I do have to begrudgingly give former Gov. Patton some credit. When he realized he would be a liability to his party, he choose not to run for re-election. Gov. Ernie, however, seems to think that all the good things he's done for Kentucky would outweigh one bad thing. Apparently he failed to get the 2006 memo from the American public that says that scandals will not be tolerated anymore. Add this to the fact that his approval rating is, according to SurveyUSA, at 31% which makes him the governor with the lowest approval rating in the country, the WOLF's DEN gives him a solid "3".

THE UGLY: Anne Northup, professional politician

Ok, ok before I start hearing from Northup supporters, when I say the ugly I am NOT referring to her looks!!!! I put her in the ugly category because she is a RHINO and a professional politician.

Ms. Northup has been a professional politician since she was first elected to the Kentucky General Assembly in 1987. She served in the House of Representatives from 1997-2007, representing the 3rd Congressional District, until she lost her seat in the great Demobat seizure of power in 2006. Her claim to fame in those ten years is that she voted pretty much along party lines. She voted to increase the size of goverment, voted for any and all pork attached to key bills, and was known for "bringing home the bacon" many times for her district.

Being part of the Republican establishment for the past ten years is what actually led to her defeat. She was among the many Republicans who lost sight of what we really are and what we really stood for. Now she wants to be governor. Why? Well, as prominent Republican Bill Stone was quoted as saying in the Courier-General, its because she "loves public service and has a very hard time sitting on the sidelines." That reason would make a great reason to vote for her, right? It's not that she wants to do good for the state of Kentucky, its because she wants back into the limelight again.

So where does she stand on the issues? Here are some highlites courtesy of the Louisville Courier-Journal: "Opposes a statewide smoking ban, although she called herself an anti-smoking activist. Explained her early vote against the tobacco buyout, saying she wanted companies to shoulder all of the payments. She said she ultimately voted for the buyout with the changes she wanted. Defended her support of background checks at gun shows, saying instant checks do not hamper gun sales. Said she doesn’t know much about a pending bill to require middle school-age girls to receive a cervical cancer vaccine, but “I would probably be against it". Real nice safe issues.

She seems at this point to simply condemn Gov. Ernie for his scandals and muddy the waters with unfounded accusations of her own. Other than that one would be hard pressed to find what her political stands are on any issues facing Kentucky. She seems to have adopted the Demobat strategy of "shooting the messenger, not the message". A true professional politician!!! There isn't much left I can say about her except the WOLF's DEN gives her a generous "5" rating.Add it all up and you can see Billy Harper would be the best candidate for the Republican party in Kentucky. With the entrance of Northup, however, Harper's candidacy will be reduced to a David v. 2 Goliathes fight. For him to win against Fletcher and Northup the Harperites will have to make sure they yell louder and clearer than anyone else in the crowd. I don't know if they can pull this one off, but I guarantee this is gonna make this here Kentucky gubenatorial race something interesting to watch.

Coalition Anti-Fletcher

From the Conservative Edge:

The key to beating Fletcher? Putting together, or retaining a coalition of Fletcher critics

To understand the dynamics of how to put together a coalition of Fletcher critics, you have to have an understanding of the various Republican groups that oppose Governor Fletcher. Anyone looking to unseat the Governor will have to bring these groups together, and add more to their ranks. Conversely, Governor Fletcher may have to work to break up that coalition and win defectors to his banner.

The analysis starts in Louisville, the home of the largest group of Fletcher critics. Some, like Jack Richardson, Steve Pence and Ted Jackson have played a critical role in undermining the Governor. Both Jackson and Richardson have close ties to Anne Northup and Mitch McConnell. While Pence was McConnell’s hand picked second choice to run with Fletcher in 2003. (McConnell’s first choice, Hunter Bates, was disqualified from running).

Within that Louisville group, there are at least four sub groups. Those who are loyal McConnell supporters. Those who want gambling for the Derby city. Those who want more state money brought into Louisville, and those who are disappointed in the Governor for the merit hiring scandal. In some instances, certain individuals may belong to all four camps.

More than likely, the McConnell faction will remain loyal to Mitch, and hence loyal to Northup. The gambling faction may be up for grabs as none of the three current GOP candidates has publicly supported gambling. Although, it’s possible that Northup’s stance is a subterfuge. Polls clearly indicate that the majority of Republicans are against gambling, and Northup may not want to alienate them at this point.

Northup herself may fall into the third category. Our sources tell us that Northup was heavily involved in trying to get the Governor to use most of the state’s transportation dollars for Louisville’s two big bridge projects. According to the source, try as he might, Governor Fletcher couldn’t appease the Louisville contingent with anything less than full funding for the bridges. That move would have left the cupboard bare for the rest of the state.

This group represents a chance for Governor Fletcher’s to peel away supporters of Northup. Not necessarily those supporters in Louisville, but other Northup supporters thoughout the state, that may be unaware of the money grab made by Louisville with pressure from Northup. It would be hard for elected officials to explain to their constituents why they supported a candidate who attempted to siphon off state money from their communities.

Finally, there are those Republicans who are sorely disappointed in the Governor for the merit hiring scandal. They may agree that the Governor did nothing wrong criminally, but believe that he failed them by not changing the culture he promised to change. Within that group is another sub group. Those Republicans who were hurt financially by the Governor’s actions.

Governor Fletcher has a chance to regain supporters from the disappointed Republicans. But he stands little chance of regaining the support of those whom have been hurt financially.

Outside of Louisville, there are several sub categories of Fletcher detractors. Most of the groups mirror the Louisville groups. Those who are loyal to McConnell, those who want gambling, although not necessarily just for Louisville, and those who are disappointed in the Governor,( and it’s sub group).

But there are other groups. Those include many Republicans who were rubbed the wrong way by Fletcher in the 2003 campaign. In fact, Louisville may have the some of those as well. During the 2003 campaign, Fletcher’s people were dubbed “the Armani gang” by rival republican campaigns. Some of Fletcher’s people were arrogant, and treated others with disrespect. The fact the Fletcher is somewhat aloof, did not help matters.

That arrogance continued in office, and continued to damage the Governor. That alone may have been the single biggest factor contributing to the Governor finding himself isolated once the merit hiring scandal began. Many of those Republicans have returned to the Governor’s fold, but the resentment still lingers.

For Republican challengers to the Governor, this last group may represent the single best opportunity to break up his coalition. Unfortunately, attacking the Governor as a campaign theme, is probably the wrong way to go about it. Billy Harper has been the most effective at it.

So for the GOP primary, the issue is, who can put together the biggest coalition. Keep in mind that some in the GOP are not Fletcher critics. The size of that contingent has yet to be determined. For the challengers, they will have to determine if the contingent is big enough to fight over, and if so, how to make inroads into that demographic, while cobbling together a sizeable contingent of Fletcher critics. It may be tough to do both, as Northup should be learning by now. You simply cannot win over Fletcher supporters by basing your entire campaign on trashing him.

Come May, we will find out if Fletcher was able to hold his coalition together, or if Northup was able to build or retain a large enough coalition of Fletcher critics sufficient to swamp his supporters, or if Billy Harper can wait in the stands and pick up the pieces.
Understanding the dynamics of Fletcher supporters is another column for another day.

Working Your Tax Dollars

Cities have to spend money. However, this is ridiculous:
As baby boomers age and perhaps lose the ability or inclination to drive, the Transit Authority of River City is hoping to give them a lift.

Because some of those people have never used public transit, TARC has developed a "travel-training" program.

TARC and the local chapter of AARP have created a 12-minute video at a cost of $20,000. It covers how to get on and off a bus, where to sit, how to transfer and how to read schedules.

When attempting a new activity, instruction is important.

There is a method for stepping onto a bus? You wait for the doors to open and ascend two steps. You sit where space is available. If you cannot read by age 65, a video will not help.

Taking Issue…

With another blogger, who called the graphic below “intellectually dishonest.”
How? The third district is property of Yarmuth.

Anne Northup lost.
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