Thursday, February 22, 2007

Candidates Pitch UK

Jeff Hoover’s learned the talking points… Fletcher can’t win, Fletcher can’t win, Fletcher can’t win… Governor Fletcher: “We’re reaching out through facebook.”

Twenty dollars says Fletcher wouldn’t know Facebook if the site entered his office and slapped him in the face.

From Pol Watchers:

In another example of the growing influence of younger party activists, the Central Kentucky College Republicans drew more than 90 people and representatives from all but four statewide GOP candidates' campaigns to a Lincoln Day Dinner last night.

"People realize that we are the grassroots effort," said Matt Ballard, a University of Kentucky student, who is co-chair of Gov. Ernie Fletcher's campaign at the university. "People realize it is the college students who give the most time to go door to door and make campaign calls at a nominal cost -- which is usually free."

Many of the GOP candidates who showed up to the event at the King Alumni House on UK's campus did ask the students for their help in the coming election. Fletcher, making a surprise appearance even though his running mate Robbie Rudolph already spoke, told the college Republicans that he was trying to reach out through a campaign site on Facebook.

But he also made a general pitch for young people to get involved in Republican politics, even if it means working for his opponents, former U.S. Rep. Anne Northup and her running mate state Rep. Jeff Hoover or Paducah businessman Billy Harper and his lieutenant governor candidate, Dick Wilson.

"If you support Jeff and Anne, go out and work hard for them. If you support Billy, go out and work for him. There's no better experience then going out on the campaign trail," Fletcher said. "Politics is getting more brutal than ever. But don't let that drive you away."

"But please know: We get up every day and try to do what's right," Fletcher added. "Sometimes we've looked and some of our friends weren't even there."

Hoover, representing the Northup campaign, thanked the various activists from College Republican organizations. He then made a general pitch for replacing Fletcher as the nominee. "When Republicans run on issues, as you all know, the Republicans win in Kentucky," Hoover said. "If the current governor is the nominee, we will have a campaign -- again, right or wrong, fair or unfair -- from the Democrats talking about grand juries, indictments, pardons, plea bargains, Fifth Amendment, who said what under oath and who didn't say what under oath."

And Harper, a construction company from Paducah, introduced himself to the crowd. "The state needs leadership. And I bring bold leadership," he said. "Leadership is about making the tough decisions."

Cheating Delayed

Runoff repeal vote delayed? They should not even consider this!

From the Lexington Herald-Leader:

Lawmakers delayed voting on a bill that would eliminate the governor's race runoff, to give themselves more time to decide how to cover that election's costs as well as what the legal ramifications of junking it might be.

After a lengthy discussion about the bill that would eliminate the runoff starting with this spring's governor's race, Rep. Rob Wilkey, the Democratic House whip, asked members of the Elections, Constitutional Amendments and Intergovernmental Affairs Committee to pass over the issue and pick it up again in "a day or two" at a special meeting. "I think there have been some questions raised about whether or not we ought to repeal this particular statute after people have already filed and begun to run for this office," Wilkey told reporters after the meeting.

As the law stands now, a runoff election would kick in for the governor's race if no candidate in the May 22 Democratic or Republican primaries received at least 40 percent of the vote. The special overtime election between the top two finishers in a party's primary would be held five weeks after that May 22 election was certified.

It's possible candidates could file a lawsuit if the General Assembly eliminates the runoff, thereby changing the rules in the middle of a race, Wilkey said. He said he hadn't heard from any of the 10 candidates for governor urging legislators to keep or repeal the runoff. But Secretary of State Trey Grayson said he spoke in November with a candidate whom he wouldn't identify -- before that person filed to run for governor -- and "volunteered to that potential candidate that the runoff provision would be in place for this race."

"I asked, 'Would this make it more likely you would run?' And the candidate said 'Yes,'" said Grayson, a Republican. He declined to say what party affiliation that person has.

"It's easier to finish in the first two," Grayson noted.

In addition to the possibility of litigation, lawmakers also raised the prospect that a runoff election could be delayed by a legal challenge to the primary election results. That could bump back the runoff to as late as July or August.

County clerks across the state are pushing to eliminate the runoff, considering that it would cost counties as much as $1,500 per precinct to hold that extra election. "The money is a big issue for me. That's the reason we filed the bill," said Rep. Rick Nelson, D-Middlesboro, the sponsor of the bill. The Kentucky Board of Elections passed a resolution 6-0 yesterday to support the clerks' position. But Les Fugate, spokesman for Grayson, said that aside from the clerks, the secretary of state's office hasn't received any calls urging repeal of the runoff.

Another issue regarding the runoff that came up at yesterday's committee meeting was the effect it would have on absentee ballots. Leslie County Clerk James Lewis said that having to put together an election after five weeks provides only a limited window of 15 days to get such ballots to and back from Kentuckians who are overseas, including military personnel. Nelson, meanwhile, has filed another bill related to the runoff that would require the state to cover the estimated $5 million in total costs to the 120 counties for setting up voting booths and paying poll workers.

Wilkey said he thought that the legislature would at least decide to cover the counties' costs. But the House Democrats' position remains fluid. "I think we're going to have a runoff but it's going to be paid for by the state," Nelson said after the noon House Elections Committee meeting.

But three hours later, he said the chances of getting rid of it were back to "50-50."

House Democrats will meet today to decide where their caucus stands on the issue, said Rep. Charlie Hoffman, majority caucus chairman.

KYProgress Choice Compliments

Giving Kentucky parents the right to choose how the tax dollars allocated to educate their children are spent should be very easy to implement. That is school choice. Call it vouchers if you want to.

Taking the power from the teachers union and giving it to parents makes a lot of sense in terms of creating competition for our struggling schools. Competition will make our education process stronger and it can be done without any additional costs to the taxpayers.

All we need is a little leadership. Billy Harper was the only gubernatorial candidate to show up at the school choice rally today in the Capitol. His staff worked vigorously to get him a speaking role in the event and deserves a ton of credit for their efforts. Harper's words in support of school choice set him apart in the Republican primary. I know Governor Fletcher and Anne Northup had other events scheduled this morning, but where are they on school choice now?

Back in 2003 while in Congress, both Northup and Fletcher voted for parents and children in Washington D.C. to have access to a pilot charter school program. The program has been so successful, the worst thing critics can say about it is too many families want in.

Surely Fletcher and Northup don't want to deny Kentucky families the same thing they saw fit to grant families who live in Washington D.C.

Desperately Seeking Supporters

Eager to introduce herself to Knox Countians who might not know their primary race options, state governor candidate Anne Northup visited business and community leaders at Tri-County National Bank in Corbin Friday.

"I think there’s some real value about getting out and making your own pitch," Northup said. "It’s not what one restaurant manager tells you, it’s what the 25th manager tells you about what’s really going on." "I need every ambassador I have," Northup said. "Jeff and I feel like we can provide an alternative. We both value the perspective of people who are on the front line."

Anne Northup values the opinion of anyone registered to vote.
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