Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Anne: Stop Campaigning, Become A Candidate

Who is Steve Pence? Traitor, deserter, defector, or as perfectly coined within camp Fletcher… the Brutus of Kentucky politics. Frankfort politicians incorrectly chose Pence in 2003 and today, Pence chose incorrectly.

Fletcher should not be re-elected. However, Anne Northup should not be elected. She has no agenda and one three-word talking point. “Fletcher can’t win.”

Additionally, anyone noting Northup’s false courage? Raggedy Anne is brave before a camera. However, she will not attend forums. She will not face her opponents.

Obviously, Northup is phony tough and the counterfeit courageous.

From the Lexington Herald-Leader:

In his endorsement of Anne Northup in the Republican primary for governor, Lt. Gov. Steve Pence criticized Gov. Ernie Fletcher for violating the very campaign theme he rode into office. Pence, speaking at a news conference in Frankfort in which he formally threw his support behind the former GOP congresswoman, said the Republican Party "must have a candidate who can get beyond the scandals of this administration."

"For others the issue is not whether the governor can be re-elected, but rather whether he should be re-elected," Pence said.

He then listed a litany of things that he said the 2003 version of Fletcher might have railed against while criticizing the "good-ol'- boy" culture of Frankfort. "In 2003, what would our party's candidate for governor have said about a governor that had been indicted -- taken the Fifth Amendment -- and issued blanket pardons to his staff?" Pence asked. "In 2003 what would our party's candidate for governor have said about an administration that endeavored to punish those who dared to disagree with them?"

Fletcher campaign manager Marty Ryall issued a statement about Pence's endorsement of Northup. It said: ""Anne Northup has been on a negative rampage against Gov. Fletcher since entering this race. She has no ideas or agenda other than to tear down our first Republican governor in 32 years.

"It is no surprise that the 'Brutus' of Kentucky politics has joined her negative campaign. She should hope there are no rough waters ahead, because Steve Pence will be the first one to jump ship."

Sam Edelen, a spokesman for the Republican gubernatorial campaign of Paducah businessman Billy Harper, said in a statement: "This doesn't affect our campaign. We're going to continue talking about issues important to Kentuckians, such as education and economic development, rather than endorsements from politicians."

On the Mark Pounds Pence

One of the more interesting sidelights of the Pence-endorses-Northup news conference today was Pence's reasoning for staying on the job as Lt. Governor.

It's clear that Fletcher and Pence aren't speaking and Fletcher hasn't given his Lt. Governor any job duties, taking some away instead. So a reporter asked Pence if he would quit, now that he's endorsing Northup. Pence said no, that he was elected to serve four years and that's what he plans to do. The second part of his answer was the most interesting. He says he needs to be the one taking over the reins of state government if something happens to Fletcher. In other words, Pence says he's staying on just in case Fletcher dies or resigns.

He says he's done alot of soul searching on this issue and thinks he's doing the right thing. But there's a good argument to be made that any Lt. Governor with few job duties is wasting taxpayers money and should voluntarily relinquish the job to someone who will work with Fletcher for the last few months of his term.

Fletcher wouldn't elaborate on his earlier request for Pence to resign. But he gigged Pence by saying he went down to the Lt. Governor's office a few days ago but Pence wasn't there, Fletcher adding "I'm sure he was out doing something". Fletcher also says his 2007 running mate, Robbie Rudolph, is "hard working and loyal". That's another obvious dig at Pence. As for Pence, he says he's got a job waiting for him when he leaves office.

He plans to return to a private law practice. When I asked him if he might try to switch jobs with Irv Maze, if the Jefferson County Attorney wins election on his ticket with Jonathan Miller, Pence said he hadn't thought about running for county attorney again, but wouldn't rule it out. Pence joked that I should call his wife and ask her if that would be OK. Pence's wife is Louisville attorney Ruth Ann Cox, who has reportedly been pressuring her husband to get out of politics, get back into a law practice and earn some real money to help take care of their four kids.

Blogs Pensive Concerning Endorsement

Who is Steve Pence? His endorsement is not an earthquake. The blogs are barely registering the “news” as a faint breeze.

From Bill’s Political Blog:

Who does all of this help? Maybe Billy Harper? The Paducah businessman stayed out of the friction today continuing his strategy of hoping Fletcher and Northup will fight and ultimately self destruct. Harper has been out on his bus touring the state and once in a while shows up with his race car which he’s been known to drive at speeds of up to 230 miles an hour.

It’s a big endorsement for Northup and it was a clear opportunity for Fletcher’s folks to prove they can strike back hard. It’s really interesting on the GOP side of things right now.

From Blue Grass, Red State:

The few people who do still support this man are either not paying attention, blind loyalists, or state employees who care more about their own jobs than what's best for the party or the state. It makes me sick at these Lincoln Day Dinners the way state employees who support Northup often wear the Fletcher stickers anyway or wear no sticker at all because they're scared somebody's going to tattle on them and they're going to get fired. So much for free political speech in the Fletcher administration. That's intimidated away. That's my take. Here are others.

So the Fletcher campaign is going on a negative rampage against Steve Pence's integrity!? Unbelievable. Update: According to Pence, the Fletcher administration "endeavored to punish those who dared to disagree with them." According to the legal skills and logic of Jessamine County Attorney Brian Goettl that was applied to me the other day, this is not true and therefore makes Pence eligible to be sued by Fletcher for defamation or some such thing. Take it back, Pence! Endorse The Supreme Executive!

From OSI Speaks:

Both sides are likely going to play the announcement to their advantage (the Northup camp making it to be the neck breaker, while the Gov.'s camp will pretend it means nothing), but here is my take on it: The announcement means something and can be significant -- though it would have been much more significant had it been from someone who hadn't been so publicly anti-Fletcher -- like Sen. Mitch McConnell or any of the other Congressional delegates. But it is still a BIG announcement, in the sense that it is not often that one has one's Lt. Governor OPENLY endorsing, and campaigning for, the other guy (or in this case, gal) -- and maybe even appearing in the other guy's (or gal's) commercials, as I suppose Steve Pence will do. And certainly not one that will say the things that Steve Pence can say, and has apparently started to say!

From Northern Kentucky Politics:

Not totally surprising that Lt. Gov. Steve Pence is backing Anne Northup over Gov. Ernie Fletcher in the GOP gubernatorial primary. Pence was, after all, considering running against Fletcher. But still not good news for the governor.

From On the Right:

Fletcher spokesman Marty Ryal is starting to sound a lot like Brett Hall or whatever that Yankee's name was!

From Kentucky Pachyderm 2:

However, we will properly harpoon him on the issue on his loyalty, which has proven to be nonexistent. If Mr. Pence has any shred of decency or honor left, he will tender his resignation as lieutenant governor immediately. If a non-merit employee such as a Cabinet Secretary had made this endorsement, he or she would be asked to resign on the spot or else they would be fired.

Conservative Edge Bashes Northup, Begs Civility

Now this is hutzpah

The Herald-Leader quoted Anne Northup as saying that she regrets that people who will be endorsing her, will be in "the crosshairs" during this GOP primary. Considering that Northup organized, rallied and has been cheering on the Republican circular firing squad, regret is not nearly enough.

Northup should be apologizing to all Republicans. Billy Harper set the example of how to take on Governor Fletcher and his problems with class. Northup's campaign has been a case study in how to tear down a party.

Conservative Edge On the Edge

We broke the news last week that the "big endorsement" today would be Steve Pence. But this comes as no surprise to us - and shouldn't to anyone else. Steve broke away from the Governor very publicly during the merit hiring scandal. He distanced himself because he decided for one reason or another during that crisis that he didn't want to be on Fletcher's team. When rumors began circulating a couple of weeks ago that Northup would be announcing another "Big Endoresment" we knew who that would be.

There were only a finite number of "big endorsements" left and by process of elimination and political posturing the big foam finger pointed directly to Mr. Pence. A reliable source called and confirmed that suspicion - we were right. One other note: As the teams solidify in this coming primary the nation is watching. Brit Hume of FOX News was in Frankfort this morning to cover this primary.

Let's all keep in mind that even the losers of this race (and those of us in the media who are commenting and reporting on the race) are now representing the Commonwealth to a much broader audience. This fight may get bitter, but let's all remember to fight hard on the issues and not get personal. Kentucky is a great state and has a bright future. I am praying for a vigerous debate - and a powerful unity in May.

KY Progress Praises Billy Harper

Just as I am hearing from more serious GOP primary voters who say they will vote for Billy Harper for governor, Mr. Harper seems to be improving his message. The MSM didn't cover it, but Harper was the only GOP candidate to stand up with Rep. Stan Lee last week and support the HB 30 special needs student school choice bill.

The soft underbelly of the education bureaucracy is its poor return on investment and continued clamoring for more money. Mr. Harper did himself no favors in his early commercials when he linked himself to KERA, but seems to be hitting his stride with this:

The notion that we need increased taxes and more government spending to transform our schools is not only misguided, but reads right from the outdated playbook of the politicians in Frankfort. An unfortunate example of this approach is the Covington Independent School District, which spent $13,166 on each student during the 2005-06 school year Ð the second highest rate in Kentucky Ð yet ranked last among the state's 175 school districts for its performance on the annual CATS assessment.

Spending per-pupil in that district has risen 121 percent since 1989, but student achievement has failed to keep pace. The funding is there, but the approach clearly is not working. In fact, average per pupil spending in Kentucky has risen every year since the KERA reforms, but student performance as measured by a variety of standards is not on the same track.

Now that he is properly indentifying the problem, it is time to hammer home some of the solutions. One of them is empowering parents with school choice. With Mr. Harper deciding to take a stand like this on real education reform, he may want to take a good look at this bill too.
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