While the developments in the governor's race continue to astound -- Jim Bunning becoming the latest prominent GOPer to refuse to endorse the incumbent governor who was once a colleague of his in Congress is the latest example -- the way things are shaking out in one particular downticket race shows that unlike many of the state's top GOPers, rank-and-file Republicans are not afraid to show their displeasure with the current attorney general.
We believe that if prominent Republicans had spent more time being critical of Greg Stumbo's persecution of Ernie Fletcher while it was ongoing and less time crying about how the investigation has hurt the party's chances of keeping the governor's office, much of the damage could have been blunted. We've believed this all along and will continue to say so. Mitch McConnell, Hal Rogers, David Williams and others have done their party an extreme disservice by remaining silent. We just wish that once, Williams or someone with a reputation for bluntness would have been quoted calling Stumbo "a son of a b*tch" or "a deadbeat dad." Even those types of comments would have helped. But none of our top Republicans had the decency or the guts to go after the problem. They chose to sit back, withhold comment, and then whine about their party's situation after Stumbo had done his thing.
However, it's encouraging to see so much interest from other Republicans in taking out Stumbo and paying him back for what he did to Fletcher.
Already one candidate, Tim Coleman, a commonwealth's attorney from the western part of the state, has declared his candidacy. But several other names are being tossed around and we are certainly glad to see this much interest from quality candidates.
Brian Goettl, the Jessamine County attorney who's an integral part of the Conservative Edge
blog, is exploring a run.
So, too, is State Rep. Stan Lee from Lexington, a devout conservative and one of the true bright lights in the Kentucky GOP and the House of Representatives.
Erwin Roberts, former Personnel Cabinet secretary in the Fletcher administration, has also publicly said he'd like a crack at Stumbo. That would be sweet, especially since Roberts was a target of the persecution.
And at one time, Lt. Gov. Steve Pence said the AG's office was one thing he was considering after taking himself off Fletcher's re-election slate. We've been angry with Pence, along with the other GOP leaders mentioned earlier, for not being supportive of Fletcher or aggressive enough in his condemnation of Stumbo, but Pence could atone for this sin by running to be the nominee to give Stumbo the defeat he so richly deserves.
If we as Republicans get a primary field with even as few as two of these fine candidates, we will have done better than in 2003. For reasons that will never be explained, GOP primary voters stuck the party with the flawed Jack Wood over Tim Feeley as the candidate to run against Stumbo. And when a flawed Republican faces off against a flawed Democrat in Kentucky, given this state's voter registration patterns, the Democrat will usually win.
No Greg Stumbo, no merit system persecution, no questions about Fletcher's re-electability. It's as simple as that.
So while Bunning, McConnell, Ted Jackson and Jack Richardson continue to try to torpedo Fletcher from within the party, a group of thoughful, intelligent, promising candidates is emerging to take aim at the real problem, Greg Stumbo. The Republicans in this state would do well to channel the anger at Stumbo into a hard-hitting effort to do away with him in the political sense.
We'd have no problems supporting any of these candidates should they become the party's nominee.
Of course, there's always the possibility that Stumbo will give up the AG's spot for a run for governor or as the lieutenant governor candidate on someone else's slate. And in that case, the irony of possibly having a Republican attorney general to investigate an administration with Stumbo as part of it would be the ultimate revenge.
Paybacks are hell, Greg Stumbo. Don't you ever, ever, ever forget that.