Monday, February 26, 2007

Pence should resign

Today, Lt. Gov. Steve Pence made clean his break from his boss, Gov. Ernie Fletcher, by endorsing one of Fletcher's Republican primary opponents.

We could pick Pence's positions and statements apart, but at this point we choose not to.

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.

Friday, February 23, 2007

What good are annual sessions if you can't accomplish anything?

Those of us who believed the old saying that Kentucky would be better off if the General Assembly met for two days every 60 years instead of 60 days every two years formed the core of opposition for the constitutional amendment authorizing annual legislative sessions.

However, annual session supporters successfully made the argument that in this day and age of rapidly changing technological advances and other things that might require action, the legislative needed to regularly meet more than biannually.

It turns out that this time, there are some key priorities that the legislature needs to act on in order to move Kentucky forward. However, since this is also a gubernatorial election year and the incumbent governor faces challenges from both Republicans and Democrats, legislators are sitting on their hands and passing a whole lot of feel-good bills (such as the minimum wage increase) but doing nothing to meet the state's true needs.

The "Boni Bill" is a prime example. Despite the tragedy of the social worker's death, the GA has not properly responded to the governor's legislative proposal to increase safety for social workers. House Speaker Jody Richards, himself a gubernatorial candidate, accuses Gov. Fletcher of playing politics with the situation (when in reality Richards is the one guilty of that behavior) and echoes the sentiments that the biennial budget was passed last year and the legislature shouldn't revisit the budget this year.

Another good example is the Horse Park project. The eyes of the equestrian world -- indeed, the world in general -- will be on the Commonwealth in three years when the FEI World Equestrian Games come to Lexington. This is the Olympics of the horse world and the clock is ticking on the state's preparations for the event. There is a pressing need for capital improvements at the Horse Park and these projects need to get started immediately.

Yet the legislature is dragging its feet on approving the funding package requested by the Fletcher administration. Some have even said that these proposals can wait until next year.

If we are going to pay these 138 men and women to conduct public business in February of odd-numbered years, then they need to get off their rumps and do something. They need to get a move on and approve projects that will work for the betterment of the Commonwealth.

Otherwise they're just wasting tax dollars and inadvertently proving the point that annual sessions are a waste of time and money.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Stumbo and Wells: "He loves me, he loves me not"

Back when Greg Stumbo was indicting everyone in sight in the Fletcher administration's Office of the Governor and Transportation Cabinet, one of his biggest cheerleaders was Charles Wells, executive director of the Kentucky Association of Democrat Patronage Hires ... err, we mean Kentucky Association of State Employees.

Every time the attorney general's office levied a new charge or turned another Fletcher administration official into an indicted ham sandwich, Wells was out there in the forefront, bleating about what a fine fellow Stumbo was and how the state employees were lucky to have such a civic-minded public servant on the front lines looking out for them and their rights under the merit system.

Now, Wells and Stumbo are in the middle of a messy breakup in which each side is accusing the other of inappropriate behavior.

Because Stumbo has hitched his gubernatorial aspirations to Bruce Lunsford's campaign, and because Lunsford endorsed Ernie Fletcher in 2003, and because labor unions don't like Fletcher because he dared to propose eliminating the prevailing wage requirements for state contracts and actually thinks workers shouldn't have to join unions as a condition of employment, and because Fletcher is accused of screwing over state merit employees, a number of unions have announced they won't consider the "Lunsbo" ticket when they ponder endorsements for the Democrat primary.

Put in terms of marital infidelity, something Stumbo should understand very well, Wells has accused Stumbo of cheating. And he has also accused Stumbo of the political equivalent of verbal spouse abuse (terroristic threatening) because he claims Stumbo threatened retaliation because of the refusal to endorse.

We don't know if this little dust-up will become Kentucky's version of the Clinton-Obama-Geffen love triangle, but we do find it ironic and amusing that only a few months ago, Wells was praising Stumbo for sticking up for state employees and basically saying that merit system workers couldn't find a better friend than Mr. Stumbo. Now he's ripping Stumbo a new one.

Couldn't happen to a nicer bunch, if you ask us.

Another example of anti-Fletcher media bias

Today's Lexington Herald-Leader contains a lengthy story on the status of a legal defense fund set up by Gov. Fletcher's supporters to help ease the personal financial burden laid upon him by Attorney General Greg Stumbo's reckless prosecution in the state hiring investigation.

It can be said, of course, that the whole story is designed as yet another volley fired against Fletcher by a hostile media outlet as the governor faces not only a tough re-election challenge from the Democrats, but a display of disloyalty from within his own party in the form of two primary challengers, Assistant Attorney General Billy Harper and Assistant Attorney General Anne Northup. That becomes evident when you see that the first quote in the story comes from Lt. Gov. and Assistant Attorney General Steve Pence.

But if one ever needed proof of just how biased the state's largest press outlets have been against Fletcher and his administration, one need look only at a phrase commonly used by the media and repeated again in this story.

"Fletcher did not pardon himself but agreed to a plea deal with Stumbo last August that ended the investigation."

BZZT. Wrong. This was NOT a plea deal!. Yet the press continues to throw that phrase around because as used, it does damage to Fletcher.

Fletcher pleaded not guilty to the misdemeanor charges levied against him by the grand jury composed primarily of merit employees and Democrats. He never wavered from his assertions of innocence and never changed his plea.

A plea deal occurs when a defendant pleads guilty, usually to a reduced charge, and accepts a lighter sentence than would have been levied at trial. This is usually done because the defendant agrees to testify against someone else, or because the evidence looks pretty convincing and the perp doesn't want to risk what might happen at trial.

While Fletcher may have agreed to -- and signed off -- on the language in a court document, this was no plea deal. This was a dismissal of the charges with prejudice by the prosecutor Most likely this happened for two reasons: Stumbo needed the investigation over with to comply with an Ethics Commission ruling and further his political ambitions (he's on a gubernatorial slate now, isn't he?) and because he realized the actual evidence against the governor was very weak and would deteriorate even further since the Kentucky Supreme Court had ruled that the governor could not be tried until he was out of office.

Yet the press continues to improperly refer to this as a plea deal. It was nothing of the sort. What it was instead was Stumbo folding his tent and going home, to contemplate his gubernatorial ambitions. The only deal was Fletcher signing off on the language used in the dismissal order.

Of course we don't expect pointing out this error to do any good. The anti-Fletcher liberal press will continue to use its power to work against the Republican governor, but at least they will know that someone's out there keeping an eye on their accuracy.

A quick solution to the "Boni Bill" controversy: Arm social workers

Media reports of a chance encounter between Gov. Fletcher and obstructionist House Speaker (and gubernatorial wannabe) Jody Richards indicate that the two dispensed with pleasantries and spoke rather harshly to one another over the fate of the "Boni Bill," a package of reforms for social workers backed by the governor in the wake of the murder of a western Kentucky social worker named Boni Frederick last year.

While we are naturally predisposed to take Fletcher's side on nearly any situation, and equally predisposed to side against Richards for his and his party's role in holding this state hostage for decades, this situation was particularly egregious.

Richards accused Fletcher of cutting staff positions in the Cabinet for Health and Family Services. We don't see how increased staffing could have prevented what happened. The only thing different we can see happening is perhaps another social worker would have been working that case and we'd be discussing the "Brenda Bill" or the "Darlene Bill" instead of the "Boni Bill."

Fletcher has been governor for three years, and all during that time he's had to deal with a hostile House of Representatives led by an obstructionist Democrat named Jody Richards. Richards' henchmen have been in power in Kentucky for decades and they are the ones who have let state government deteriorate. Adding social workers will not help keep them safe from hostile situations.

We deplore what the House has done to the "Boni Bill" in an attempt to keep Gov. Fletcher from getting credit for his reaction to a tragic situation. However, we have a simple and effective answer that would make a positive difference in preserving the safety of social workers and other state employees who find themselves in dangerous situations.

Why not train them in firearms usage, give them concealed-carry permits, and allow them to pack heat when they're out in the field? This could benefit not only social workers, but safety inspectors, highway workers and others who have been threatened in the performance of their duties. If only Boni Frederick had been armed and trained in the use of a weapon, she might be alive today and those who killed her might themselves be dead.

Nearly 50 years ago, the mother of one of our contributors here at K-Pac worked for what was then commonly called Public Assistance. This was way back in the days before GPS locators, inexpensive two-way radio technology and cell phones. Yet the situations these public assistance workers found themselves in were often no less dangerous. The territory covered by the woman in question was rural and isolated and populated with people who did not necessarily appreciate government involvement in what they considered to be their own business. So she carried a gun in her vehicle and she knew how to use it. If necessary, she could have defended herself if her life had ever been threatened.

We fully support Fletcher's proposed changes, but we think state employees whose jobs put them in dangerous situations should have every means available to protect and defend themselves.

Letting social workers and others carry concealed weapons would probably be a more effective protection measure than anything proposed in the "Boni Bill." While we are in favor of the bill as proposed by the administration, we are even more in favor of giving social workers and others a full measure of self-defense.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Religion and political candidates: OK for discussion of presidential candidates but not gubernatorial candidates?

In the mainstream media, we've read quite a bit about the religion of one announced Republican presidential candidate.

Anyone who pays attention to politics now knows that Mitt Romney is a Mormon. Story after story has appeared in the press about this subject, and Romney's faith has even been the subject of polls -- as in, "Would you vote for a Mormon for president?"

No one's crying foul over this. No one is upset and saying that questions about Romney's faith have no business in a political campaign on the issues.

Yet once again, the Democrat double standard is at work.

In the Kentucky media, not once have we seen any in-depth analysis of the fact that Jonathan Miller, Democrat state treasurer and gubernatorial candidate, is a Jew. No one is doing polls on whether or not Kentuckians would vote for a Jew for governor. No one is talking about how, or if, Miller's Jewish faith would influence his policy decisions.

Those same interests who have derided President Bush and Gov. Fletcher for being men with deep beliefs in the Christian faith are oddly silent about Miller's religion.

And what's worse, anyone who has raised questions about it on Kentucky's so-called "progressive" blogs have been labeled as anti-Semitic.

To us, what's good for the goose is good for the gander. If Romney's religion is going to be open to scrutiny by the press and the public as he pursues the office of president, then it's only fair that Miller get the same scrutiny in Kentucky. Conversely, if Miller's religion is out of bounds for discussion, then so too should Romney's be.

Could it be that Miller is the preferred choice of the so-called "progressives" and liberals in Kentucky, and they know that in a conservative Christian state like Kentucky, a Jewish candidate would have difficulty being elected governor?

Surely not. This blatant double standard has to be purely coincidental. Has to be. There's no other logical explanation .... is there?

Friday, February 16, 2007

Goettl gets it!

We want to take our hats off to Brian Goettl, county attorney in Jessamine County and one of the outspoken commentators at The Conservative Edge. Mr. Goettl shows an outstanding ability to comprehend and analyze political events, especially as they relate to the hiring investigation and the governor's race.

For a synapsis of exactly how perceptive he is, read the comments section on this post and see his rebuttal to an obvious Northup supporter who posted on Conservative Edge.

Specifically, this one:
"Finally, while it's clear that Governor Fletcher is the most qualified candidate for the position and in my view more electable then Northup, (which negates her entire campaign thesis), that is not why I have defended him. I have defended him, because precious few other Republicans have. I have yet to see a letter to the editor from party leaders like yourself, going after Stumbo. In fact, I have yet to hear Northup or Hoover comment on Stumbo let alone criticize him. If you have been reading this site for the last eighteen months, you would have known that what Northup and her supporters have done, is exactly what Stumbo and the Frankfort Democratic establishment wanted. Stumbo didn't care about the merit system, the Democrats have been abusing it for years, he cared about attacking the growing strength of the GOP. When Northup and her supporters attack Fletcher, they are carrying out the bidding of the Democrats. So, support Northup all you want. Greg Stumbo is enjoying the ride. "

Some of you scoff when we say Greg Stumbo is laughing at the dissent within the Kentucky Republican ranks? This squabble is exactly what Stumbo wanted to see when he took Doug Doerting's evidence instead of saying, "Go see the Personnel Board, their office is over at Fountain Place."

Mr. Goettl has a firm grip on reality. He certainly gets it in regards to the merit system hiring investigation. We tip our hats to him for a job well done!

Stan Lee's campaign hits cyberspace

We aren't ready to endorse a candidate for attorney general, although we believe two things:

1.) State Rep. Stan Lee would be a most excellent choice, and
2.) Anything's better than Greg Stumbo, including what one of us just scooped out of the cat litter box.

At any rate, the Lee campaign has asked us to post the following, which we will gladly do.

The "Stan Lee for Kentucky Attorney General" website is now up and running. Please visit today and send a message of support to Stan as he begins his exciting campaign to bring back honesty, integrity, and a conservative view to Kentucky's most important legal office.

We won't be posting notices for every Republican candidate, but in this case we are more than glad to help Lee out because we believe he is truly one of Kentucky's great statesment of this era.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Satan, laughing, spreads his wings...

Somewhere, probably either in Frankfort or Prestonsburg, Greg Stumbo is laughing.

With yesterday's e-mail sent by the Anne Northup campaign about the state hiring persecution, Stumbo's mission edged one step further to completion.

He has succeeded in his major goal that was set forth when he launched the probe. He has split the Republican party and has managed to get folks whom we otherwise regarded as intelligent and well-informed to buy his belief that Ernie Fletcher is a criminal.

Stumbo had no interest in prosecuting crimes. His interest was in politically damaging the governor. Apparently he succeeded.

We are astonished at the number of Republican officials and bloggers who have swallowed Stumbo's bait hook, line and sinker. We continue to be amazed that these people put any credibility or belief in the charges that were brought forth by an assistant attorney general who works solely at Stumbo's pleasure and supported Ben Chandler in the 2003 gubernatorial election, and ratified by a grand jury that never showed any desire to act independently of the prosecutor.

We are still working on confirming some preliminary information, but we do know that most of the grand jurors were Democrats and several were state merit employees -- two groups that were already predisposed to dislike Fletcher and his administration and the policies they put forth.

The media never supported Fletcher, not before the election and certainly not after it. Northup is among many Republicans who never supported Fletcher after he got into office and ran into difficulty. If she ever made a public statement in support of the Fletcher administration and in denouncement of the Stumbo investigation, we aren't aware of it. If she made any move to cut off federal funding to the attorney general's office after the persecution began, we never heard of it. If she did anything at all to help her fellow Republican and former congressional delegation mate, that remains a deep dark secret.

You are either with Ernie Fletcher or you are with Greg Stumbo. And Northup obviously wasn't with Ernie Fletcher.

So Satan -- we mean Stumbo -- is certainly laughing today. He has enlisted the help of key Republicans in this state to tear down the Fletcher administration. One of us wants to cry. Another wants to puke. Others here feel like doing both.

We just wonder how Northup would feel if she ended up being governor and on the receiving end of a politically motivated partisan investigation, and she got no support or defense from within her party.

That's something Northup, Hal Rogers, Mitch McConnell and others will have to live with on their consciences.

In case you didn't get the "Satan, laughing, spreads his wings" reference, it's the last line in the song "War Pigs" by Black Sabbath. The line right before it goes, "Begging mercies for their sins." That's what Northup and the rest of the Fletcher critics in the GOP should be doing.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Anne Northup's limited experience and worldview is a liability

Someone must have told disloyal Republican Anne Northup that her "Fletcher can't win" primary election strategy leaves something to be desired. It seems she's now out trying to articulate positions, particularly on economic development -- that is if you can consider her "a different approach for each of our 120 counties" statement as a legitimate goal.

The only problem is that Northup's experience is severely limited when it comes to Kentucky geography.

During her years in Congress, and before that as a state legislator, Northup only represented PART of ONE county, and that county is atypical of most of Kentucky. A large chunk of Jefferson County isn't even in the 3rd District. And even though Northup enlisted disloyal Republican Jeff Hoover, from the GOP-dominated 5th District, to be her running mate, we have to wonder how well she'll relate to the people and the varied needs of Kentucky.

During his three years as governor, Ernie Fletcher has worked for the entire Commonwealth. By now he has visited most, if not all, of the state's counties. But on top of that, Fletcher trumps Northup in relevant legislative experience, too.

While he served in Congress, Fletcher represented a varied district in terms of geography and socioeconomics. His territory included Kentucky's second largest city, the state capital of Frankfort, growing communities like Scott and Clark and Madison counties, rural areas like Bourbon and Garrard counties, and even a couple of poorer Appalachian counties like Estill and Powell. He has more familiarity and experience with a number of communities and issues than does Northup, whose turf and scope is quite limited in comparison.

Fletcher's congressional district, probably more than any other, represented all phases of Kentucky life. From rural to urban, small town to big city, agrarian to industrial, prosperous to impoverished, flat to mountainous, you can find everything that makes Kentucky what it is in the 6th District.

The governor's own background makes him better able to relate to Kentuckians of all social standings. Raised in humble surroundings in Montgomery County by working-class parents with Appalachian roots, Fletcher graduated from high school in Lexington. And there's no disputing his resume is the most impressive we've ever seen of any candidate for public office in Kentucky in decades.

When life experiences and worldviews are carefully considered, it's obvious Fletcher has a huge advantage over Northup. Someone who's only represented a small corner of Kentucky versus someone who's represented everything that makes Kentucky what it is -- to us, the choice is an easy one. This is another case where Fletcher's qualifications stand head and shoulders above everyone else's.

Democrat hypocrisy makes its annual return to Frankfort

Another winter, another legislative session, another opportunity for Kentucky's Democrat legislators to show just what hypocrites they are.

For the second straight year, Democrat Rep. Dan Cherry is pusning merit system reform legislation, presumably in response to Greg Stumbo's persecution of the Fletcher administration. This year's bill would place a one-year probationary period on non-merit employees who take merit jobs. Currently these applicants are subject to the same six-month probationary period as anyone else.

One thing that's interesting about this, to what should be no one's surprise, is the way the press has covered Cherry's bill.

The Herald-Leader's story on the restriction on "burrowing" includes this line: "State merit laws are designed to protect rank-and-file emloyees from political influence."

We can't let that phrase go without scrutiny. Placing a one-year probationary period on non-merits who take merit jobs would do exactly the opposite. This would make it much, much easier for an incoming governor or administration to do politically motivated firings.

But the real kicker comes from another line in the story: "Cries for change in the merit laws arose after the Fletcher administration was accused of illegally using politics to fill state jobs."

The Democrats have raped the merit system for years, using it to their own advantage in hiring state employees. Little Democrat support systems are in place in all cabinets and offices; systems that continued to run a Democrat patronage operation even after a Republican administration took office.

Now, Democrats want to protect state employees? Where was their outrage when their own governors were doing things far worse than what Fletcher and his administration have been accused of?

Of course it's selective outrage. We expect no less from Democrats. We're just surprised they want to tie their hands in this manner for the times in the future when they are in power. A Democrat giving up what he or she perceives to be a God-given right is a shock.

And we'd be keenly interested in finding out how many job recommendations Rep. Cherry has made to Democrat administrations in years past. If the total is one or more, then Cherry's status as a hypocrite is cemented.

Just more fun and games in the Democratic stronghold that is Frankfort.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Older sister deserves much of the blame in UK rape allegation

In scanning the news from the weekend, we were troubled by a story out of Lexington. And we hope and pray that this doesn't escalate to the stature of what happened at Duke University last year. (You do know you can't spell "Duke" without "UK," don't you?)

A 17-year-old girl, visiting her older sister at UK, was allegedly raped. A UK athlete was charged with the crime.

We’ll let the legal system sort this one out regarding the rape charge, but we believe that charges should be forthcoming against the sister of the accuser.

News stories indicate that the older sister took the accuser to an off-campus party and also to a bar. She also allowed the accused rapist into her room where the accuser was staying and where the alleged rape occurred.

We thought there were laws against 17-year-olds going into bars. And we also thought that older siblings, charged with caring for their little sisters, should know better than to take said little sisters to college parties where we’d be shocked, SHOCKED, to find out that alcohol was available.

While we are sure that the older sister feels terrible about what allegedly happened, the fact remains that she was responsible for her younger sister. She is the one who took the alleged victim to the party and to a bar. We are of the belief that the older sister should be charged with one or more crimes, possibly contributing to the delinquency of a minor or wanton endangerment. That might possibly send a message to other college students who might entertain their younger siblings that there are places they shouldn’t go and things they shouldn’t do while they have their kid brothers or sisters with them. Not only did she violate the law by taking her little sister to a bar, but she violated the trust her parents put in her to take care of her sister for the weekend.

In this case, it appears that the older sister allowed the younger sister to be put at risk. Punishing her via the legal system might serve as a deterrent against similar behavior in the future by others.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Primary issues: Ideas vs. electability

In 2002, one of us here at K-Pac had a dilemma. He was trying to decide whom, among the announced and prospective Republican gubernatorial candidates, he was going to support.

Even though he had long been interested in current events and his attention to politics was emerging, he had never gotten seriously involved in a campaign. In 2003, he planned to escalate his level of involvement to include financial contributions, volunteering for the campaign, and however else he could help. He sensed that the time was right to help move Kentucky out of the fatal grip of imcompetent and corrupt Democrat rule and to bring progress to the Bluegrass by electing a Republican chief executive.

He was faced with several intriguing choices as to whom to support, but he was struggling mightily over one key element: Which candidate should he support, the one he thought most qualified or the one he thought had the best chance of winning in the general election?

Quite frankly, as 2002 was slipping toward 2003, our hero honestly felt the most electable of the announced and potential candidates was Rebecca Jackson. The thought of making Democrat women in Kentucky, who long had clamored for more of their gender to be in power, choose between one of their own and their party registration was a delicious one for him. He practically slobbers at the images of Democrat hypocrisy in action. He relished the thought of the political benefits of having a female as the GOP nominee. Although he believed Ms. Jackson to be qualified, and obviously better than any candidate the Democrats would offer on partisan platform terms, he didn't think she was the most qualified Republican. He did, however, feel the Jefferson County clerk was the most electable.

On the other hand, he viewed Ernie Fletcher as the most qualified candidate. Fletcher's resume was deep and expansive: Congressman, state representative, military veteran, lay minister, medical doctor, engineering student. The experience and intellect that Dr. Fletcher would bring to the campaign would be head and shoulders above what anyone else of either party could offer up. But he was truly concerned about Fletcher's electability. With the state's registration numbers giving Democrats nearly a 2-to-1 advantage and with the trail of failed male candidates that had been left in prior elections (including good candidates like Larry Forgy, Larry Hopkins, Jim Bunning and former Gov. Louie Nunn), he was afraid the same fate would befall Fletcher. He knew that getting the Democrats out of the Governor's Office was imperative if Kentucky was going to stop its downward slide and start to move forward, but he felt that the Republicans might need an added edge -- such as a female candidate -- to get over the hump.

His quandary continued until he had the chance to have a face-to-face discussion about the campaign with Dr. Fletcher. Fletcher was meeting with people across the state to assess his chances and our hero was one of those invited to speak with the Congressman. Any doubts he had about his choice vanished during that sit-down. He came out of that meeting with his ideas of Fletcher as the best candidate reinforced beyond doubt, and with his mind made up to support the best-qualified candidate instead of the one he felt was most electable in the general election.

"Go with the best," he said, "and let the chips fall where they may."

As it turned out, his fears were groundless. Ben Chandler's campaign never really got off the ground and despite Fletcher's gender and despite the registration numbers being against him, he won by what is really an astounding margin when all factors are considered.

Our K-Pac blogging partner learned something from the 2003 campaign. Ideas and ideology are more important than electability. There is more pride in losing while fighting the good fight than there is in winning by gimmick. Put your best foot forward. Go with your best starting pitcher in the first game of a playoff series. Play your style no matter the outcome (even if it's a 150-95 loss). Throw your heat and dare the slugger to swing at it. If you get knocked down, pick yourself up and go back for the next round. And all that good stuff.

As Republicans listen to Anne Northup and Billy Harper make their pitches over the next few months, we urge them to make the candidates discuss the real issues. Make them tell you why their policies would be better than the Fletcher administration's. If they tell you to vote for them because Ernie Fletcher can't win in the fall, tell them, "that's not a good enough reason."

Because it isn't.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Northup's candidacy: No silver lining for GOP, only storm clouds

Here we are, two weeks into Anne Northup’s gubernatorial candidacy, and we have yet to see anything positive that can come of it for Kentucky’s Republicans.

If you thought the 1991 primary battle between anointed front-runner Larry Hopkins and late entrant Larry Forgy was bad, then we’ll cue up an old Bachman-Turner Overdrive song for you.

Knowing Gov. Ernie Fletcher as we do, we don’t expect him to go negative on his main opponent, Anne Northup, or secondary rival Billy Harper. Fletcher is a good, honest, decent man who has been treated unfairly by his own party even as he has had to fend off attacks from the Democrats. We’re still very angry and upset at the conduct of this state’s Republican leaders for their utter failure to work in their governor’s defense. In our eyes, they are no better than the Stumboites who have made it their goal to bring Fletcher down since it became apparent on Election Night 2003 that he was going to be the state’s new governor.

As Northup, Harper, Sen. Jim Bunning and others continue to say, “Fletcher cannot win re-election and we need to keep the governorship in GOP hands,” we continue to say, “Why didn’t you do something to preserve Fletcher’s viability instead of staying silent and letting the Stumboites run roughshod over him?”

To borrow and take liberties with a phrase used by President Bush, you are either with Ernie Fletcher or you are with the Democrats.

We digress, but we can’t help it. Our collective blood boils as the treatment Fletcher has received from those supposedly on the same team.

As we examine Northup’s candidacy, we have tried to see what positive effects it can have on Kentucky’s Republican Party and our hopes for conservative government. We aren’t finding any. We’re looking for a silver lining and we’re finding only clouds.

Predictably, with the Democrats being out of power, a whole bunch of them lined up to run for the seat in an attempt to take back what they feel is their birthright. That may end up weakening the eventual Democrat nominee’s general election support – and the as-yet-uncertain fate of the runoff provision factors into that – but the problem with Kentucky politics is that the Democrats don’t have to be united to win a statewide race.

One look at the statewide party registration numbers tells you that. Although the GOP has made definite gains in the last few years, the Democrats still enjoy a pretty healthy advantage. Figures from last year show that nearly 60 percent of registered voters in Kentucky are Democrats, while only 35 percent are Republicans.

Do the math. If the runoff provision holds up, the eventual Democrat nominee will win with at least 40 percent of his party’s vote. If that support holds for the general election, he will only need to pick up about 20 percent or so of his primary opponent’s support in the general election no matter how unified the Republicans are. We expect the Democrat primary to be a wild affair with hard feelings abounding after it’s over, especially if it goes to overtime. It’s highly possible the Democrats won’t be a united party after the primary.

That’s why it’s imperative that the Republicans have a united front in this election. The GOP should have rallied around Fletcher to help dress his Stumbo-inflicted wounds and protect him from further damage, but they turned their backs on him. It’s already created hard feelings within the party and those hard feelings are going to fester over the next few months.

We have no idea what Northup’s supporters – or Harper’s, for that matter -- will do if Fletcher wins the primary. For the moment we’ll take the candidates at their word that they’re in the race for the benefit of the party, so we think that should translate into support for Fletcher.

But should Northup win, we certainly wouldn’t blame Fletcher’s supporters if they stayed home in November. Why should they show any loyalty to the party that has shown no loyalty to them? We haven’t heard any Friends of Governor Fletcher say they’ll vote for the Democrat nominee, but we have heard a few say they will vote for, but not campaign for or financially support, Northup. And we have heard some say they’ll stay home or cast no vote in the governor’s race in protest of how the party and its leaders have treated their governor.

Now more than ever, Kentucky’s Republicans need to be united, not divided. But apparently someone didn’t tell Northup, Harper, Bunning and far too many others. The Democratic lineup of candidates is not awe-inspiring by any means and none are guaranteed a win over Fletcher, even with the Stumbo stain still on him. The merit system probe doesn’t resonate with the average Kentuckian, and Fletcher does have a record of accomplishments to run on.

We’ve tried. We’ve attempted to give Northup the benefit of the doubt. But we still see no positives in her candidacy. In fact, we see this intra-party challenge to our state’s first Republican governor in three decades as a sad setback to our party’s rise to relevance in Kentucky. We expected the Democrats to go after Fletcher. We never expected his own party to turn on him.

The divisions brought about by the anti-Fletcher contingent will be deep and hard to heal. In 2003, Fletcher was a candidate most all Republicans could rally around. Nothing’s changed since then, except some Democrats got him in their gun sights. This state’s Republicans have shown cowardice by not directly confronting the Stumboites, and all of Kentucky will suffer for it.

There is no silver lining in this overcast sky for Kentucky Republicans. Only the threat of storms looms overhead.

Attention Julian Carroll!

The anti-Fletcher forces in the Kentucky conservative and Republican blogosphere are pointing to comments made by former governor and current state Sen. Julian Carroll as proof that Ernie Fletcher cannot win re-election.

With all due respect to them (which is none, given that they’ve abandoned our party’s incumbent governor and surrendered to the Democrats without firing a shot in return), they are responding in the completely wrong manner.

Well, in response to the former governor’s statements, we have a couple of questions and a comment for Carroll.

Our questions:

“Mr. Carroll, does the name Sonny Hunt mean anything to you?”

“Mr. Carroll, how many merit system personnel decisions were influenced by partisan politics during your period as governor?”

Our comment:

“Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.”