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.


At 11:51 PM, February 04, 2007, Blogger jefferson poole said...

I wish to God we would have nominated Rebecca Jackson in 2003. A lot of the garbage that has gone on during the Fletcher term she simply would not have allowed to happen.

At 9:59 AM, February 05, 2007, Blogger K-Pac II said...

If this is true, then she definitely would have been a one-termer and would have faced a challenge from within the party.

It's painfully obvious that the Louisville contingent of the party does not understand the wants and needs of the party members from the rural areas.

If Rebecca Jackson had not responded to the demand for jobs from party officials, local elected officials and activists out in the state, any support she would have enjoyed in those areas would have evaporated.

We don't believe Anne Northup gets this, either. Any Republican governor who does NOT work to break the Democrat stronghold on merit system hiring won't get much support from the rank and file out in the state.

At 1:53 AM, February 06, 2007, Anonymous ChuckDodger said...

At Saturday‘s dinner, Billy Harper offered both Anne Northup and Governor Fletcher stickers touting a clean campaign. Governor Fletcher accepted the sticker. Northup did not. This proves?

Governor Fletcher is merely dishonest. Based on her actions, we know what Anne Northup is.

At 11:07 AM, February 06, 2007, Blogger K-Pac II said...

We disagree 100 percent with your assertion that Governor Fletcher is dishonest. We have seen no evidence of dishonesty from the governor. Some of his staffers (Dan Druen in particular) have proven to be less than honest but Fletcher has been true to his word.

He promised to clean up state government, he has tried mightily only to be stopped in his tracks by the Democrats who were the cause of all the problems.

He promised to get to the bottom of the merit system deal, he did so by firing those whom he felt had acted inappropriately (but not illegally).

We believe he will run a clean campaign based on his accomplishments. Since Harper and Northup particularly don't have a platform of ideas to run on, we expect Northup in particular to run solely on an an anti-Fletcher platform, which we believe to be extremely harmful to the Republican Party. Seems Northup never heard Ronald Reagan's 11th Commandment.

At 10:31 PM, February 06, 2007, Anonymous DennyRain said...

He promised to clean up state government and got indicted...

At 8:58 PM, February 07, 2007, Anonymous BlakeAssertion said...

Anne Northup’s the favorite? Two weeks into the campaign, she’s reinventing herself. She has fired her campaign manager. She’s hired the Republican party’s executive director.

She’s the favorite? She’s Kentucky’s Al Gore.

At 5:37 AM, February 09, 2007, Anonymous ReggieNelson said...

Governor Fletcher signs the no tax pledge, increases taxes with AMT. Jeff Hoover signs, supports tax increases. Anne Northup signs, CAGW labels her “Porker of the Month.”

Unlike them, Billy Harper will stick with the pledge.

At 12:29 PM, February 09, 2007, Anonymous Nicholasville conservative said...

The folks who keep saying Billy Harper is running a campaign based merely on "Fletcher can't win" aren't paying attention to what Harper is actually saying and doing. Being uncommitted at this point, I have recently been examining all three candidates' websites and any other information I can find about them.

My initial assessment is that Harper has by far the most detailed and conservative platform. I especially like his recent emphasis on abolishing the AMT and holding the line on taxes in general, as well as his related advice to both the Governor and the Assembly to avoid adding more spending programs during this year's short legislative session.

One concern I've had about Harper since the start of last fall's ad campaign, has been his eagerness to identify himself with KERA, considered by many conservatives to be pedagogically unsound and a step backward for an already weak educational curriculum. However, reading the proposals in the commission report which Harper has advertised, as well as a couple of media comments he has made (including his willingness to discuss school choice in a positive light) has given me reason to be optimistic.

My conclusion upon further research is that although Harper may not fully understand why KERA was a flawed pedagogical model from the beginning, he at least sees the act today as in need of serious reform. Many of the commission's recommendations, if enacted with the proper "teeth" of enforcement, would take us in the right direction toward breaking the combined death-grip of the politically-correct teacher's union on one hand, and the cottage-industry Colleges of Education (which turn out an annual crop of poorly-educated new teachers) on the other.

I've been waiting for three years in vain for the incumbent to challenge the educational orthodoxy in this commonwealth in any meaningful way. All I've ever heard from the Governor is his willingness to throw more good dollars after a bad end-product, and one throw-away line about Intelligent Design from which he retreated into silence rather than displaying any courage of his supposed conviction. (Maybe he thought throwing red meat at evangelicals would cause them to rally around him so his other problems would be subsumed.)

I still have not heard anything from Harper on whether he supports the sanctity of human life, so I am not willing yet to jump on the bandwagon. If Harper has a record as an ally of the Right to Life movement, hopefully he will come out soon and say so. This would help many Kentucky Republicans make their primary choices as we truly learn more about the "two politicians and one businessman".

At 6:37 PM, February 09, 2007, Anonymous JacksonCow said...

You are right about Fletcher and throwing money... Education receives enough dollars... Let's put those dollars to work...


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