Friday, April 20, 2007

Time for McConnell to be dethroned?

We would never advocate for the defeat of Mitch McConnell as he defends his Senate seat. He has achieved a leadership position that can only benefit the Bluegrass State, and we would never encourage anyone within the party to run against him in the primary.

However, we are coming to the conclusion that it's time for McConnell's reign as the godfather of Republican politics in Kentucky to come to an end. And it's our observation that many other Republicans out in the state are coming to the same realization as they chafe under McConnell's de-facto leadership of the party.

McConnell's acts during the Ernie Fletcher gubernatorial administration have been deplorable. Fletcher enjoyed McConnell's unabashed support in 2003 and was widely acknowledged to be his chosen candidate. McConnell enjoyed a prominent place on the stage in Lexington on that November evening in 2003 when Fletcher celebrated his milestone victory.

But when Fletcher came under attack from the Democrats, McConnell vanished. Given countless opportunities to denounce Fletcher's Democrat critics, McConnell stayed silent. Never was heard a disparaging word against Greg Stumbo. With just a few well-timed and sufficiently sarcastic comments, the Godfather could have cut the legs out from under Stumbo.

As time went on, not only did McConnell stay silent, but it became apparent he was going to support a challenge to the incumbency. Can there be any doubt that McConnell is behind the candidacy of Anne Northup?

We find it ironic that McConnell has recently been promoting a "unity rally" for Republicans after the gubernatorial primary is over. It is probably not coincidental that this call for unity came after Fletcher's strength began to solidify and he showed signs of pulling away from Northup in pre-election polling.

We believe the disloyal and disgusting way in which McConnell has treated his own party's governor and the man he supported and was suppposedly friends with would be cause enough for him to lose his position as titular head of the GOP, but that belief is bolstered by McConnell's actions in the 1999 governor's race.

Back then, Paul Patton was the first Kentucky governor to run for re-election since Kentuckians approved a constitutional amendment allowing gubernatorial succession. Patton was perceived to be strong, but he had a few glaring weaknesses that the right GOP candidate could have exploited. Unfortunately, the Republicans failed to field a credible candidate and the party gave absolutely no support to Peppy Martin, the brave woman who filed and ran.

It was widely believed that McConnell and Patton had brokered a deal; that Patton had agreed not to challenge McConnell for the Senate seat in 2002 if in turn McConnell agreed not to recruit a credible GOP candidate to run against Patton. Of course that left poor old Jim Bunning exposed to a possible Senate run by Patton in 2004, one year after Patton left office as governor, but the Tina Conner sex scandal torpedoed Patton's political career and got McConnell off the hook for that one.

No concrete proof of such a McConnell-Patton deal ever emerged, but there's plenty of anectodal evidence to support such a theory. The lack of a serious challenge to Patton angered a lot of Republicans across the state, but most of them deferred to McConnell out of respect.

Many of these same Republican loyalists out in the state aren't in such a forgiving mood this time. They're angry at Greg Stumbo and the Democrats for what happened to Fletcher, and they're angry at McConnell and this state's leading Republicans for surrendering and not firing a shot in Fletcher's defense.

It could be time for Hal Rogers to step up. It's widely known that McConnell and Rogers don't get along, partly because of party control issues. Rogers is the dean of Kentucky's federal delegation with four more years of service than McConnell has. Rogers has an ego the size of Lake Cumberland (at summer pool, not the lower level we're seeing this year) and although he is not publicly taking sides in the Fletcher-Northup battle, his staff members and his loyalists are firmly in the Fletcher camp, and they don't breathe without clearing it through Hal.

Mitch McConnell deserves credit for the ascention of the Republican Party to serious status in Kentucky, but it's obvious that he hasn't acted in the party's best interests at all times. His failure to quickly and forcefully react to the Democrat attacks on Gov. Fletcher, and his actions since then, are prime evidence.

It's time for McConnell's reign to end. Let's hand the reins of the state GOP to someone else with vision and determination and most importantly, a sense of loyalty.


At 1:54 PM, April 20, 2007, Blogger M. Sheldon said...

I think it's high time someone take control of the party. Assume the position, and act as such. Mitch is a good majority leader, and a pretty good senator. The "reigns" of the party should lie within the state.

At 2:30 PM, April 20, 2007, Anonymous nicholasville conservative said...

Pac: We don't need another "this town isn't big enough for the two of us" shootout. That's exactly what contributed to the Fletcher-McConnell fallout.

We don't need another politician who has gotten above his raising, by being in DC too long. McConnell, Rogers, Fletcher, Northup and Bunning have all shown symptoms at times during their careeres, of letting high office influence them adversely. (BTW, that became the whole problem with the Republican-led congress leading to its '06 embarrassment.)

I don't want to see the anointment of any elder statesman. I agree with Sheldon, with the caveats that this won't happen overnight and that whoever takes control does so by earning it through innovative outreach to the citizens of KY in the coming years.

I have stated several times on several blogs, that the upcoming GOP nominee (Fletcher judging by the tea leaves, but the comment applies to all three) stands a decent chance of winning in November, thanks more to the continued weakness and blind spots of the opposition party than to any great merit in what the GOP is doing these days. But you're right, K-Pac, that what happens after November is far more important.

We have several up-and-coming legislators, and some citizens who should seek office, who could re-energize conservatives in the days ahead. And hopefully they will learn from both the accomplishments and the mistakes of the mentors who taught them the political trade.

At 5:28 PM, April 20, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

So many of us across the state have grown frustrated and weary of the senator's awkward, back-and-forth silence. He demands loyalty and offers none.
It couldn't have been stated any better than the original piece here. Mitch McConnell has lost the affection of many republicans across the state because he sat on his very high horse at the back of the Governor's battle and watched his troops get cut down one by one.
Makes one wonder if he didn't cut the same kind of deal with Stumbo he supposedly made with Patton.

At 11:11 AM, April 21, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon at 5:28, I was wondering the same thing about the Stumbo witch hunt. If you take a look at all the people who were indicted and pardoned during the merit investigation, they were all the hand picked McConnell people. Not the Fletcher appointee's. This is something that really pisses me off. McConnell is no leader, a good leader would have stepped up and defended his party and his hand picked candidate. When McConnell finally figured out that Fletcher wasn't going to be his puppet he got pissed. Mitch thought he was going to be Senate majority leader and run the state all at the same time and neither panned out for him. Henceforth the Northup entrance into the race as payback. If Fletcher wins this primary and especially again in November, McConnell will look so bad and weak it's pitiful. If Fletcher does win in May, wouldn't be surprised if Mitch brokered a deal with the Dem's to try and keep Fletcher from winning in November so that he can save some face. He stated at the State Lincoln Day dinner that he would support the primary winner. If Fletcher wins, I want to see some outspoken support or I'll campaign against him in the fall and I'm a lifelong Republican and proud of it!

At 9:08 PM, April 21, 2007, Blogger K-Pac II said...

Anon 11:11, we know Dan Druen was a handpicked McConnellite, but we aren't sure about the rest of them.

Tim Henderlight was from Whitley County so Bill Nighbert probably brought him along (he was fired but he was never indicted and no one ever really said why he was fired).

Sam Beverage? He was originally from West Virginia and had gotten hired in Kentucky as a non-merit under Patton, although he was once a GOP gubernatorial candidate in the Mountain State.

Vince Fields? He's from Hal Rogers country.

Cory Meadows? He's from Powell County, which is in Fletcher's old congressional district?

Murgatroyd? Was he a McConnellite?

And we're not sure about the rest of them.

But we do know that Dan Druen was there in Transportation SOLELY because of McConnell and Druen is the one who caused most of the problems. He's the one that came up with the hit list -- we're convinced he did so in a misguided attempt to curry favor with his superiors. There was never a concentrated effort to get rid of Democrat merit employees but there there were efforts to hold back and punish some of them who had been especially prejudicial against Republicans in years past. One of the key figures in the situation was notorious for telling would-be state applicants who were Republicans, even those he'd known for years, that they would have to change their registration to Democrat or they wouldn't even be considered. Republicans in his hometown and elsewhere were salivating at the chance to get a little revenge on him.

At 11:28 AM, April 28, 2007, Anonymous smartRepub said...

Are you suggesting we anoint your messiah, Lord Ernie, as Supreme Leader of the Kentucky Republican Party?
…also, I seem to have detected a violation of Reagan’s 11th Commandment - the bashing of a fellow Republican - Mitch McConnell

At 7:36 AM, May 19, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

US President Tim Kalemkarian, US Senate Tim Kalemkarian, US House Tim Kalemkarian: best major candidate.


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