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.