NOTE: As this was being posted, the news broke that Johnathan Miller is dropping out of the race and supporting Steve Beshear. Therefore we are removing our analysis of Miller's candidacy from this outlook...
And our hats are off to David Adams at Kentucky Progress for predicting this one!
Anne Northup’s overriding campaign message during her attempt to unseat her party’s first Republican governor since 1971, and the first one in modern times to be eligible for re-elect, is that Ernie Fletcher cannot win in the fall.
Indeed, ever since Greg Stumbo began his unprecedented criminal investigation into alleged hiring improprieties, the cry from some within the Republican Party has been that Fletcher could not be re-elected.
We have to wonder if those Republicans bothered to look back then at the list of potential Democrat gubernatorial candidates – or, since the field has materialized, they have bothered to analyze the contenders.
For Northup or any Republican to continue to say that Fletcher cannot win re-election in the fall is ridiculous. Each of the Democrat slates has serious flaws that, if properly exploited, will be fatal regardless of the merit system probe being hung around Fletcher’s neck. The fact that Northup continues to use that theme as her main campaign shows that she really has no ideas.
But this isn’t about Northup. It’s about the weak Democrat field that 65 percent of Kentucky’s voters will be choosing a nominee from in two weeks.
There are no Billy Donovans, or even Billy Gillispies, in this bunch. What’s there instead is a collection of has-beens, never-wases, wannabes and pretenders. None are fit to be elected governor of this state.
Here’s a closer look at each of the four slates considered as serious contenders in the Democrat field, listed alphabetically:Beshear/Mongiardo:
Of all the Democrats, Beshear will be the least able to use the hiring scandal against Fletcher. The allegations are that the Fletcher administration illegally used political affiliation as a key point in selecting persons to fill merit system vacancies. Only one of the indictments handed down by the grand jury involved an existing merit employee, and it concerned the firing of a merit employee who was not yet off probation.
However, during the John Y. Brown administration from 1979-83, there were widespread firings of employees who were protected by the merit system. Those employees went through the administrative procedures and civil courts to get their jobs back, and there was no criminal prosecution of Brown or his administration.
Who was the attorney general during Brown’s term as governor? Steve Beshear. Beshear failed to prosecute the violations of merit system law during Brown’s term. Therefore, Beshear will have no moral authority to bring up Fletcher’s personnel situation because Beshear’s inaction arguably set the precedent for how alleged merit law violations should be handled in this state – a precedent Stumbo failed to follow, for his own political purposes.
As to Dan Mongiardo, Beshear’s running mate, his ethics problems regarding DANPAC appear to have been settled, but Dr. Dan has a nagging personal situation that probably won’t play well. Will the voters of Kentucky approve of a man in his mid-40s dating someone in her late teens and early 20s before becoming engaged to her? How will the image of Mongiardo the cradle-robber play to middle-aged female voters?Henry/True:
Henry’s problems are well-known. His early strong showing in the polls appears to be fading as more problems become evident. Medical billing problems, a malpractice suit and now allegations of campaign finance improprieties are dogging him. Plus, he has the Paul Patton albatross hanging around his neck. Even though he was not particularly close to the governor he served as lieutenant governor, he was still part of the team and he didn’t bail like Crit Luallen did.
Renee True isn’t as well-known as some of the other running mates, but the press has uncovered a few problems with hiring during her term as Fayette County PVA. Since she’s the daughter of disgraced former Fayette Sheriff Lones Taulbee, expect her father’s woes to be visited upon her.Lunsford/Stumbo:
Where to start with this ticket? Democrats are angry with Lunsford for dropping out of the ’03 primary in anger over an attack ad run by Ben Chandler, then the still-seething Lunsford endorsing Fletcher over Chandler. Many are threatening to either sit the race out or to actually vote for Fletcher should Lunsford be the nominee.
The issues concerning Lunsford’s nursing home company’s financial collapse were prominent four years ago and are just as prominent today.
And then there’s Stumbo. Republicans detest him for his unprecedented criminal investigation of the Fletcher administration’s hiring practices; Democrats are angry with him for agreeing to dismiss three misdemeanor charges against Fletcher. The unprofessional way Stumbo’s AG office conducted the investigation leaves no doubt that the probe was politically motivated to harm Fletcher’s re-election chances.
Don’t forget Stumbo’s tumultuous personal life. The man fathered a child out of wedlock, then failed to pay child support for many years. When the mother of his child finally sued for back payments, Stumbo filed a countersuit, claiming she was trying to harass and politically harm him. Plus, there’s the infamous disappearing DUI charge from his home county in which Stumbo claimed – and a hometown judge bought the “explanation” – that the reason Stumbo was found alone drunk and at the scene of a vehicle crash was that he was so drunk he had forgotten to mention that he’d had a designated driver, who’d gone for help after the wreck. Yeah, right…Richards/Brown:
The House speaker’s numbers are also down there in Gatewood-land, so at this point he is probably not a serious contender for the Democrat nomination. Richards’ legislative record could be a negative, and if he brings up the merit system investigation …. well, wonder how many recommendation letters he’s written in the past?
His running mate is the son of the former governor and really has not made much of a name for himself in a previous term as a down-ticket statewide officeholder, but his dad’s merit system violations give him little room to talk about that situation in the current administration.
So there you have it …. the flaws and warts of the Democrats’ major contenders are exposed for all to see.
If you still think Ernie Fletcher can’t win re-election this fall against any of these four second-rate candidates, you haven’t been paying attention.