A wild two weeks in Kentucky politics
Things have been happening at a fast and furious pace on the Kentucky political scene the past two weeks.
We've had fireworks in the 2nd and 3rd District congressional races, high drama among the Democrats in the U.S. Senate race, an eye-opening special election for Lt. Gov. Dan Mongiardo's old seat, and dissent in the ranks of both party structures. Add to that the ongoing General Assembly session and its attendant drama, and it's easy to see why it's been hard to keep up with all the comings and goings.
Here are some quick thoughts on some of the recent doings:
2nd District Race:
We're not going to pile on outgoing Congressman Ron Lewis, like many have. He was under absolutely no obligation to inform anyone of his plans. It's a free country and anyone can file to run for office. His decision to retire was unexpected and we don't have a problem with how it was handled. The subsequent decision by his chief of staff Daniel London to withdraw from the race has paved the way for Brett Guthrie to be the nominee, and he'll be a great candidate to run against whichever candidate the Democrats nominate, Reid Haire or David Boswell.
3rd District Race:
We've touched on the Chris Thieneman situation, in which he claims he was forced out by Jefferson County Republican leaders to give former Rep. Anne Northup a clear shot at the nomination. We and others have been very critical of Jefferson County GOP Chair Jack Richardson IV not for his role in Thieneman's decision, but for his statements that party leaders are better qualified to select the nominee than are party voters. We're pleased to hear that Richardson is stepping down as county chair in the state's largest county and we hope that Jefferson Countians will pick a loyal Republican for their chair, one who puts the interests of the party and its voters first and foremost ahead of narrow interests. Northup has a great chance to take her seat back from John Yarmuth and while we still haven't forgiven her for her challenge of Gov. Fletcher, we hope she wins.
Democratic Senate Race:
Bruce Lunsford got into the race, supposedly at the urging of high-power national Democrats and Gov. Steve Beshear. Unexpectedly, Andrew Horne -- the choice of the most liberal of Kentucky Democrats-- got out of the race. He hasn't stated why, but speculation is he was forced out by Beshear or other Democrat leaders. Many Democrats in Kentucky are still upset at Lunsford because he endorsed Ernie Fletcher over Ben Chandler in the 2003 governor's race after Lunsford dropped out, but they forget that Lunsford had a very good personal reason for doing so. He was the target of one of the most vicious and unfair personal attack ads launched by the Chandler campaign, and it would be stretching the bounds of reality to think he should suffer such a slander without retaliating. The most leftist of Democrats thought Horne would be a formidable challenger to Mitch McConnell, but they were kidding themselves. Horne was a weak, one-issue candidate whose backing came primarily from the the Democratic fringe, and he was little-known outside of Louisville. Democrats seem to be conceding the fall race to McConnell, but the truth is Horne was never much of a threat.
30th District Race:
A number of factors were in play here to push Republican State Rep. Brandon Smith into the Senate seat formerly held by the Democrat lieutenant governor. Many Democrats in the district were unhappy that the governor and lieutenant governor preferred Scott Alexander as the nominee, but the reality was that Roger Noe (the former state representative from Harlan County who openly coveted the nomination) was not a viable candidate and could not have won election in the district. The outcome was embarrassing for the Beshear/Mongiardo team and the Democrat leadership in Kentucky, and probably means that casino gambling is a moot point as the legislative session moves along.
Speaking of the legislative session, it's disturbing to see bad public policy coming out of the General Assembly faster than the Kentucky Wildcats missed shots and made turnovers against Vanderbilt last night. But it's harder to determine which is happening at a quicker pace, bad legislation being passed or the Beshear administration screwing up.