Wednesday, August 27, 2008

In Mongiardo's remarks, an opportunity and a challenge for Kentucky GOP

During some of Lt. Gov. Dan Mongiardo's remarks in Denver concerning the candidacy of Bruce Lunsford for U.S. Senate, he pointed out that there are 1.7 Democrats to every one Republican in the Commonwealth of Kentucky. He used that statistic as a call for Democrat unity, saying that sheer numbers are on the Democrats' side.

This is a challenge for Kentucky Republicans trying to win statewide office. While Kentucky generally votes along conservative lines in federal elections, when it comes to state races, most voters can't seem to get past the party identification.

And it doesn't help when the minority party is splintered, as it was last year when far too many Republicans took the side of Democrat Attorney General Greg Stumbo over their own incumbent governor, Ernie Fletcher.

We've long believed that Kentucky Democrats bear little resemblance to their party mates in Boston or San Francisco. Ideologically, we believe most Kentuckians are truly Republicans at heart. They oppose abortion, support the Second Amendment, want lower taxes, think a strong America is good for the country and the world, and think that our government and schools should operate on a sound moral footing. They express beliefs that are more in keeping with the GOP's ideals, yet they dutifully trudge to the polls every four years and elect Democrats like Steve Beshear and Brereton Jones and Paul Patton, who turn around and echo their national party's viewpoints when they endorse someone like Barack Obama over John McCain.

Mongiardo's remark about the Democrats' strength in numbers should serve as a strong motivational point for the Republican Party of Kentucky to change that figure. The question is, will they?

There's plenty of fruit for the picking. We've heard lots of people say they'd like to register as Republicans, but their county is controlled by one party, all the local offices are decided in the primary, and they want a say in who will be their county judge, sheriff, etc., so they remain Democrats.

There are also lots of conservative Democrats out there who are more in tune philosophically with the GOP, but they remain loyal to the party of their fathers and grandfathers. They can be convinced that it's OK to think independently and be educated as to why the Democrats of today are nothing like the Democrats of their forefathers' generations.

It's time for the RPK to make a statewide appeal to these conservative Democrats and encourage them to switch, and to quit voting for the statewide candidates offered by a party that has left them behind.

A couple of years ago, just such an effort was made in the Purchase area of Western Kentucky. Mark Nickolas went apoplectic over this conversion drive. Unfortunately, his link to the actual newspaper ad image is gone (guess that's what happens when you move off and turn over maintenance of your site to some clueless partisan hack) but we remember the ad as being an accurate description of Republicans vs. Democrats.

This needs to be done all across Kentucky, even in some of those seemingly hopeless counties in the Old 7th like Breathitt, Knott and Floyd. There's a reason Barack Obama lost big to Hillary Clinton in the mountains. It's not because he's too black, as some Kentucky leftists would have you believe. It's because he's too liberal, even for the region that gave us Congressman Carl D. Perkins (Socialist-Hindman).

Next year is an election-free year. Unless there are a few special or local option elections, there will be no elections next year. We'll elect local officials in 2010, then a governor again in 2011. Since there are no election battles to fight next year, it's time for the RPK to undertake a massive voter registration drive, with an emphasis on convincing Democrats to switch. The RPK needs to appeal to their morality as well as common-sense economic issues such as tax cuts and gas prices. No expense should be spared.

Maybe in a couple of years, when Mongiardo is talking about party unity, he can say that there are only 1.3 Democrats for every Republican. Or even better, he'll have to say that the Republicans now outnumber Democrats in the Bluegrass and his party will have to undertake a voter conversion drive.

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