Saturday, November 08, 2014

Crit Luallen's delusional fan club reactivated; Thayer notes Abramson's nudity

The worst part about the announcement of Jerry Abramson's departure to Obamaland and the appointment of Crit Luallen to succeed him as lieutenant governor has been the cascade of praise that's been heaped on one of the most malignant political figures in Kentucky's recent history.

Luallen drew praise from leaders in both parties when she was named as Abramson's replacement to finish out this term with Gov. Steve Beshear. One common thread seemed to be complimentary comments on Luallen's advocacy for good, honest and ethical government?

Either these politicians think it's OK to lie when you're praising someone or they're badly fooled. Luallen has about as much in common with good government as Bill Clinton does with marital fidelity.

Luallen is one of the most ruthless political operatives that's ever ruthlessly politically operated in Kentucky. If she had as many knives sticking out of her back as she's stuck in the backs of so-called friends and allies, it would be quite a collection of cutlery.

During her term as auditor, she earned praise for her office's critical audit of the Blue Grass Airport Board, Kentucky Association of Counties and Kentucky League of Cities. But she also used her office as a partisan tool, rendering critical audits of Republican officeholders even when there were no problems with the books. In one instance, she wrote up a county government led by a Republican county judge-executive for its expenditure of a federal grant even when the county expressly indicated it would be using the grant money for that purpose when it applied.

As disgusted as we were with the fawning over Luallen upon her unwelcome return to the public payroll, we were equally pleased with State Sen. Damon Thayer's comments about Abramson's appointment to the Obama administration. He didn't join everyone else in saying good things about Abramson whether they meant it or not. He noted that Kentucky voters overwhelmingly rejected the Obama agenda on Tuesday night and that Abramson's views mesh perfectly with Obama's, and he urged Abramson to advocate for newly-minted Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's positions in his new White House post.

At least we are buoyed by Luallen's continued insistence that this is a temporary comeback out of retirement for her and that she still has no plans to run for office next year.

But Cabinet members in Beshear's administration should rest a little easier since the lieutenant governor's job in Kentucky is largely ceremonial. Luallen will wield much less power there than she did as executive secretary in Paul Patton's administration. She won't have the opportunity to get them fired in private even as she praises them in public the way she did back then.

Friday, November 07, 2014

Hey Democrats, how's that gerrymandering working out for you?

In Kentucky, Democrats always take care of their own.

It's been that way since time immemorial, whether evidenced by patronage hiring in state government or the awarding of fat contracts to supporters, and especially in drawing up legislative districts.

There have been two great instances of gerrymandering by Democrats in the General Assembly in the past 25 years. The first occurred when Kentucky lost a congressional district after the 1990 census. The most recent effort was an attempt to prop up Ben Chandler in his congressional seat and to reverse years of an increasing Republican presence in the state House of Representatives.

Chandler is the grandson of legendary Kentucky political figure A.B. "Happy" Chandler -- Ben's real name is Albert Benjamin Chandler III -- and was elected to Congress in 2004 in a special election to succeed Ernie Fletcher, against whom he ran and lost for governor in 2003.

Chandler should have been able to bank on the goodwill of his family name and stay in Congress as long as he wanted to, but he became vulnerable in 2009 when he voted for the controversial "cap-and-trade" energy bill that was widely viewed as being harmful to Kentucky's coal industry. He even got a special dispensation from Nancy Pelosi and the rest of his party's overlords to vote against Obamacare the following year to preserve his political viability, but that wasn't enough. Chandler basically went into hiding for the next two years, refusing to conduct public meetings or interact with constituents so he could explain himself -- including subsequent votes against repeal of Obamacare once Republicans took control of the House in 2010.

Sensing Chandler's vulnerability after a close loss to Andy Barr in 2010, his benefactors in the state House of Representatives redrew the Sixth District's boundaries in 2012 to bring more Democrat voters into the district. A number of conservative areas were moved to other neighboring districts, while Wolfe County -- which for years was part of the old Seventh District bastion of Carl D. Perkins -- was moved into the Bluegrass district.

It didn't help. Chandler lost his 2012 re-election rematch to Barr, despite the influx of friendly voters, and then Barr trounced his Democrat opponent earlier this week.

As for the state House, Republicans have slowly but surely chipping at the Democrats' majority. It's gone from nearly a 75-25 minority to almost a 50-50 tie. House districts were in limbo for the 2012 elections following a legal challenge to the legislative districts, but firm boundaries were set last year for this year's election. In that context, the Republicans' ability to hold steady at 46 members in this week's House races is almost as good as one could expect, the "Flip The House" hopes notwithstanding.

Democrats can't be too happy that they didn't take back the Sixth District congressional seat and didn't regain any lost ground in the state House, despite their best efforts. So, to paraphrase Sarah Palin, "How's that gerrymandering thing working out for ya?"

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

After last night's loss, what's next for the Lundergans?

Alison Lundergan Grimes was banking on the fact that she's not Mitch McConnell to carry her to victory in the just-concluded U.S. Senate race.

She found out, in decisive fashion that exceeded even the most optimistic Republican's wildest dreams, that it wasn't.

She failed to convince the electorate that she had anything better to offer them than the five-term Republican incumbent.

So, what's next for the daughter of notorious Democrat leader (and proven corrupt politician) Jerry Lundergan?

We've heard from a number of separate and varied sources that she is contemplating running for governor next year. No doubt that would really please Jerry Lundergan. We can see him drooling all over himself at the prospect of being able to hand out state jobs and big fat contracts to supporters as the de facto governor in an Alison Lundergan Grimes administration. We wouldn't be at all surprised if the Lundergan machine hadn't really planned all along to use this year's Senate race as a warmup for a run at the Governor's Mansion next year.

But the question we have is, would she do such a thing so soon after she enjoyed Jack Conway's support for her just-ended campaign? The Lundergans and Steve Beshear have had a well-publicized feud for years, but they temporarily buried that hatchet for the Senate election. So far, Conway is the only Democrat who's announced plans to run for governor, and it's believed that Beshear will support him in his race, whether or not he draws any opposition. Alison's campaign enjoyed unified support from Kentucky Democrats, with Conway playing a leading role. Would Lundergan Grimes slap Conway in the face so soon after enjoying his support?

The Republicans' failure to gain any ground in taking control of the state House of Representatives is sure to embolden any thoughts Greg Stumbo may have about running for governor, and so far he's been noncommittal when asked about the prospects in the aftermath of yesterday's election. It would be highly unusual for the Democrats not to put up a spirited fight for the gubernatorial nomination, but any challengers to Conway need to emerge quickly. He's already been consolidating support within the party even as the two announced Republican candidates, Jamie Comer and Hal Heiner, work to raise money and build name recognition.

So, if Lundergan Grimes chooses not to challenge Conway, what will she do next year? Will she run for re-election as secretary of state? Will she instead choose to run for the attorney general's office that Conway will be vacating? And will she try again for the U.S. Senate in two years, when Rand Paul may be on the ballot both for re-election to his seat and as a candidate for president?

We wouldn't be a bit surprised if she doesn't rub Conway's nose in it and goes for governor next year. Her father craves power, and he could certainly wield it as his daughter's top advisor. if she did get elected, we have no doubt who'd really be making all the decisions.

While no one will confuse us for Mitch McConnell fans, we are certainly happy that the Lundergan offspring didn't emerge victorious last night. Her family's ways are the major reason Kentucky lags behind in so many vital categories. It's not business as usual in the Bluegrass State anymore. Old-style political shenanigans as practiced by Jerry Lundergan are no longer how things get done here. We've moved beyond that type of corruption.