Tags: Steve Beshear

The Democrats’ Dark Horses of 2016


Don’t Expect Much Drama in Today’s Gubernatorial Races


Today, barring some dramatic upset, the Republicans and Democrats will each retain one governor’s mansion.

In Mississippi, Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant leads the most recent poll, 54 percent to 40 percent, over his Democratic challenger, Hattiesburg Mayor Johnny DuPree.

Yesterday evening, Haley Barbour appeared on Fox News and declared, “Unless something happens unusual, Phil Bryant will get elected if there is a large turnout. And Mississippi in the last five governors elections, Republicans have won four, the one governor’s election won by a liberal Democrat was because we had an unusually small turnout and that’s why Republicans are hoping that we do have a big turnout would be to Phil Bryant and the Republican ticket’s advantage.”

Republicans are expected to do well in the state legislative races and other statewide races, except for state attorney general, Jim Hood, the only remaining Democrat elected statewide, is expected to win reelection. At the right-leaning Majority in Mississippi site, they think a shift in control of the State Senate could be in the works: “Currently Democrats have a 68-54 advantage (was 75-47 following the last election). Republicans need eight seats to get to the magic number of 62 needed for a majority. Can they do it? I can see Republicans picking up anywhere from 3 to 9 seats so that is basically me ducking the issue. These races are small, local, and we just can’t always get a feel on how they will turn out until the voters head to the polls. I expect to see a couple surprises.”

For the GOP, Kentucky is a frustrating missed opportunity. Incumbent Democrat Gov. Steve Beshear has not been tainted by President Obama’s unpopularity in the state at all, and the GOP nominee, State Senate President David Williams, is polling exceptionally poorly. How poorly? “According to the SurveyUSA poll released last week, 30% of likely Republican voters plan to vote for Steve Beshear; the Democratic incumbent.  40% of conservatives plan to vote for Beshear. Even 21% of voters who identify with the tea party plan to vote for Beshear.”

For what it is worth, Williams is still talking up his chances of an upset: “Williams talked earlier in the day about surprising the Democrats. “We’ve had a tremendous closing two or three weeks here. We’ve been out all over the state. … I think the informed people of this state are going turn up tomorrow at the election and we’re going to have an upset victory,” he said during a morning appearance in Louisville.”

Tags: David Williams , Johnny DuPree , Phil Bryant , Steve Beshear

State Employee Shakedowns in Kentucky?


At the moment, the outlook for Republicans in the Kentucky governor’s face looks pretty grim:

Gov. Steve Beshear holds a commanding 24-point lead over his challenger, Senate President David Williams, in Kentucky’s governor’s race, according to the latest Courier-Journal/WHAS11 Bluegrass Poll.

The poll found that Beshear leads Williams 52 percent to 28 percent and that the incumbent governor is ahead in all but three demographic areas. Independent Gatewood Galbraith is a distant third with 9 percent of the vote.

Conducted by SurveyUSA, the poll is based on computerized and live telephone interviews carried out from July 22– to 27. It includes the responses of 512 likely voters in the Nov. 8 governor’s race and has a margin of error of 4.4 percentage points.

That was the news Sunday; today brings a development that may well shake up the race:

A veteran state employee has alleged in a letter delivered to Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway’s office Monday that some government workers were threatened with termination if they did not contribute to Democratic Governor Steve Beshear’s re-election campaign.

Rodney Young is a psychologist with the Department of Juvenile Justice and made the accusation in a letter dated July 27. Hoping to bring attention to “abuses of authority,” Young lists a dozen employees in the department who he alleges were threatened, adding an aide of the governor told his co-workers last year that they could lose their jobs if they didn’t give a $500 donation to Beshear’s re-election bid.

“In my 27 years in state government, I have never seen such an audacious and systematic approach to using state government as an arm to raise money for a political campaign,” Young wrote. “It is my hope that you will use the information in this letter to bring attention to this activity and to permanently separate public service from political solicitations.”

A Conway spokesperson says the attorney general’s office has received the complaint and will handle it according to their investigative protocol.

Note the complaint predates the poll.

You remember Jack Conway; he’s the Democratic Senate candidate who accused of Rand Paul of Aqua Buddha in a late ad last year – an ad called “ugly” and “demagogic” by notable right-wingers like, er, Ezra Klein. Yes, this is precisely the fellow who I want investigating allegations of election shenanigans on the part of Democratic candidates.

UPDATE: Hmmm. A pattern?

Dr. Patrick Sheridan confirmed to Pure Politics that this winter he received a phone call to his unlisted home number from Justice and Public Safety Cabinet Deputy Secretary Charles Geveden, who asked him to write a $1,000 check to Beshear’s campaign.

Sheridan said he wrote a $500 check to the Beshear campaign with a note attached. The note said the check was being written in response to a personal call from Geveden.

Some time later, his check was returned in the mail, Sheridan said.

Sheridan is a long-time non-merit employee in the cabinet. His name was one of 13 listed in a letter from another Justice Cabinet employee alleging strong-arm tactics by Geveden. Dr. Rodney Young sent that letter to the Republican Party of Kentucky, which has asked for an investigation.

It is against state law for an administration to target appointed state workers for political fundraising unless those solicitations are made “as part of an overall plan to contact voters not identified as state employees,” the law says.

Tags: David Williams , Jack Conway , Kentucky , Steve Beshear

RGA Takes to the Airwaves in Kentucky


Kentucky is one of four states having a gubernatorial race this year, and the Republican Governors Association is already up on the air:

The Republican Governors Association launched a television advertisement today outlining how Kentucky’s economy has suffered over the past four years and highlighting David Williams’ plan to get Kentucky working again.

The ad can be viewed at

“While nearly every state has suffered during the economic downturn, few have fared worse than Kentucky,” said RGA spokesman Mike Schrimpf. “On Steve Beshear’s watch, unemployment has skyrocketed and Kentucky now has the worst unemployment rate in the region.”

“Kentucky can’t afford to continue trailing its neighboring states. It needs a leader like David Williams who will fight to put Kentuckians back to work,” Schrimpf said. David Williams will support small business to create jobs and stand up to Obama’s job-killing policies.”

Tags: David Williams , RGA , Steve Beshear

Can the GOP Nationalize Kentucky’s Governor’s Race?


In Kentucky, David Williams won the GOP gubernatorial primary, as expected. He’ll take on incumbent Democrat Gov. Steve Beshear, who held a healthy lead in polls of the hypothetical match-up back in April. As we’ve seen in many other Southern, conservative-leaning states, the GOP effort will try to tie the Democrat to President Obama, although there’s an interesting wrinkle in this race: Williams argues that Beshear has distanced himself from the president so much, he’s done it at inappropriate times:

Though Williams said it is no surprise he will not support Democratic President Barack Obama for re-election next year, he said Beshear was wrong earlier this month when he did not go to Fort Campbell to honor soldiers with the president.

Williams said he would have “stood side by side” with Obama “to honor the troops.”

There are four governor’s races this fall, but West Virginia looks like a steep climb for Republicans, Mississippi looks like safe ground for the GOP, and in Louisiana, Democrats are still looking for a candidate to take on incumbent Bobby Jindal. So Kentucky may be the premiere fight this November:

Though Democrats outnumber Republicans 1.63 million to 1.08 million in Kentucky, Democratic political consultant Danny Briscoe thinks the race will be “close, competitive and the most expensive ever.”

He said both candidates will have sufficient campaign funds to get out their messages.

The race will be close because Kentucky is “Republican in attitude,” Briscoe said, noting that Republicans hold both of the state’s U.S. Senate seats and four of six U.S. House seats.

Expect to see the entire federal Republican delegation campaign for Williams, Briscoe said.

The race may see $15 million to $20 million spent, Briscoe said, noting that various groups will be interested in it since it is one of only four governor races in the nation this fall.

UPDATE: A Washington Republican watching this race closely tells me, “Kentucky’s employment rate is the sixth-worst in the nation and worse than all its neighbors, including hard-hit Ohio. Last month it was tied with Michigan. Worst of all, Kentucky doesn’t seem to be recovering at the pace of its neighboring states. Beshear has some strong ties to Obama – strong proponent of the stimulus, supported Obamacare and has even sided with Obama on some regulation of coal and energy production, all of which can be tied back to jobs and pocketbook issues.”

Is this race is comparable to the 2009 off-year gubernatorial races? The New Jersey race also featured a Democrat incumbent, but incumbent Democrat Jon Corzine entered his reelection campaign widely disliked on a scale that just doesn’t apply to Beshear. However, Bob McDonnell did manage to ride an anti-Washington, anti-tax, anti-spending mood to his big win over Creigh Deeds, so there may be some parallels there…

Tags: Barack Obama , David Williams , Kentucky , Steve Beshear

Governor Caught Using State Jet for Campaign Events


So, what’s new with the one incumbent Democratic governor who’s up for reelection this year?

Gov. Steve Beshear will reimburse the state for using a state plane for a political event Monday, his campaign manager said Friday.

Beshear’s campaign manager, Bill Hyers, acknowledged that the governor, a Democrat, attended a political event late Monday in Louisa. The stop came during two days of traveling around the state to gain public support for his Medicaid plan.

Beshear said Monday morning at a stop in Lexington that he was using a state airplane to urge the public to call Senate Republicans to side with his Medicaid plan to avoid cuts in state agencies and education.

He contended that his trips to nine Kentucky cities during the first two days of a special legislative session to try to resolve the Medicaid issue were not related to his re-election campaign.

Well, look, anybody can make a mistake once, right? Oh.

In the 2007 race for governor, Fletcher’s opponents criticized him for his use of state aircraft.

Fletcher repaid the state $19,359.21 for use of official aircraft to attend 35 campaign events.

Lest you think every governor does this sort of thing . . .

The “ultimate symbol of waste and excess.” That’s how Republican Gov. Susana Martinez views New Mexico’s executive jet.

She vowed during her campaign to get rid of the Cessna Citation Bravo, and now her administration is working to do just that.

The seven-seat plane is already up for sale on the governor’s website and the site of the state General Services Department, but the listings have failed to garner any serious inquires. Officials began seeking bids Friday for an aviation broker who can help find a buyer.

Tags: Steve Beshear , Susana Martinez

The Candidates Are Set in Kentucky


Kentucky’s filing deadline for public office has passed. While there are seven statewide races on the ballot, the governor’s race will make the biggest splash outside the state:

Gov. Steve Beshear will not have an opponent in the May Democratic primary for governor, while Republican front-runner and state Senate President David Williams will have two. In the Republican primary, Williams and his running mate, Agriculture Commissioner Richie Farmer, will face Jefferson County Clerk Barbara “Bobbie” Holsclaw, running with retired Navy officer and Jefferson County teacher Bill Vermillion Jr.; and Phil Moffett, a Louisville businessman whose running mate is state Rep. Mike Harmon of Danville.

Jack Conway, last seen running a horrific ad that suggested his opponent was a lunatic cultist and losing to Rand Paul, is running for reelection as attorney general. His Republican opponent will be Todd P’Pool, and no, that is not a typo. Suggested chant: “The P’Pool! United! Will never be defeated!”

Tags: David Williams , Jack Conway , Steve Beshear , Todd P'Pool

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