Republican Gov. Ernie Fletcher has been nominated for reelection in Kentucky. He will face former Lt. Gov. Steve Beshear in the general election. Former Rep. Ann Northup fell short in her GOP primary challenge to Fletcher, who had a rocky start to his first term — which is the most charitable way one might describe being indicted in a corruption probe. The race has national significance in at least two ways. First, it’s the highest-profile office in the country this year in which a Democrat stands a good chance of unseating a Republican incumbent. Second, Kentucky’s two U.S. senators were part of the Fletcher-Northup story:
Northup said during the race that such a record rendered Fletcher “unelectable” in the fall general election, in which Fletcher will face Democrat Steve Beshear.
“Well, I guess we’ve answered the electability question,” Fletcher said, smiling broadly to open his speech.
Some of Fletcher’s ardent supporters hailed the strong win as both vindication and an inoculation from future attacks by Democrats on the hiring probe.
“She said every ugly thing she could about him and she’s defeated,” said Lexington lawyer Larry Forgy, the GOP nominee for governor in 1995.
Forgy and Warren Scoville, the Laurel County Republican chairman, both said the results are a smack at Kentucky’s U.S. senators, Jim Bunning, who backed Northup, and Mitch McConnell, who remained publicly neutral.
“They (Republican voters) resent the hell out of Mitch McConnell and Jim Bunning leaving the governor when he had some minor problems. Republicans don’t like that. Republicans stay hitched,” Scoville said.