Wednesday, May 02, 2007



Yesterday we looked at an exciting race shaping up in an ostensibly deep red state, Oklahoma, between lunatic extremist James Inhofe, a cranky old incumbent who might believe the world is flat and who possesses one of the most reactionary voting records of any member of the U.S. Senate, against an attractive and populist young newcomer, State Senator Andrew Rice.

There's another race shaping up in another pretty red state that I'd like to take a look at today: the gubernatorial primary in Kentucky. If you've been following DWT over the last couple years you already  know all about Ernie Fletcher's unbelievable record of corruption. If you'd like to catch up a little, try here and here and here and here... and here. Fletcher seemed so unelectable that Louisville's ex-Congresswoman Anne Northup (beaten in a re-election bid last year due to her rubber stamp posture towards the Bush Regime), decided to challenge him in the primary and has been backed by most of the state's GOP establishment. The most recent SurveyUSA poll, released yesterday, shows Fletcher regaining the lead from Northup. The primary election is May 22 and the survey shows Fletcher leading Northup 46% to 34% as of this past weekend.

A win by Fletcher, whose reputation is unacceptable to normal people, is exactly what Democrats are rooting for. Remember, even though Kentucky has been trending more and more Republican-- with Bush having beat Kerry 60-40% and with Fletcher having won his first term 55-45%-- a healthy majority of voters are registered Democrats. In fact, 57.5% of voters are registered Dems, 36% are Repugs and 6.5% registered with other parties. It's difficult to imagine too many non-GOP base voters mustering much enthusiasm for Fletcher, a convicted criminal.

That brings us to the Democrats. And that isn't good news. Grassroots Democrats and progressives are excited about State Treasurer Jonathan Miller but Kentucky has some really low-information areas once you leave Louisville, Lexington, Bowling Green and Owensboro. Leading the Democratic pack right now is Bruce Lunsford, a fake Democrat who appears nearly as corrupt as Fletcher and as beholden to the same special interests. One local KY blogger has posted a video of Fletcher explaining to his supporters that Lunsford "shares our values." Every indication is that he certainly does-- which is why no Democrat should consider voting for him. The same blogger lists 10 reasons to vote against Lunsford:
10. During the 2006 congressional race, Lunsford personally contributed more money to Anne Northup ($4,100) than to John Yarmuth ($2,000).

9. Four years ago, during the KET Democratic gubernatorial debate, Lunsford vowed to support the Democratic nominee in the general election, but on October 20, 2003, while standing next to his “friend” Sen. Mitch McConnell (R), Lunsford endorsed Ernie Fletcher for governor.

8. Lunsford now promises “I’ll fix our broken health-care system” but as Chairman and CEO of Vencor, he paid $104.5 million to the federal government for Medicare/Medicaid fraud claims.

7. A few months before Vencor publicly admitted to investors about declining revenues and staggering debt in 1997, Lunsford had sold 50,000 shares at $47 apiece, for $2.35 million. Within three months, Vencor was trading at $30/share, and eventually the stock became worthless.

6. On the Vencor Board of Directors at the time of its crash was none other than current U.S. Secretary of Labor, Elaine Chao, also the wife of U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell (R).

5. Following his election as governor in 2003, Fletcher named Lunsford to lead a blue ribbon transition team to re-organize government. Immediately, Lunsford’s team eliminated the Labor Cabinet.

4. After Congress cut Medicaid reimbursements to nursing homes, Lunsford offered cash bonuses to his employees who successfully evicted seniors who relied upon Medicaid to pay their bills so they could fill those beds with higher paying, private patients. This practice was known as “patient dumping.”

3. After Congress passed legislation to outlaw Lunsford’s practice of “patient dumping,” he paid a Washington, DC lobbyist $60,000 to try amend the Social Security Act to allow patient dumping after courts told him to stop and Vencor had been fined $780,000 for trying to kick out 137 residents.

2. Between 1995 and 2000, Lunsford personally donated $52,000 to federal political candidates and parties. Of that amount, $40,250 (77%) went to Republicans, including to both of Kentucky’s Republican senators, four Republican congressmen (Rogers, Whitfield, Lewis, Northup), as well as the Republican Party of Kentucky, Republican National Committee, National Republican Senatorial Committee, and George W. Bush for President.

1. In May 2003, Lunsford dropped out the Democratic gubernatorial primary after polls showed him falling into third place (behind Ben Chandler and Jody Richards). Rather than finish third, Lunsford pulled-up lame and blamed a mean Chandler television ad for his surrender.

Kentucky's BluegrassReport showed Lunsford lifting his entire platform verbatim from failed Florida gubernatorial candidate Jim Davis (although I don't think Davis, unlike Lunsford, supports teaching creationism and religionist superstitions in the public schools).

Many people are focussing on next year's Kentucky senatorial election, an opportunity to rid the Senate of hypocritical closet queen and Bush rubber stamp Mitch McConnell. It won't help to have a close associate of his like Lunsford in the governor's chair. There's one populist running in this race, someone who represents the interests of ordinary people, not of the bribers and special interests, and that's Jonathan Miller. Anything less, will just be more of the same.


I would have preferred to see a progressive like Jonathan Miller as governor of Kentucky, of course, but the bad polling-- and resultant fundraising difficulties-- forced him out of the race this morning. He endorced a solid moderate, Steve Beshear. There are two important dynamics in this primary: to choose a real Democrat who can take on and beat the Republican and to offer voters in Kentucky a discernable choice. Lunsford is as much a Democrat as Zeller Miller, Harold Ford or Joe Lieberman. It isn't about Democratic principles or values or ideals with any of these crooks; it's all about themselves and their selfish ambitions. Lunsford might be the worst of the lot, as hard as that is to fathom.

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