HOT: Gov. Steve Beshear earned respect for his bold and effective implementation of Obamacare and expansion of Medicaid. Now Beshear says he will, albeit belatedly, offer a tax reform proposal. He cultivated a healthy working relationship with Republicans, which may help in this difficult budget session. Halfway through his second term, Beshear remains popular, even as he has presided over tough economic times.
NOT: House Speaker Greg Stumbo stepped in it when he recently compared Sen. Mitch McConnell to Nazis. Stumbo did not use that word, but his meaning was clear, and it clearly crossed the line. He made matters worse by saying that the name “senator” was “too good” for McConnell. It is one thing to be funny, as Stumbo often is, but another to be so utterly disrespectful of a political opponent, as Stumbo was.
HOT: Republican U.S. Sen. Rand Paul is second in the Real Clear Politics average of polls for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination. The frontrunner, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, has taken a hard political hit from the traffic scandal, and an ongoing investigation threatens to do more damage. Meanwhile, Paul is getting plenty of positive press for his positions on government surveillance, restoring felons’ voting rights and spending restraint. His influence is expanding the state Republican realm as candidates increasingly align with him and seek his support.
NOT: A recent Human Events/Gravis poll showed Republican U.S. Senate candidate Matt Bevin behind McConnell by a formidable 53 percent to 31 percent. A recently released video and related article in National Review Online revealed confusion from Bevin about whether the problem in Washington was too much partisanship or too much compromise. Bevin looks like a guy who is going to have trouble handling the scrutiny he will face when the race heats up.
HOT: Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer recently reorganized the Louisville Metro Air Pollution Control District. Once again, he has cleaned up a mess inherited from the administration of his mayoral predecessor, Lt. Gov. Jerry Abramson. After audits and reviews revealed a raft of problems at the agency, Fischer replaced Abramson’s appointed executive director. Fischer is also earning respect for his work supporting a local option sales tax in Kentucky. He is poised to win re-election without any credible competition.
NOT: Already too closely linked to President Barack Obama, who is wildly unpopular in Kentucky, Democratic Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes had Obama’s idea to increase the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour a major part of her campaign. Stumbo’s gaffe overshadowed the release of her so-called jobs plan. She did not know how much her plan would cost or how many jobs it would create. Her policy director was the chief editorial writer at The Courier-Journal, which is another way of saying she is way out of step with ordinary Kentuckians.
HOT: Auditor Adam Edelen has not made a misstep since winning election in 2011. His special examination of Dayton’s independent school district produced a criminal conviction of the former superintendent and returned more than $500,000 to taxpayers. Edelen’s top legislative priority, a cyber-security measure requiring governments to notify citizens if their personal information is disclosed, has broad bipartisan backing. His audit of Jefferson County Public Schools offers him another opportunity to burnish his resumé as a potential governor.
NOT: State Rep. Leslie Combs accidentally fired a handgun while unloading it in the Capitol Annex. Afterward, her inexplicable statements to The Courier-Journal’s Tom Loftus included, “It happens,” and “I was particularly careful.” According to CN2’s Ryan Alessi before the incident, Combs was “increasingly being mentioned among Democrats as a potential lieutenant governor candidate with Attorney General Jack Conway.” Her errant gunshot injured no one, but probably killed her running mate opportunity.
HOT: House Minority Floor Leader Jeff Hoover gave a funny, hard-hitting speech to an influential audience at the Kentucky Chamber Dinner. The Jamestown Republican also announced his intention to seek re-election to the House. He considered running for a circuit judgeship, but his chances of becoming speaker look better than ever. The GOP needs a net gain of only five seats for a majority. Recent polling looks great. They just won a special election in formerly Democratic territory, redistricting should help Republicans and Obamacare will be an anchor around Democratic necks.