Well, the hijinks in the Kentucky Governor’s race have officially begun, and not a moment too soon! After a down period following the November general elections, I’ll wager most political junkies in Kentucky are waiting with bated breath for the race that seems to be shaping up.
At least one major national publication calls the race the one to watch in 2011. And that’s not just in Kentucky-they chose it over all other races in the country. Now,being an off year, that’s not tough to understand since no other major national races will be contested, and it could very well shape up as a bellweather for the 2012 Presidential race. There are some similarities.
Both will feature an incumbent who has not been able to fully implement his campaign promises or policies. In Governor Steve Beshear’s case, his plans for legalizing casino gambling have never really materialized, but Barack Obama has had a bit more luck with some policies like Health Care reform. Both have also faced a divided legislatvie chamber. Beshear with a Democratic-controlled House, and GOP-controlled Senate and now Obama faces exactly the opposite configuration. Whether Kentucky’s result will foreshadow the 2012 race remains to be seen, but it would seem in both cases to depend heavily upon the GOP nominee.
On the Presidential side it’s wide open, with most pundits believing Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee are the top choices for now. As for Sarah Palin-even though she’s posted good straw poll numbers with her base, she does not look to have the staying power to appeal to more independents and moderates. Most GOP insiders think she’s totally unelectable, and I tend to agree. In fact I’ve made no secret that I don’t think she’ll run at all, but will continue to serve as a fundraiser and designated campaigner.
Ah but what about the GOP Gubernatorial Primary in Kentucky? Well, at least two candidates are in, but it would seem to be a nearly sure bet that Senate President David Williams is the man to beat. Williams pushed through a massive agenda in the first week of the 2011 Kentucky General Assembly then formally filed his candidacy papers Tuesday. A canny move to capitalize on said agenda before most of it will doubtless be blocked by the House. But Williams knows that if any small chunk of his myriad bills DOES make it through the House, he can use that against Beshear all day long. Not to slight Tea Party Republican Phil Moffet, but I think Williams’ money, and name recognition wins the day.
I’ve already said I think Williams has a legitimate shot to beat Beshear, particularly with Richie Farmer on the ticket. If he can somehow reach the disgruntled voters who came out to catapault Steve Beshear to a win over then incumbent Ernie Fletcher, it could be a huge win in November. It’s also possible that for the first time in my memory, running mates might be a huge factor. The much revered Farmer of UK Basketball fame, versus ex Louisville Mayor Jerry Abramson–well liked in Louisville, but not well known at all in the farthest reaches of Kentucky.
One thing’s for sure. This will be another wild, and probably nasty race, and it will be a lot of fun to watch!