Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Michael Who? Louisville M.D. First Out of the Gate Against McConnell


The first Kentucky Democrat has announced he will run against Senate Minority Leader against Mitch McConnell, and it's ...

somebody nobody ever heard of.

Which would explain why the announcement appears to be flying under the media radar. But WHAS-11's Mark Hebert's on top of it:

While the unknown millionaire, the recently reelected statewide officeholder and the outgoing governor killer decide whether they want to take on Mitch McConnell, a Louisville doctor is jumping in.

Louisville pain doctor Michael Cassaro is planning to announce his candidacy at a really bad time on a really bad day. Cassaro plans to announce his long shot candidacy on Tuesday, the same day President Bush will be right across the river in New Albany. I'm guessing the President's visit might take precedence over the Cassaro announcement. Cassaro has made a few political contributions to statewide candidates in the past, giving $1000 to Ben Chandler, Ernie Fletcher AND Gatewood Galbraith in the 2003 governor's race. Nothing like covering all the bases. Thanks to Pat Crowley for the heads up.

But here's the release from the first Kentucky democrat to say they're running for U.S. Senate in 2008:

"Michael G. Cassaro, a resident of Prospect, announces his candidacy for the US Senate in 2008. Michael Cassaro is a 51 year old Democrat. Michael Cassaro is a physician in active practice. He is also educated as an engineer and as a lawyer.

Dr. Cassaro is a political newcomer in this campaign against Mitch McConnell. 'Mitch McConnell has been in the US Senate for almost 24 years. I respect Mr. McConnell's rise to a leadership position in the US Senate. But, his devotion to politics has not served the interests of the citizens of Kentucky.'

Dr. Cassaro will take his leadership qualities, experience and beliefs about the role of government and the basic needs of Kentuckians to Washington for the benefit of the citizens of Kentucky."

I imagine that after four years of Governor Ernest Lee Fletcher, M.D., Kentuckians have had their fill of physicians. But I'm also an advocate of free-for-all primaries, so: Welcome to the Fight, Mike!

And if this first-into-the-pool dive by a political novice doesn't persuade the national media that Mitch is so vulnerable next year that the only person in the state who couldn't beat him is Ernie Fletcher, nothing will.

Crit Luallen, Andrew Horne, Owsley Brown, Greg Stumbo, and your grandmother still have until January 30 to file for Kentucky's U.S. Senate race.

UPDATE, 7:42 p.m.:Media Czech at BlueGrassRoots has a video of Lt. Gov.-elect Dan Mongiardo lauding potential Mitch-slayer Andrew Horne.

And Kentucky Elections posts "10 Reasons Why Andrew Horne is Our Best Candidate" on DailyKos.

Cross-posted at BlueGrassRoots.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Governor-Elect Beshear: Liar or Fool?

"We're not going to go in wholesale and fire everybody just because they didn't happen to be hired by a Democratic governor," Beshear said.

I sincerely hope Steve Beshear is lying. Because if he's not lying, he's a fool who has already condemned his administration to failure, more than month before it even begins.

The Fletcher Fubar of the merit system has obscured what used to be common knowledge and accepted wisdom:

The whole purpose of having a class of employee positions outside the the merit system is that each new governor replaces them with his own political loyalists.


If the new governor does not replace the previous governor's loyalists with his own loyalists, he is - follow this carefully, now:

Not. Doing. His. Job.

I'm not talking about retribution or teaching anybody a lesson. I'm talking about the plain impossibility of running state government if the non-merit policy makers - the Cabinet Secretaries, the Department Commissioners, the Division Directors - are loyal to the previous administration.

It doesn't matter if they've performed genuine miracles in that position (something which - trust me - no one appointed by Fletcher has come close to doing.)

What matters is that anyone whose job it is to implement the elected executive's policies must be loyal to that executive. Competent, but loyal.

Any new governor who does not immediately fire every political appointee of the outgoing governor is setting himself up for failure.

And I say that as someone who counts more than a few Fletcher appointees as good friends.

Now, I've watched Steve Beshear as a politician for going on 30 years. He has never impressed me as either a liar or a fool.

So it's possible he's being extremely clever - out of pure self-defense.

For weeks we've been hearing that Fletcher appointees, anticipating their dismissal about five minutes after Beshear takes the oath of office on December 11, have been planning to spend the five weeks between the election and the inauguration sabotaging their own departments. Apparently Fletcher appointees in both the Transportation and Justice Cabinets have already begun falsifying and shredding documents.

Put yourself in Beshear's place for a moment. As governor-elect, you're looking at five weeks during which your political enemies can undermine your administration at will, while you are helpless to stop them.

What do you do?

Maybe you announce that you intend to govern through bipartisan cooperation. That you will hire people based on merit, not political affiliation. That you won't conduct wholesale firing of Fletcher appointees.

And the very first person you appoint to your transition team is republican Steve Pence, the sitting Lieutenant Governor.

Suddenly, the shredders stop whirring. "Hmm," people think. "Maybe Beshear really is that stupid. Maybe he really is going to keep at least some of us on. Maybe I might be one of the survivors. Maybe I should hold off on the sabotage until I know for sure."

Now you've got a little breathing room, a small insurance policy. You smile at everybody and don't mention that under state law, political appointees can be fired for any reason or for no reason - not "just because they didn't happen to be hired by a Democratic governor."

And if, come Inauguration Day, you fire every Fletcher appointee before the sun sets behind the Capitol, you won't be either a liar or a fool.

Cross-posted at BlueGrassRoots.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Rubbing It In

I will leave it to the fine writers of the Lexington Herald-Leader and the Louisville Courier-Journal to talk about Governor Ernie Fletcher's gracious concession speech.

Here, we're gonna wallow in schadenfreude. Just how bad did Ernie lose?

  • Fletcher is the first sitting Kentucky governor to lose a bid for re-election.*
  • Out of 120 counties, he took 28. Twenty-three of those are in the south-central "Old Fifth" district where Democrats stay deep in the political closet. Even in overwhelmingly republican Wayne County, Ernie won by only four votes.
  • Ernie and running mate Robbie Rudolph both lost their home counties.
  • Ernie lost the 10 biggest metropolitan areas in the state.
  • Ernie lost all six Congressional Districts.
  • Ernie's losing 18-point margin is short of a record, but Beshear's 619,000 votes are the most ever garnered by a gubernatorial candidate in the state.

* OK, OK: Ernie's only the second Kentucky governor to stand for re-election since the 1992 constitution change permitted it. Geez, you people are picky!

But the biggest loser of the night was Kentucky's Republican Party. Not only is Kentucky now a purple state poised to turn deep UK Wildcat Blue next year, but two of the big winners are Democratic up-and-comers poised to win big races in the future.

Attorney General-elect Jack Conway is not yet 40, and watching him light up the crowd last night it was easy to see him in eight years accepting victory as Governor. And doing the same in 2024 as President.

Re-elected State Auditor Crit Luallen got more than just cheers; the whole crowd sang along to her theme song "Kentucky Woman." The moment the polls closed last night, Crit became the front-runner to challenge Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell next year.

Mark Nickolas has the scoop: apparently DSCC Chair Chuck Schumer is telling people Crit is definitly running and will have the DSCC's full support.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: I'll believe Crit is running for another office immediately after winning re-election when I see her signature on filing papers in January.

Cross-posted at BlueGrassRoots.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Preview of Great Democratic Things to Come

Friends, neighbors, Kentuckians: Our long Commonwealth nightmare is over.

Beshear-Mongiardo 59 percent, Fletcher-Rudolph 41 percent.

Nowhere near the record for a gubernatorial victory, but more than enough to make Fletcher concede before 10 p.m.

I wasn't in Little Rock on election night in 1992, but I imagine the feeling was the same as it was at the Convention Center in Frankfort tonight: throats raw from cheering, tears of joy, the overwelming rightness of it all.

More tomorrow, but for tonight, just remember: Kentucky has gone with the winner of the Presidential Election every time since 1964. With a Democrat back in the Governor's mansion, the Bluegrass State is Blue once again, and 2008 will be the republicans' Waterloo. In Kentucky, and throughout the nation.

Cross-posted at Watching Those We Chose.

Gay-bashing Robo-Calls Getting National Coverage

Hard to get away from Kentucky politics in either the MSM or the blogosphere today. While AP, CBS and CNN are covering Ernie's approaching history-making disaster, Talking Points Memo, Crooks and Liars, TAPPED, and Lawyers, Guns and Money are covering the gay-bashing robo-calls sent out yesterday by someone who did not vote for Steve today.

TPM has put its Election Central reporters on the case, and they report that someone in the Beshear campaign traced the calls to a for-hire 800 number, but hit a dead-end there.

Brett Hall, former Fletcher campaign manager and press secretary who got fired last year for dropping the F-bomb in a recorded conversation with a reporter, remains a primary suspect. TPM also notes that former Karl Rove aide and Kentucky native Scott Jennings has recently returned home, though he denied involvement in response to a TPM inquiry.

Meanwhile, Page One Kentucky is rejecting the claim that the calls' lack of a "paid for by" disclaimer does not violate Kentucky election law.

We’re close to determining the source of the calls. And contrary to what Kentucky Registry of Election Finance has unfortunately told some people, it is illegal not to have a disclaimer on electronic advertisements. That includes telephone calls advocating the election or defeat of a candidate. Cite: KRS 121.190(1); 32 KAR 2:110. We remind the culprits that they’re required to file their independent expenditure with the KREF.

And don't forget Media Czech at BlueGrassRoots, who scooped everybody on this story yesterday and will be live-blogging from the Beshear-Mongiardo election party in Frankfort tonight starting in two hours.

Cross-posted at Watching Those We Chose.

Goal: 64.9 percent, 246,017 vote margin


In 1987, Wallace the Weasel Wilkinson beat John Harper by 231,533 votes, taking 64.8 percent of the total.

In 1991, Brereton Jones beat Larry Hopkins by 246,016 votes, taking 64.7 percent of the total

Can Steve Beshear break either of those two modern records for gubernatorial victories?

If all he does is win by the thinnest of margins, he will have already set a record as the first challenger to unseat an incumbent governor running for re-election.

But considering that Kentucky governors have only been running for re--election since 1999, that's not saying much.

No, beating The Weasel's margin will be much more satisfying, since it was The Weasel who took the nomination away from Steve in 1987.

246,017 votes, 64.9 percent margin - that's the goal.

Polls are now open - why aren't you voting?

UPDATE, 8:52 a.m.:Election Weather: It's sunny and in the 40s all across the state. NOT typical November weather, and practically unheard-of for election day.

Either global warming is real, or the Flying Spaghetti Monster has blessed Steve Beshear's campaign.

There better be pasta at the party tonight.

Polls close in 10 hours, 8 minutes.

Cross-posted at Watching Those We Chose.

Monday, November 5, 2007

The Job's Not Over 'Til the Gay-Bashing's Done


This morning, 36 hours before the polls close, the calls started.

“For the first time in 20 years the homosexual lobby proudly endorses a Kentucky candidate for governor, Steve Beshear. Beshear is receiving major support from out-of-state gay activists and has publicly committed to same-gender relationships, employment of more homosexuals in state government including teachers, and support for homosexual adoption of children.

If you believe these rights are fair please vote for Steve Beshear for governor. Visit Fairness.org."

Everybody who believes those calls came from Louisville's Fairness Campaign or any other actual gay-rights group, stand on your head. And sing God Bless America. Backwards.

So far, no one's been able to trace the calls to any number, and of course soon-to-be-former Governor Ernie Fletcher's campaign is claiming innocence. An innocence that rings a little hollow after a comment like this from Ernie's camp:

"I don't know who would be impersonating the Fairness Campaign," said spokesman Jason Keller. "Obviously we wouldn't support anybody misrepresenting themselves in a call." Having said that, Keller added that the Fairness Campaign's political action committee did endorse Beshear, and "certainly there's a fair question to be asked there."

Getting off a little there, bubeleh?

I'll let the Fairness Campaign speak for itself:

Desperate opponents of Steve Beshear have stooped to a new low by using deceptive automated telephone calls falsely representing themselves as the Fairness Campaign. Fairness has received dozens of calls from concerned Kentuckians who have reported receiving these misleading and inaccurate phone calls.

The Fairness Campaign has issued the following statement: "We believe Kentuckians are looking for a governor who will work to bring Kentuckians together to improve the lives of all people in the Commonwealth. That's why CFAIR, the Committee for Fairness and Individual Rights, has endorsed Steve Beshear for Governor. These last minute dirty-tricks should remove any doubt about who fair-minded Kentuckians should elect as their next Governor on November 6."

Neither CFAIR nor the Fairness Campaign are making any automated calls in this election. Voters who receive an inappropriate call should report it to the Secretary of State's Office, the Attorney GeneralĂ‚¹s Office and their local Board of

No fear on that score. In addition to whatever response the Beshear campaign is launching as I type, Kentucky's liberal bloggers are furious. They've already drafted complaints to the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance and legal motions to take to court the minute they track down the source.

The call (hear a recording at BlueGrassRoots) is illegal on its face, as it lacks the required "this call paid for by -" disclaimer.

PageOneKentucky reports that someone is trying to put the blame on Democrats.

We’ve received reports that the robocall originates from a telephone number owned by Lee Murphy of Poli-Tech Consulting - an organization that works only for Democrats in Kentucky - including Dan Mongiardo’s 2004 campaign. I spoke to Mr. Murphy moments ago and he confirms that he’s absolutely not involved, saying he “would never work against a Democrat” and that he’s actually friends with Mongiardo.

So where does this leave us? It appears a Republican or anti-Beshear lackey has an ax to grind and is wrongly claiming Poli-Tech is behind the robocall.

Someone is trying to cover up their tracks.

I'll update as I can.

Polls open in 11 hours, 50 minutes.

UPDATE, 7:05 p.m.:Good News, Bad News Department: Polwatchers reports that Beshear has a responding recorded call up and out.

"Ernie Fletcher is spreading lies to scare you," says Rev. John Dunaway, a retired Baptist minister who has volunteered in the Beshear campaign. "Don't fall for the last-minute dirty tricks."

However, Rich Miles at BlueGrassRoots notes that's not all the message said:

I got a robocall from a "Rev. John Dunaway", whoever he is, telling me not to believe the nasty lies about Steve Beshear. That Steve was raised in a family of preachers, and believes marriage is between a man and a woman, and all that. (SNIP) Ain't it a cryin' shame that we live in a state and a nation where either of those calls was possible or even conceived of?

UPDATE II, 8:38 a.m.:CRAP! Mark Hebert of WHAS 11 in Louisville did some actual reporting, calling the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance, and discovered that the calls may not be illegal after all.

The call contains no disclaimer, and doesn't have to, according to Sarah Jackson, executive director of the Registry of Election Finance. Jackson says there's no state law requiring candidates, parties or independent groups to identify themselves in phone calls, like they do on printed materials, radio and TV ads.

Cross-posted at Watching Those We Chose.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

John Edwards and the Kentucky Governor's Race

I don't know if any of the other Democratic presidential candidates are paying this kind of attention, but John Edwards' campaign is sending emails to all of the Kentuckians on its email list encouraging them to vote for the Democratic candidates this Tuesday.

This Tuesday, you can help us start building Democratic Party majorities around the country, starting right here in Kentucky.

For information, go to www.kydemocrat.com/our_party/2007_candidates

At a time when the disgraced policies of George Bush are dragging down Republicans in state-level races in nearly every district in the country, Democrats in Kentucky know that, starting Tuesday, this coming year could be more than just an election year -- it could be the year when a fundamental realignment takes place, from the Kentucky state house to the White House.

John Edwards is committed to expanding the map and turning red states into blue states. Time and time again, opinion polls show John is the one Democratic candidate for president who can win in red states, blue states -- and across our nation.

So this Tuesday, please take time to vote for Democratic Party candidates running statewide in Kentucky -- and join John in changing America over the next 12 months.


David Bonior
National Campaign Manager, John Edwards for President
November 3, 2007

Note: no request for money. Just an unadorned demonstration of Edwards' committment to growing and strengthening Democrats at the grass-roots level in every single state, no matter how "red."

'Course, Edwards probably has a soft spot for Kentucky after the incredible reception he got in Columbia last month. And the Kentucky Governor's race has a high national profile. But are any other Democratic presidential hopefuls making this kind of effort? If you've gotten any similar communication from Kucinich, Gravel, Richardson, Biden, Dodd, Obama or Clinton, let me know in comments.

Cross-posted at BlueGrassRoots.

It's the Rule of Law, Stupid

Yeah, it’s nice to have an Attorney General who understands that forcible drowning is, you know, torture.

But it’s absolutely critical that the Attorney General understands that the president cannot just refuse to obey any laws he doesn’t like.

When the president is above the law, the U.S. Constitution is dead.

Russ Feingold gets it, and says it perfectly. And TPM catches it.

Feingold to Oppose Mukasey

Statement just released (11/4/07, 10:30 a.m.)

"I will vote against the nomination of Judge Mukasey to be the next Attorney General. This was a difficult decision, as Judge Mukasey has many impressive qualities. He is intelligent and experienced and appears to understand the need to depoliticize the Department of Justice and restore its credibility and reputation.

At this point in our history, however, the country also needs an Attorney General who will tell the President that he cannot ignore the laws passed by Congress.

Unfortunately, Judge Mukasey was unwilling to reject the extreme and dangerous theories of executive power that this administration has put forward.

The nation's top law enforcement officer must be able to stand up to a chief executive who thinks he is above the law. The rule of law is too important to our country's history and to its future to compromise on that bedrock principle."

Cross-posted at BlueGrassRoots.

Ernie Fletcher Gay?

Unfortunately, probably not. But under the New Rule that those who publicly bash gays or otherwise demonstrate blatant homophobia have thus proven they are closeted, self-hating homosexuals, Incumbent Republican Governor Fletcher has outed himself.

As Sam Wise at BlueGrassRoots puts it:

He's sunk this low. Soon-to-be-ex-governor Ernie Fletcher is now gay-bashing Steve Beshear. Never mind that he's not gay, that doesn't matter.
I am glad that our state will soon be rid of this crooked, hate-mongering, lying sack.
From today's Courier Journal blog:
"We reported earlier today that it looked like Gov. Ernie Fletcher was banking on the immigration if he were to salvage his reelection. We were wrong. It's gays.

After the Republican Party of Kentucky sent out robo-calls telling voters they better vote for Fletcher if they didn't want Kentucky to become another San Francisco, Republicans went on the road to hammer Democrat Steve Beshear and his running mate Dan Mongiardo for an endorsement they received from C-Fair, which supports equal rights for gays and lesbians.

At a campaign rally at the Kentucky Horse Park tonight in Lexington, Fletcher running mate Robbie Rudolph may have implied the Democratic ticket was gay when he asked the crowd, "Do you want a couple of San Francisco treats or do you want to reelect Gov. Ernie Fletcher?"Attorney General candidate Stan Lee referred to Beshear and Mongiardo as "San Francisco treats" as well."

I know no one needs any further motivation to not become complacent these last few days, but conduct like this by Fletcher continues to provide plenty of motivation to those who are disgusted with Fletcher to take nothing for granted. This kind of gay-bashing childish behavior should earn an especially severe rejection at the polls, one that will serve as a statement to future politicians. That statement will be that Kentuckians want real leaders, not cowardly hate-mongers who want to demonize any Kentucky minority.

Kentucky Democrats may be dropping like flies from schadenfreude overdose, but we're not cruel. So, to help our obviously pained Governor, I propose an intervention:

Ernie, sweetie: Being in the closet is nothing to be ashamed of. We all understand that some people feel it's necessary. But acceptable closet behavior includes discretion.

You and Robbie understand discretion, right? Your self-hatred must remain unspoken. The moment you express your self-hatred in public gay-bashing, your secret's out.

Public gaybashing = homophobia = closet.

But don't worry; the record-breaking rejection Kentucky voters are about to drop on your ass has nothing to do with your orientation.

And that's your real legacy, Ernie: Incompetence and corruption so blatant and thorough that even the last-minute revelation of your closeted homosexuality has virtually no effect.

Love to Glenna.

56 hours, 30 minutes until the polls close in Western Kentucky.

Cross-posted at Watching Those We Chose.

Thursday, November 1, 2007


Far be it from me to extrapolate from a single example, but there's a house along my route to work the yard of which has undergone a transformation during this election year.

Starting around January, four Re-Elect Fletcher signs sprouted in the yard.

They caught my attention not only for their number and the way they were carefully angled to take advantage of the curve of the road, but because they were the only Fletcher signs in a five-mile stretch.

All four signs remained through spring. But after the primary, they started to disappear, one at a time.

The day after the June Survey USA poll showed Beshear up more than 20 points, the yard was down to three signs.

The week after Fancy Farm, there were only two.

On Labor Day, a single Fletcher sign hung on. Battered and leaning, it seemed almost embarassed by Ernie's increasingly desperate campaign.

October found the yard clear of signs. But on Monday, a new sign appeared:

"For Sale."

Cross-posted at BlueGrassRoots.