Unpopular, unqualified candidates make wins unlikely for Ky. Dems

Column by Thomas Roberts

2008 is looking good for Republicans in Kentucky. And after a rough two years, Nov. 4 should be a great night.

Presidential candidate John McCain will carry Kentucky in November. Neither Democrat will come close to him; moreover, if Barack Obama is the nominee, he will get blown out of the water. In every region of the state, McCain leads Obama. In Eastern Kentucky, some polls show Obama’s support to be in the mid-teens with McCain garnering more than 70 percent support. When television ads start to remind us of Obama’s elitist lamentation that rural voters cling to guns and to God because they are bitter, I can only imagine McCain’s lead widening.

Sen. Mitch McConnell will also win re-election. I have a hard time seeing Ben Chandler working very hard for Bruce Lunsford, the likely Democratic challenger to McConnell, after Lunsford’s negative ads doomed Chandler’s gubernatorial bid in 2003. Then again, Lunsford will continue to have the support of Gov. Steve Beshear. But with Beshear’s failures increasing daily, I don’t know how much help that will be. I wouldn’t want to be associated with somebody whose disapproval rating is higher than his approval.

In addition to having to run with Obama and the support of Beshear, Lunsford is going to talk about his business experience. He boasts that he helped grow his business from three employees to 62,000. But that is not the entire story of Lunsford’s business experience. In fact, I am going to quote some of Chandler’s 2003 ads.

Lunsford’s real experience lies in the fact that he was CEO of a nursing home that was fined for Medicare fraud by the Department of Justice. The fines totaled over $100 million and included such offenses as poor senior care, fraud and overbilling. (Lunsford has said the company was not fined but merely paid to settle the charges without conceding guilt, according to an Associated Press report.) Chandler ran an ad in which Martha Stevens of Louisville asserted that her mother was abused in one of Lunsford’s nursing homes. She notes her mother’s broken fingers, skin tears and malnourishment. How does overseeing a business like that give you the experience you need to be a U.S. Senator?

With Obama and Lunsford at the top of the ticket, the rest of the Democrats are going to have a tough time. Brett Guthrie is a great candidate in the 2nd District and should have no problem winning that seat. Anne Northup will reclaim her congressional seat this year, too. She posted impressive fundraising numbers, nearly doubling what Yarmuth raised in the first quarter. Moreover, Yarmuth now has to try to explain why he supported resolutions for Ramadan and Hanukkah while voting “present” on a resolution for Christmas.

With Democratic candidates like these, I don’t see how Republicans in Kentucky can’t have a good year this year.

Thomas Roberts is the chairman of UK College Republicans. E-mail [email protected]