May 29, 2019

Kentucky: A 2020 Preview?

By Frank Friday

Some pundits have been trying to say the 2019 Kentucky governor’s race is a preview of Donald Trump’s re-election campaign. This may well be, but after the recent primary, not in the way they might have hoped. Nate Silver is ecstatic over the low approval numbers for Republican incumbent Matt Bevin. But keep in mind, Kentucky has become a notoriously hard state to poll, as the average person just won’t take a phone call if they see a number they don’t know.

Bevin himself has been compared to Trump, in as much as he is probably the favorite governor of the White House, and Trump will be in to help him as much as needed. And like Trump, Bevin came into office as a complete outsider/businessman, who didn’t understand the need to cultivate good relations with the opposition party or press.

Unlike in D.C., where there is no making nice with the crazies on the left, there are a lot of moderates in Frankfort, and a little ego stroking by a governor goes a long way.

And unlike Trump, Bevin is an unblemished family man, with an easygoing personality. He chose a black woman for his running mate the first time around, and a Hispanic doctor this time, and has adopted several children from Africa. Nobody plays the race card on him.

But, like Trump, he is not hesitant to use Democrat-style rhetoric against his opponents, driving them nuts with their own medicine. Pointing out the obvious this year, that an unsupervised seven-year-old in Louisville was shot during an illegal teacher union sickout/protest day; and earning the undying enmity of the state’s liberal media.

Policy-wise, Bevin’s administration has been consumed with fixing the disastrous public pension problem, an Illinois-size mess that the outgoing Democrat, Steve Beshear, left him. Kentucky Democrats and public unions have refused to work on any sensible compromise and instead staged mass protests during the legislative session the last two years. Kentucky teachers have much better pay and benefits than any surrounding state and yet refuse to consider even the most modest reforms.

A very minor tweak of the teacher’s pension was struck down in court thanks to the “resistance,” that is Beshear’s son Andy, the current AG, and certain super-partisan Democrats on the state bench, who sue and frustrate every move by the governor (yeah, just like Trump).

The problem for the Democrats is they just nominated Andy Beshear to be their nominee in the fall, despite knowing good and well that both Beshears, father and son, are neck deep in the graft. Tim Longmeyer, the family’s chief fundraiser, was recently sent to prison; he was also part of the Beshear’s pay-to-play scam at the state pension fund. Steve Beshear also left the state on the hook for over $1.5 billion in the unfixable Kentucky Wired scandal. And Andy Beshear has been implicated in the opioid scandal on several different levels, collecting big bucks from Purdue Pharma and doling out contracts to connected law firms. Beshear’s corruption problems are so bad that even the state teacher’s union backed another guy, fearing that he has no chance against Bevin.

Most of the insiders in state politics think that Bevin is in good shape for November.
So who does all that remind you of, the father and son Democrats with all the money scandals? Joe and Hunter Biden, of course, and my bet is, just like Bernie Sanders could never really take down Hillary with all her scandals in 2016, or in the recent Kentucky primary, where no one could make the case on Beshear; so too, none of Biden’s Democrat opponents will know how to exploit all the financial scandals, from the Ukraine to Red China.

Of course, the media won’t on their own devote much time to the scandals of any Democrat, either in a primary or a general election. But Bevin in 2019 can be a preview for President Trump in 2020; both will have the campaign resources to educate the public on all the troubles of the opposition, months ahead of the election. Doing the job primary opponents and the media won’t, thanks to millions in paid TV commercials, and leading to election victory.

Frank Friday is an attorney in Louisville, KY.