Bowen to run for state senate

 Messenger-Inquirer reporter Steve Vied reported today that Owensboro Republican Joe Bowen, a former member of the Kentucky House of Representatives, has filed to run for the 8th District seat in the Kentucky Senate – the position now held by Democrat David Boswell.

Bowen, 59, was elected to the 13th District House seat in 2004 and served one term before being defeated by 408 votes by Jim Glenn in November of 2006. Glenn remains in that seat and is running for re-election.

Bowen is co-owner of Bowen Tire Co. of Owensboro.

“I do this because I think I can have a positive impact on public policy … as an advocate for our community,” Bowen said. “Owensboro and Daviess County and McLean County have missed opportunities too many times. We’ve been passed by.”

Bowen said if elected he will become a member of the Republican majority in the Senate, which will leave him is a good place to help the 8th District.

“When the economy turns around I’ll be well-positioned to make sure Owensboro is out front to benefit more than we have,” he said.

“We’ve been left behind. I think I can work to get the attention for Owensboro that’s been missing. I don’t think we’ve had the presence, we haven’t been on the inside of the maneuvering in Frankfort. Other legislators have had more clout and been able to channel more things to their communities. I think people want a fresh face, new eyes. We need a change. We can do better.”


Owensboro Democrat files to run against Brett Guthrie in 2nd Congressional District

Ed Marksberry, an official with the Daviess County Democratic Party in filed papers Thursday to run for the 2nd District congressional seat now held by Republican Rep. Brett Guthrie.
Marksberry filed his paperwork Thursday.

The 2nd District is a large area, sprawling from Owensboro to the outskirts of Louisville. The district also includes Bowling Green, Elizabethtown and Campbellsville.

Democrats haven’t had much luck in the 2nd District for the past eight elections. The last Democrat to hold the seat was Bill Natcher, who died in office in 1994. Republican Ron Lewis was elected to the seat that November and held it until his retirement in 2008. Guthrie beat Democrat David Boswell to win the seat that November.

Marksberry is an Owensboro home builder and real estate agent and is a member of the executive committee of the Daviess County Democratic Party.

Marksberry said he considers himself “a conservative Democrat, along the lines” of Natcher.

 Marksberry said he is concerned that “the middle class has lost wages and that makes us weaker as a nation.”
“I am working class. I know what it’s like to struggle to make (ends) meet,” Marksberry said.
“The Democratic Party was originally set up for the working class,” he said. “That’s my issue right now — what we can do to strengthen Kentucky families financially.”

If elected, Marksberry said he would take on “spin” generated by Republicans in Washington to voters “are hearing the truth.” Marksberry said Republicans had used “fear mongering” to sway the public debate over the federal health care bill.

Marksberry said, if elected, he would work on issues such as health care, energy and providing services to children and the elderly.

Marksberry said Thursday he did not want to talk specifically about has ideas until his campaign launches its Web site.

“The issues will all come out in due time,” Marksberry said.

Transcript of Gov. Beshear’s Jan. 19 budget address

In case you missed it, here is the transcript of Gov. Beshear’s Tuesday budget address to the General Assembly:

Mr. President, Mr. Speaker, distinguished members of the Kentucky General Assembly, Lt. Governor Mongiardo, other Constitutional officers, honorable members of the Court of Justice, honored guests, including Kentucky’s First Lady and my fellow Kentuckians.

As your governor, I come tonight during a time of unprecedented financial hardship in our country to present my plan for funding state government over the next two years.

This financial crisis was created by forces beyond our control, but it has been my job to lead our people through it. Six times since I became governor in December 2007 the General Assembly and I have acted together to fill budget shortfalls ranging from $100 million to nearly a billion dollars. This budget I unveil tonight fills a seventh gap between expected revenues and critical needs, the largest shortfall in the history of the Commonwealth. And it does so by continuing the same strategic approach that I have used to guide Kentucky through these last two years of economic turmoil, an approach that has strengthened, day by day, how we serve our people. Continue reading

Local legislators approve of Beshear’s State of the Commonwealth

Owensboro area state legislators gave favorable marks to Gov. Steve Beshear’s “State of the Commonwealth” address, but said they’re waiting to hear more specifics from the governor about his budget proposal.

In his address last week, Beshear asked for bipartisanship between Republicans and Democrats when addressing the state’s budget woes. The state faces a revenue shortfall and a hole in its 2010-12 budget of between $1.5 billion and $900 million. Beshear’s office and the Senate Republican leadership disagree on the extent of the deficit.

“The public wants something done with this,” said Rep. Jim Glenn, an Owensboro Democrat. “The public wants us to work together.”

Sen. David Boswell, a Sorgho Democrat, said Beshear did “a commendable job” with the address.

“I thought he did as good a job as he could, under the given circumstance,” Boswell said. ” … He emphasized we need to approach the problem on a bipartisan note and put all (differences) aside and deal with this for the good of all people. I agree with him 110 percent.”

Boswell said he agreed with Beshear that job creation is a top priority. “(Beshear) highlighted some of the jobs that have been created under his administration,” Boswell said. “I’ll say this … the adminstration has been very aggressive in trying to help with the job losses in our community.” The state economic development cabinet worked to retain jobs at General Electric and other Owensboro area business that have announced layoffs, Boswell said.

Rep. Dwight Butler, a Harned Republican, said Beshear’s address was “a good start.” Butler said Beshear’s failed effort in 2009 to create a Democratic majority in the Senate – by offering top Republicans positions elsewhere and hoping for success in the resulting special elections – could make bipartisanship difficult.

“I think that’s going to make it a little tough with the Senate,” Butler said. ” … I hope they can get it worked out. We have to work together.”

Beshear’s attempt to change the Senate was “just politics,” Butler said. “You just have to put it behind you and work together,” he said.

Butler said government will need to take a broad approach to dealing with the budget deficit.

“I’ve been talking with some people about being more efficient,” Butler said. “The whole system is going to have to be looked at … go through the system, where we have duplication, whether or not we’re getting the services we might need.

“It has to be looked at from each department also,” Butler said. “We need to see where the flaws are, where the problems are in our system.” Budget cuts should not be made equally across every state office, but should be made only where inefficiencies are found, Butler said.

Sen. Jerry Rhoads, a Madisonville Democrat and a member of the minority leadership in the Senate, said he thought Beshear’s speech “succeeded in his effort to (strike) a bipartisan tone.”

“We don’t have the luxury of partisanship,” Rhoads said. “It’s going to be a difficult enough problem to address. It’s going to be difficult if we don’t work in a bipartisan way.”

Beshear’s address focused primarily on what already has been done to create jobs – such as the passage of an incentives bill last year – and to streamline government.

“It’s not unusual for a governor to list the progress made under his administration,” Rhoads said. For now, legislators are waiting to see Beshear’s proposed 2010-12 budget, which will be released Jan. 19.

“I don’t think it’s surprising he didn’t get into specifics” during the address, Rhoads said. The session will likely not produce a new incentives bill similar to the one passed last year, Rhoads said.

“We put in place the package of incentives (Beshear) wanted in the last session,” Rhoads said. “… I think he feels he has the tools he needs in place.” The General Assembly could meet in a special session if additional incentives were needed to attract an businesses that would not locate in Kentucky otherwise, Rhoads said.

“I think, more than anything, he was trying to set the tone” for the session, Rhoads said of Beshear’s address. “A positive and bipartisan tone.”

Jim Gooch, climate scientist?

The Louisville Courier-Journal reported today state Rep. Jim Gooch Jr., a Providence Democrat, has introduced a resolution that questions the science behind climate change.

Gooch is co-chairman of the House Natural Resources and Environment committee.

Gooch’s resolution – which is co-sponsored by Rep. Joseph Fischer and Rep. Mike Harmon – states: “(A) recent disclosure of communications among scientists associated with the Climate Research Unit of the University of East Anglia has cast serious doubt upon the scientific data that have purportedly supported the finding that manmade carbon dioxide has been a material cause of global warming or global climate change …”

The resolution would prevent state or local agencies from enacting or enforcing “any federal, state or local law, regulation ordinance or executive order that limits, regulates or controls the emission of carbon dioxide.” But the resolution generously says the federal government can enforce its own laws in the state.

The E-mails mentioned in Gooch’s resolution were obtained by people who do not believe human activity (such as burning coals) is contributing to global warming. They say the E-mails prove evidence has been altered to falsely show human activity is contributing to climate change.

When asked about the resolution, Gooch told Courier-Journal reporter James Bruggers: “I do not think our scientists understand the science of our planet.”

If the scientists most involved with climate research do not – as Gooch says- understand “the science of the planet,” it’s hard to believe Gooch has a firmer grasp on the subject. Perhaps Gooch has been hiding his credentials as the Commonwealth’s top climate scientist all these years?

2010 county elections will be popularity test for city officials

With both a current and a former Owensboro City Commissioner running for positions on Daviess Fiscal Court this year, it will be interesting to see if former members of city government are really electable to county office.

Current city commissioner Charlie Castlen is running for the Central District Fiscal Court slot being vacated by Bruce Kunze. Meanwhile, former city commissioner Al Mattingly Jr. is running for Judge-Executive.

Both Castlen and Mattingly have been popular with city voters. Both have served as mayor pro tem, a designation that is awarded to the city commissioner who receives the highest number of votes.

Whether that popularity inside the city will translate to victory in the upcoming county elections, however, is still a mystery.

There are more voters inside the city than live in the county, so a candidate could theoretically win a Fiscal Court seat by receiving 100 percent of the city vote – if almost every county voter stays home. That scenario, however, seems unlikely, to say the least.

Although city residents have served on Fiscal Court – current east county Commissioner Jim Lambert lives inside the city – it’s hard to know whether residents in Utica or Knottsville will want a former city official presiding over county government.

If recent history is any indication, former city officials might face a difficult challenge in the county.

In 2006, Castlen gave up his city commission seat to run for county clerk – only to lose to David “Oz” Osborne. Some have said Osborne’s popularity made him impossible to beat … but the city-county divide might have played a part in Castlen’s defeat.

Of course, there is a difference between a race for clerk and a campaign for Fiscal Court … but those differences won’t necessarily favor Castlen and Mattingly.

First, there’s the above-mentioned city-county divide. Some county residents simply won’t want a former city official representing them on Fiscal Court. Others might fear a former city official will put the city’s needs above the county’s when making decisions.

Also, downtown redevelopment could play a role.

Although Castlen voted against increasing the insurance premium tax and Mattingly was not on City Commission when the vote was taken, it’s possible any candidate with a connection to city government will be rejected by county residents opposed to the downtown plan.

The downtown plan could also work against Kunze.

While Mattingly is a Republican, Kunze is facing a challenge in the Democrat primary from Max Fendel. County residents who opposed the county insurance premium tax increase to pay for a downtown convention center could throw their votes to Fendel. If Kunze survives the Democratic primary and Mattingly wins the Republican nomination, Kunze will face an opponent who can say he spoke against the insurance tax increase before Fiscal Court members voted to approve the new tax rate.