After special elections defeats, Ky. Republicans reopen campaign to “flip” House

Tuesday, March 8, was a tough day for Kentucky Republicans.

Democratic candidates took three of the four open seats in the House of Representatives. The wins in Tuesday’s special elections increased the lead Democrats hold in the House. Democrats now hold 53 seats, compared to 47 for the Republicans.

The special election results were a major turnaround from just four months ago, when then-candidate Matt Bevin defied all predictions and won the governor’s race by a resounding margin. Bevin’s coat tails were so long that he also helped sweep Republicans into the offices of treasurer, ag commissioner and auditor of public accounts.

The November results were more than just a major Republican win, they were a repudiation of the shining stars of the state’s Democratic Party. Alison Lundergan Grimes retained her seat as secretary of state, but faced a tougher fight than she expected. Meanwhile, Democratic auditor Adam Edelen, who was respected and proactive in his job and considered a future candidate for national office, was unexpectedly trounced by Republican Mike Harmon.

In his election night victory speech, Bevin urged voters to then “flip the House.” Bevin, for his part, did what he could to help narrow the odds, but appointing two House Democrats to government posts. Things were so tense in Frankfort leading up to the special elections that House Democrats declined to bring forth a budget until after the elections were over, state Rep.  Jim Glenn, an Owensboro Democrat, said two days after the elections.

The special election results completely change the dynamic of the General Assembly’s budget negotiations. If Republicans had managed to win all four seats — and they tried, by outspending Democrats in the races — there would have been a 50-50 split in the House, preventing Democrats from advancing their budget without making major concessions to House Republicans. That budget would likely have been changed further by the Republican Senate, with the backing of Republicans in the House.

The end result would have been something extremely close to the budget plan Bevin announced in January, which includes budget cuts to just about every  branch of government, including K-12 and postsecondary education and the judicial branch.

Instead, House Democrats increased their majority, encouraging them to announce their budget will not include Bevin’s cuts to colleges and universities. The budget that comes out of the House Tuesday will doubtless divert from Bevin’s plan in other ways. For example, instead of cutting funds to the judiciary — something Chief Justice John Minton Jr. says would be devastating to the courts — it’s highly possible the House plan will include funding for a Family Court judgeship in Daviess County, something that Minton, the Greater Owensboro Chamber of Commerce and Owensboro-area Republican and Democratic House and Senate members support.

Instead of House Democrats having to negotiate with a Republican majority, the Republican Senate can expect to have to work out deals with Democratic leaders when the budget goes to an inevitable conference committee.

So what happened during Tuesday’s special elections? The easiest answer is that people generally seem to prefer divided government. But there were other factors at play.

First, we need to at least consider the possibility of what I’d call “Bevin Shock.” Shortly after the November elections, the Washington Post sent reporters to Pikeville to interview voters. They found people who had voted for Bevin, seemingly without knowing Bevin’s plans to dismantle Kynect, the state’s health insurance exchanged created under the Affordable Care Act, or of his plan to alter the state’s Medicaid expansion.

“(I)t doesn’t look to me as if he understands,” Pikeville resident Dennis Blackburn told the Post. “Without this little bit of help these people are giving me, I could probably die. . . . It’s not right to not understand something but want to stamp it out.”

If voters didn’t know Bevin’s plans, that’s certainly not Bevin’s fault. During the campaign, Bevin was certainly out front about his plans to dismantle Kynect and switch Kentuckians who used it to the federal health insurance exchange, and about his plan to apply for a federal waiver to alter the Medicaid expansion. Bevin said, time and again on the trail, that the state cannot afford the cost of the Medicaid expansion, and that Kynect is an unnecessary  and expensive duplication of the federal exchange. What Bevin’s Medicaid changes will look like are yet to be seen.

Then, there was Bevin’s budget proposal.

Bevin’s budget plan focuses on cutting government spending, in order to pump more money into the state’s badly underfunded state employee and teacher retirement systems. Everyone, Republicans and Democrats, agree the pension crisis is actually a crisis — but the scope of Bevin’s proposed cuts gave Democrats an issue to exploit, which they did.

Almost as soon as the House budget review subcommittees began meeting, the Democrats lined up a number of officials — university presidents in particular — who testified about how the cuts would (they say) decimate their institutions. To people who aren’t teachers or state workers, the pension systems might seem a bit abstract — but when you start talking about putting the hallowed halls of UK and U of L on the budget chopping block, or about slicing into the community colleges, people take notice.

Republicans have charged that the universities are overplaying their woes, and that the big universities are stacked with overpaid people. On Thursday, a member of Senate leadership took to the floor to attack the severance packages of college personnel. They may have a case — but it’s a lot easier for Democrats to say “cuts to education are bad” than it is for Republicans to make a policy argument about the need to shore up pension systems that don’t directly affect most Kentuckians anyway. The pension crisis doesn’t easily lend itself to slogans.

When the Democrats rolled out a plan to provide free tuition for high school graduates to attend community colleges, they essentially framed the issue as: We are for college education, Republicans are against college education. Unfair? Sure. But when did fair count in politics? The Republicans were simply outmaneuvered on the issue.

Despite Tuesday’s losses in the House races, Republicans would still very much like to retake the House, and that goal is not out of reach. A pickup of only three seats would split the House, and more than that would swing the chamber. The new campaign for the House began Friday, in the Senate.

Friday morning, Senate President Robert Stivers, a Manchester Republican, stood up and launched an attack on Kynect and the Affordable Care Act, which is more commonly known as “Obamacare.” In retrospect, I wish I’d counted the number of times Stivers said ether “Obama” or “Obamacare.” It was certainly more than 10 times in the space of a couple minutes. I’m paraphrasing here, but Stivers called the ACA/Obamcare an expensive, job-killing boondoggle, echoed Bevin’s declaration that Kynect is just a “Web site,” and called on House Speaker Greg Stumbo, a Prestonsburg Democrat, to hold hearings or debates on the ACA.

“But let’s take a vote, let’s see where the votes are on this issue,” Stivers said. The public, Stivers said, “deserves to know where everybody stands on this issue.”

Well, that’s a call Stumbo is certain to ignore, but it does point out the Republican strategy going forward — to pin House Republicans to President Barack Obama as much as possible.

As strategies go, it makes sense — Obama remains deeply unpopular in Kentucky, even while Kynect is considered something of a national model, and despite the fact that 500,000 people received health coverage, mostly through the Medicaid expansion but also through Kynect, between 2013 and 2014.

You can expect Republicans to say the “O Word” a lot in the coming months, and you can anticipate television ads where the faces of House Democrats will appear next to Obama’s. Republicans were outspending Democrats $3 to $1, Rep. Tommy Thompson, a Philpot Democrat, said a week or two before the special elections, and money won’t be in short supply again for Republican candidates in the fall.

Running against Obama has worked for Republicans before. We’ll see in the coming months how Republicans fare by returning the anti-Obama playbook.

Libertarian Party condemns Rand Paul

News stories about Rand Paul, the Republican Senate nominee from Kentucky, frequently refer to his Libertarian background. But the Libertarian Party of Kentucky issued a statement Tuesday distancing itself from Paul.

Here’s the statement:

Independence, Ky. – The Libertarian Party of Kentucky strongly condemns the hurtful comments of Republican senate candidate Rand Paul.

Rand Paul belongs to the Republican Party of Kentucky, an association which he makes of his own free will.

Dr. Paul’s sole libertarian credentials come from Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele, former adversary Republican Secretary of State Trey Grayson, and many in the mainstream media.

 In an effort to clear our good name, we make this public statement.

Rand Paul is not a libertarian. There are clear differences between the Libertarian Party, including the philosophy upon which is it based, and the philosophy and campaign rhetoric of Rand Paul.

While the Libertarian Party shares some stances traditionally associated with the Republican Party, the LP also shares common ground on positions traditionally associated with the Democratic Party, and not always for the same reasons.

We are an alternative to the two party system, not constrained by the model that defines both major parties.

Libertarians want a complete repeal of the PATRIOT Act, closure of Guantanamo Bay, and an end to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Rand Paul has stated that he wants to continue military detentions at Guantanamo Bay, a retroactive official declaration of war by Congress, and has denied that he seeks to overturn the PATRIOT Act.

In further contrast, libertarians want to provide a mechanism by which non-traditional couples can receive equal protection under the law. Rand Paul has voiced his support of the discriminatory “one man, one woman” definition of marriage and his opposition to any other civil contract option.

In 2009, social conservatives in Kentucky outlawed adoption by anyone not living in a traditional, legally-recognized marriage – a concept so extreme that even family counselor and conservative talk-show host Dr. Laura Schlessinger has opposed it. The Libertarian Party stood in strong opposition to this legislation. Rand Paul has acknowledged that he agrees with his party in this, squarely placing himself at odds with the Libertarian Party of Kentucky and libertarians nationwide, who have a strong record of fighting these inequities.

 The Libertarian Party of Kentucky has primarily avoided being involved in the race for US Senate to date, other than to defend our party and the philosophy upon which it is built, and we intend to continue avoiding involvement.

Rand Paul’s statements regarding all forms of discrimination are not consistent with, nor do they reflect the views of, the Libertarian Party of Kentucky. Rand Paul does not speak for us or for our party. We condemn all bigotry based on any and all factors.

 The Libertarian Party of Kentucky is the official state affiliate for the Libertarian Party, America’s third largest political party. Founded in 1971, the Libertarian Party prides itself on a history of fighting for oppressed members of society and the rights of all citizens. More information is available on our website, http://www.LPKY.org.

What is a Libertarian?

Many news commentators refer to Republican Rand Paul, the GOP nominee for the Kentucky seat in the U.S. Senate that Sen. Jim Bunning has held for the past six years as a libertarian.

What is a libertarian?

Here’s the party’s platform from its website www.lp.org

National Platform of the Libertarian Party

Adopted in Convention, May 2008, Denver, Colorado

Preamble

As Libertarians, we seek a world of liberty; a world in which all individuals are sovereign over their own lives and no one is forced to sacrifice his or her values for the benefit of others.

We believe that respect for individual rights is the essential precondition for a free and prosperous world, that force and fraud must be banished from human relationships, and that only through freedom can peace and prosperity be realized.

Consequently, we defend each person’s right to engage in any activity that is peaceful and honest, and welcome the diversity that freedom brings. The world we seek to build is one where individuals are free to follow their own dreams in their own ways, without interference from government or any authoritarian power.

In the following pages we have set forth our basic principles and enumerated various policy stands derived from those principles.

These specific policies are not our goal, however. Our goal is nothing more nor less than a world set free in our lifetime, and it is to this end that we take these stands. 

Statement of Principles

We, the members of the Libertarian Party, challenge the cult of the omnipotent state and defend the rights of the individual.

We hold that all individuals have the right to exercise sole dominion over their own lives, and have the right to live in whatever manner they choose, so long as they do not forcibly interfere with the equal right of others to live in whatever manner they choose.

Governments throughout history have regularly operated on the opposite principle, that the State has the right to dispose of the lives of individuals and the fruits of their labor. Even within the United States, all political parties other than our own grant to government the right to regulate the lives of individuals and seize the fruits of their labor without their consent.

We, on the contrary, deny the right of any government to do these things, and hold that where governments exist, they must not violate the rights of any individual: namely, (1) the right to life — accordingly we support the prohibition of the initiation of physical force against others; (2) the right to liberty of speech and action — accordingly we oppose all attempts by government to abridge the freedom of speech and press, as well as government censorship in any form; and (3) the right to property — accordingly we oppose all government interference with private property, such as confiscation, nationalization, and eminent domain, and support the prohibition of robbery, trespass, fraud, and misrepresentation.

Since governments, when instituted, must not violate individual rights, we oppose all interference by government in the areas of voluntary and contractual relations among individuals. People should not be forced to sacrifice their lives and property for the benefit of others. They should be left free by government to deal with one another as free traders; and the resultant economic system, the only one compatible with the protection of individual rights, is the free market.

1.0    Personal Liberty

Individuals should be free to make choices for themselves and to accept responsibility for the consequences of the choices they make. No individual, group, or government may initiate force against any other individual, group, or government. Our support of an individual’s right to make choices in life does not mean that we necessarily approve or disapprove of those choices.

1.1    Expression and Communication

We support full freedom of expression and oppose government censorship, regulation or control of communications media and technology. We favor the freedom to engage in or abstain from any religious activities that do not violate the rights of others. We oppose government actions which either aid or attack any religion.

1.2    Personal Privacy

We support the protections provided by the Fourth Amendment to be secure in our persons, homes, and property. Only actions that infringe on the rights of others can properly be termed crimes. We favor the repeal of all laws creating “crimes” without victims, such as the use of drugs for medicinal or recreational purposes.

1.3    Personal Relationships

Sexual orientation, preference, gender, or gender identity should have no impact on the rights of individuals by government, such as in current marriage, child custody, adoption, immigration or military service laws. Consenting adults should be free to choose their own sexual practices and personal relationships. Government does not have the authority to define, license or restrict personal relationships.

1.4    Abortion

Recognizing that abortion is a sensitive issue and that people can hold good-faith views on all sides, we believe that government should be kept out of the matter, leaving the question to each person for their conscientious consideration.

1.5    Crime and Justice

Government exists to protect the rights of every individual including life, liberty and property. Criminal laws should be limited to violation of the rights of others through force or fraud, or deliberate actions that place others involuntarily at significant risk of harm. Individuals retain the right to voluntarily assume risk of harm to themselves. We support restitution of the victim to the fullest degree possible at the expense of the criminal or the negligent wrongdoer. We oppose reduction of constitutional safeguards of the rights of the criminally accused. The rights of due process, a speedy trial, legal counsel, trial by jury, and the legal presumption of innocence until proven guilty, must not be denied. We assert the common-law right of juries to judge not only the facts but also the justice of the law.

1.6    Self-Defense

The only legitimate use of force is in defense of individual rights — life, liberty, and justly acquired property — against aggression. This right inheres in the individual, who may agree to be aided by any other individual or group. We affirm the right to keep and bear arms, and oppose the prosecution of individuals for exercising their rights of self-defense. We oppose all laws at any level of government requiring registration of, or restricting, the ownership, manufacture, or transfer or sale of firearms or ammunition.

2.0    Economic Liberty

A free and competitive market allocates resources in the most efficient manner. Each person has the right to offer goods and services to others on the free market. The only proper role of government in the economic realm is to protect property rights, adjudicate disputes, and provide a legal framework in which voluntary trade is protected. All efforts by government to redistribute wealth, or to control or manage trade, are improper in a free society.


2.1    Property and Contract

Property rights are entitled to the same protection as all other human rights. The owners of property have the full right to control, use, dispose of, or in any manner enjoy, their property without interference, until and unless the exercise of their control infringes the valid rights of others. We oppose all controls on wages, prices, rents, profits, production, and interest rates. We advocate the repeal of all laws banning or restricting the advertising of prices, products, or services. We oppose all violations of the right to private property, liberty of contract, and freedom of trade. The right to trade includes the right not to trade — for any reasons whatsoever. Where property, including land, has been taken from its rightful owners by the government or private action in violation of individual rights, we favor restitution to the rightful owners.


2.2    Environment

We support a clean and healthy environment and sensible use of our natural resources. Private landowners and conservation groups have a vested interest in maintaining natural resources. Pollution and misuse of resources cause damage to our ecosystem. Governments, unlike private businesses, are unaccountable for such damage done to our environment and have a terrible track record when it comes to environmental protection. Protecting the environment requires a clear definition and enforcement of individual rights in resources like land, water, air, and wildlife. Free markets and property rights stimulate the technological innovations and behavioral changes required to protect our environment and ecosystems. We realize that our planet’s climate is constantly changing, but environmental advocates and social pressure are the most effective means of changing public behavior.

2.3    Energy and Resources

While energy is needed to fuel a modern society, government should not be subsidizing any particular form of energy. We oppose all government control of energy pricing, allocation, and production.

2.4    Government Finance and Spending

All persons are entitled to keep the fruits of their labor. We call for the repeal of the income tax, the abolishment of the Internal Revenue Service and all federal programs and services not required under the U.S. Constitution.  We oppose any legal requirements forcing employers to serve as tax collectors. Government should not incur debt, which burdens future generations without their consent. We support the passage of a “Balanced Budget Amendment” to the U.S. Constitution, provided that the budget is balanced exclusively by cutting expenditures, and not by raising taxes.

2.5    Money and Financial Markets

We favor free-market banking, with unrestricted competition among banks and depository institutions of all types. Individuals engaged in voluntary exchange should be free to use as money any mutually agreeable commodity or item. We support a halt to inflationary monetary policies, the repeal of legal tender laws and compulsory governmental units of account.


2.6    Monopolies and Corporations

We defend the right of individuals to form corporations, cooperatives and other types of companies based on voluntary association. We seek to divest government of all functions that can be provided by non-governmental organizations or private individuals. We oppose government subsidies to business, labor, or any other special interest. Industries should be governed by free markets.

2.7    Labor Markets

We support repeal of all laws which impede the ability of any person to find employment. We oppose government-fostered forced retirement. We support the right of free persons to associate or not associate in labor unions, and an employer should have the right to recognize or refuse to recognize a union. We oppose government interference in bargaining, such as compulsory arbitration or imposing an obligation to bargain.

2.8    Education

Education, like any other service, is best provided by the free market, achieving greater quality and efficiency with more diversity of choice. Schools should be managed locally to achieve greater accountability and parental involvement. Recognizing that the education of children is inextricably linked to moral values, we would return authority to parents to determine the education of their children, without interference from government. In particular, parents should have control of and responsibility for all funds expended for their children’s education.


2.9    Health Care

We favor restoring and reviving a free market health care system. We recognize the freedom of individuals to determine the level of health insurance they want, the level of health care they want, the care providers they want, the medicines and treatments they will use and all other aspects of their medical care, including end-of-life decisions.


2.10    Retirement and Income Security

Retirement planning is the responsibility of the individual, not the government. We favor replacing the current government-sponsored Social Security system with a private voluntary system. The proper source of help for the poor is the voluntary efforts of private groups and individuals.

3.0    Securing Liberty

The protection of individual rights is the only proper purpose of government. Government is constitutionally limited so as to prevent the infringement of individual rights by the government itself. The principle of non-initiation of force should guide the relationships between governments.

3.1    National Defense

We support the maintenance of a sufficient military to defend the United States against aggression. The United States should both abandon its attempts to act as policeman for the world and avoid entangling alliances. We oppose any form of compulsory national service.

3.2    Internal Security and Individual Rights

The defense of the country requires that we have adequate intelligence to detect and to counter threats to domestic security. This requirement must not take priority over maintaining the civil liberties of our citizens.  The Bill of Rights provides no exceptions for a time of war. Intelligence agencies that legitimately seek to preserve the security of the nation must be subject to oversight and transparency. We oppose the government’s use of secret classifications to keep from the public information that it should have, especially that which shows that the government has violated the law.

3.3    International Affairs

American foreign policy should seek an America at peace with the world and its defense against attack from abroad. We would end the current U.S. government policy of foreign intervention, including military and economic aid. We recognize the right of all people to resist tyranny and defend themselves and their rights. We condemn the use of force, and especially the use of terrorism, against the innocent, regardless of whether such acts are committed by governments or by political or revolutionary groups.

3.4    Free Trade and Migration

We support the removal of governmental impediments to free trade.  Political freedom and escape from tyranny demand that individuals not be unreasonably constrained by government in the crossing of political boundaries.  Economic freedom demands the unrestricted movement of human as well as financial capital across national borders.  However, we support control over the entry into our country of foreign nationals who pose a threat to security, health or property.


3.5    Rights and Discrimination

We condemn bigotry as irrational and repugnant. Government should not deny or abridge any individual’s rights based on sex, wealth, race, color, creed, age, national origin, personal habits, political preference or sexual orientation. Parents, or other guardians, have the right to raise their children according to their own standards and beliefs.

3.6    Representative Government

We support electoral systems that are more representative of the electorate at the federal, state and local levels.  As private voluntary groups, political parties should be allowed to establish their own rules for nomination procedures, primaries and conventions. We call for an end to any tax-financed subsidies to candidates or parties and the repeal of all laws which restrict voluntary financing of election campaigns. We oppose laws that effectively exclude alternative candidates and parties, deny ballot access, gerrymander districts, or deny the voters their right to consider all legitimate alternatives.


3.7    Self-Determination

Whenever any form of government becomes destructive of individual liberty, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to agree to such new governance as to them shall seem most likely to protect their liberty.

4.0    Omissions

Our silence about any other particular government law, regulation, ordinance, directive, edict, control, regulatory agency, activity, or machination should not be construed to imply approval.

Healthcare lobbyists dominate Frankfort spending

This just in from the Kentucky Legislative Ethics Commission:

“Lobbying spending for the first three months of the 2010 General Assembly was dominated by the Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA), which didn’t register to lobby until March.  CHPA represents manufacturers and distributors of non-prescription, over-the-counter medicines.

“CHPA spent $307,377 in March, more than twice as much as the next highest spending employer spent in the entire first quarter of 2010.  CHPA spent $303,377 on phone banking, and paid its lobbyist $4,000 in compensation.  CHPA includes several businesses which employ lobbyists in Kentucky, including Bayer, GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson, Merck, Novartis, Pfizer, and Purdue Pharma.

“CHPA engaged a lobbyist on March 8, and began lobbying on two bills (House Bill 497 and Senate Bill 211) designed to tighten restrictions on the purchase and possession of pseudoephedrine, ephedrine, and phenylpropanolamine, substances which are used in a wide variety of non-prescription, over-the-counter medicines, and which can be used illegally to produce methamphetamine. 

“HB 497 would have required a prescription to obtain pseudoephedrine (such as Sudafed), ephedrine, and phenylpropanolamine (used as a nasal decongestant and for weight control), and established new criminal penalties for trafficking in any of the substances.  SB 211 would have reduced the amounts of the three substances which could be legally purchased or possessed, and restricted convicted methamphetamine offenders from purchasing medicine containing the substances. 

“The Kentucky Pharmacists Association said SB 211 would be an “effective measure in cutting down the amount of pseudoephedrine used by criminals to produce meth.”  The Kentucky Association of Chiefs of Police said HB 497 would reduce the number of methamphetamine labs by limiting the availability of substances used to make methamphetamine.  Neither bill was enacted.

“The second highest spending employer for the first quarter of 2010 was Altria Client Services, representing several companies including Philip Morris USA and U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Company.  Altria spent $145,187 during the period, compared to $47,882 for the same period in the 2008 General Assembly.

“The next highest spending employers in the first quarter were the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce ($82,310) and the Kentucky Retail Federation ($78,758).  The Chamber’s spending was up from $71,514 in 2008, and the Retail Federation was down slightly from $79,637 in 2008.

“Other top spenders during the first three months of 2010 include the Kentucky Education Association ($76,064); Wellpoint-Anthem Blue Cross/Blue Shield ($69,581); Kentucky Hospital Association ($63,745); Kentucky Medical Association ($60,810); Kentucky Association of Health Plans ($60,408); Kentucky Bankers Association ($54,240); Kentucky Farm Bureau Federation ($53,357); Kentucky Association of Electric Cooperatives ($51,752); University Health Care ($45,247); and Kentucky League of Cities ($42,877).”

Mongiardo says he has prescription for creating jobs

“We live in the best state in the country, but our state has never lived up to its potential,” Lt. Gov. Daniel Mongiardo said Tuesday during a campaign stop in Owensboro.

Mongiardo’s daughter, Kathryn Allison, is 4 months old. And he said he’s concerned about the Kentucky her generation will inherit.

Mongiardo said he has a prescription for creating the jobs and opportunities the state needs.
It includes energy, transportation and health care.

“We must do everything in our power to reduce our dependency on foreign oil,” Mongiardo said.

If Kentucky’s coal reserves were turned into liquid fuel, they would equal 800 billion barrels — “more than the oil reserves of the entire Middle East,” he said.

“Liquid coal is much cleaner burning that foreign petroleum,” Mongiardo said.

Three proposals for coal liquefaction plants are already on the drawing board — in Henderson, Muhlenberg and McCracken counties, he said.

Mongiardo said Kentucky could support 10 such plants — five in eastern Kentucky and five in western Kentucky.

Those plants could create 80,000 jobs, he said.

See the rest of the story in Wednesday’s Messenger-Inquirer.

Conway says his odds better than his horse’s

Attorney General Jack Conway isn’t the only one in the family in a race this spring.

He’s campaigning hard to win the Democratic nomination over Lt. Gov. Dan Mongiardo for the U.S. Senate seat now held by retiring Republican Jim Bunning.

And Stately Victor, a 3-year-old bay colt he owns with his father, Louisville attorney F. Thomas Conway, will be running in the Kentucky Derby on May 1.

So who has the best chance of winning?

“His odds are 20-1 right now,” Conway said with laugh Thursday afternoon in a telephone interview. “I think my odds are better.”

Read the rest of the story in Friday’s Messenger-Inquirer.

Grayson says Washington ‘broken’

“Washington is broken,” Kentucky Secretary of State Trey Grayson told the Daviess County Republican Women’s Club on Tuesday. “Republicans played a role in breaking it because we didn’t stay true to our  principles.”

But Grayson, a candidate for the GOP nomination for the U.S. Senate, told the gathering at the Campbell Club that Republicans have the best plan for reducing the deficit and getting America back on track.

Asked about the Tea Party movement and Sarah Palin’s endorsement of Rand Paul, his rival for the GOP nomination, Grayson said, “Anybody getting involved in the political process is helpful.”

But he said he encourages Tea Party supporters to stay within the Republican Party and not form a third party. That, Grayson said, could lead to Democratic victories.

On Palin, he said he doesn’t know why she endorsed Paul.

“I’ve never met her,” Grayson said. “But my views are her views. I think her staff let her down. But she hasn’t campaigned here yet.”

Former Vice President Dick Cheney has endorsed Grayson.

For more coverage of Grayson’s speech, see Wednesday’s Messenger-Inquirer.