Reactions to Obama’s address

Here are a couple of official statements from Kentucky’s elected officials following President Barack Obama’s address to a joint session of Congress Tuesday night.

From U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell

“Tonight Kentuckians and all Americans were proud eyewitnesses to history as an African-American president addressed a joint session of Congress for the first time.

“Over the years, there have been many important markers in our nation’s long journey toward racial equality. Few have been as compelling as seeing President Obama in the Speaker’s rostrum tonight.

“The President’s message was important and timely: America faces great challenges in the months and years ahead, and I was heartened to hear of his commitment to the millions who are struggling to hold onto homes and jobs and who are worried about what the future holds for themselves and their children.

“As we work to address all these concerns, we will have our differences. Republicans believe the road back to prosperity is paved with greater personal freedom, not bigger government, and that in this moment of economic hardship, we should be more vigilant about spending taxpayer dollars, not less.

“But one thing is clear: working through the current troubles will require a shared commitment as we address America’s challenges ahead.”

From U.S. Sen. Jim Bunning – 

“Our nation is facing many difficult challenges right now and I want to work with our new President to meet them head on.  Many Americans are suffering due to the current financial crisis and we need to work together to find commonsense solutions that will help get our economy back on track.  

“If we really want to stimulate the economy we need to enact policies that will have a direct and immediate impact.  I believe the best way to do this is by focusing our attention on targeted tax relief that will allow Americans to keep more of what they earn.  By empowering American families and small businesses we can create new jobs and grow the economy. 

“We also need to get serious about fiscal responsibility.  We can’t spend our way out of this crisis.  Piling debt on top of debt is not the answer.  If we don’t stop out-of-control government spending now it will only lead to larger economic problems down the road and leave a tab that our children and grandchildren will be paying for years to come.”

From U.S. Rep. Brett Guthrie, KY-2 – 

“President Obama’s address tonight was a historic moment for our nation.  He made it clear that our nation is facing difficult challenges.  I agree that we can overcome these challenges by working together to strengthen the economy, create jobs, and restore the financial security Americans want and deserve. 

 “I look forward to working with President Obama.  However, I assure you that where I disagree with the President I will not compromise my principles.  Empowering Kentucky families and small businesses by letting them keep more of what they earn, not by expanding the government through higher taxes and uncontrollable spending, is the best way to promote jobs and recover economic growth.

 “I am confident that the American people will show the same resilience and integrity in this crisis as they have before, and because of these strong resources, I am confident America’s economic future is prosperous.”

State’s top Republicans in Bowling Green tonight

Some of the state’s top Republicans will be in Bowling Green tonight for the Warren County GOP’s Lincoln Day dinner

Among the elected officials attending are Bowling Green’s U.S. Rep. Brett Guthrie, who began his first term in Congress last month, and both of Kentucky’s U.S. senators – Mitch McConnell and Jim Bunning

Given that there has been a bit of tension of late between KY’s two U.S. senators over Bunning’s plans to see re-election next year, tonight’s dinner could be an interesting one to watch. 

Also at the dinner will be Senate President David Williams of Burkesville and attorney J. Marshall Hughes, who is running for Guthrie’s seat in the Kentucky Senate.

The dinner will surely be a boost for Hughes, who is running against Democrat Mike Reynolds in a special election for the 32nd District slated for Tuesday. 

The event begins at 5 p.m. CST and is being held at the Carroll Knicely Center on Western Kentucky University’s South Campus.

Update …

Here is the story about the event from the Bowling Green Daily News.

“Trading cards” from last Bunning-Mongiardo matchup

The Rothenberg Political Report has a set of “trading cards” on display today from the 2004 U.S. Senate race between incumbent Republican Jim Bunning and Democrat Daniel Mongiardo produced by Mongiardo’s campaign. 

The set of nine “beanball cards” peg Mongiardo as  a “relief pitcher” while calling Bunning, a baseball Hall of Fame pitcher, a “special interest designated hitter” and “budget buster record breaker,” among other things. 

Given the announcement by Mongiardo, now lieutenant governor, on Monday that he’ll be gunning for Bunning’s seat again next year, we’ll see what other creative campaign fodder makes its way onto the trail. 

Bunning told reporters during a conference call this morning that he will definitely be seeking a third term next year and responded to comments by U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell made at the National Press Club last week. 

McConnell “had a lapse of memory when he was speaking to the press club last week when he said he didn’t know what my intentions were,” Bunning told the Herald-Leader. “Whatever Mitch says is whatever he says. He’s the leader of the pack and he can say whatever he wants and get away with it.”

Mongiardo announces run for U.S. Senate

Lt. Gov. Dan Mongiardo announced today that he will be running for the U.S. Senate seat next year, his second attempt at the office.

Lt. Gov. Dan Mongiardo

Lt. Gov. Dan Mongiardo

In a statement issued Monday, Mongiardo, a surgeon from Hazard, cites his “passion to improve health care for all Kentuckians” as a driving force in his decision to run for the Senate again. 

Mongiardo lost by less than 2 percentage points to U.S. Sen. Jim Bunning, a Southgate Republican, in 2004. 

Mongiardo used his announcement to criticize Bunning, who has said he will seek a third term in office but who has done little fundraising. 

“With our nation facing enormous challenges, families and small businesses mired in a deep economic recession, rising health care costs and declining incomes, we have a senator who is simply not getting the job done,” Mongiardo said in the statement. “Jim Bunning is absent at this critical time.  He offers no ideas, no action and no solutions.”

Mongiardo’s announcement was followed by a statement from Gov. Steve Beshear – 

“Daniel Mongiardo has been an invaluable member of this administration and would make an outstanding U.S. Senator for the Commonwealth of Kentucky. Daniel has been my administration’s point person on two critical issues – advancing our economy through the transformation of our tourism industry with adventure tourism and dramatically improving health care by pushing Kentucky to be a national leader in e-health. Daniel’s passion for – and commitment to – these issues and others make him an important voice for Kentucky’s future. In particular, I understand his desire to be part of the national debate on how best to create a more affordable and accessible health-care system for all Americans. I wish him and Allison all the best as they embark on this new and challenging adventure together.”

Update, 3:13 p.m. …

The Herald-Leader is reporting that Attorney General Jack Conway said during a press conference in his Capitol office today that he is still “very interested” in a run for the U.S. Senate, which would set up a contested Democratic primary in the race.

2010 Senate race ratings

For those already looking ahead to next year’s election season, the Rothenberg Political Report already has its ratings for the 2010 U.S. Senate races.

U.S. Sen. Jim Bunning (AP photo)

U.S. Sen. Jim Bunning (AP photo)

The seat of U.S. Sen. Jim Bunning, a Republican from Southgate in northern Kentucky, is one of four races listed as a toss-up by Rothenberg. 

Speculation about who might challenge Bunning was rampant even in early 2008, and those named as possible Democratic nominees include Lt. Gov. Dan Mongiardo, who lost to Bunning in 2004, state Auditor Crit Luallen and state Attorney General Jack Conway. Democrat Bruce Lunsford, who lost last year to U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell, has also been mentioned as a contender. 

Some had questioned whether Bunning, a baseball Hall of Fame pitcher, would seek a third term, and Secretary of State Trey Grayson, a Republican, has said he would be interested in the seat if Bunning declined to run. 

But in December, Bunning moved closer to seeking another term with the formation of his campaign steering committee that will focus on raising money, according to the Kentucky Enquirer’s Pat Crowley.

C-J: Bunning not filling coffers for re-election effort

Joe Gerth with the Courier-Journal has a piece today looking at the fundraising efforts of U.S. Sen. Jim Bunning, the northern Kentucky Republican whose seat has been a hot topic of conversation for months. 

According to Gerth, Bunning reiterated during an interview last week that he plans to run for re-election in 2010, but only has $175,000 in his campaign chest – far less than other incumbent senators potentially running again in two years. 

Along with speculation over whether Bunning will run again is talk about who the Democrats will field in the race, with Lt. Gov. Dan Mongiardo, Attorney General Jack Conway and State Auditor Crit Luallen mentioned as possible contenders. 

Check out Gerth’s report to find out more.

Update…

Pat Crowley with the Kentucky Enquirer also took a look at Bunning’s plans in an article today.