Local News Noise & Notes Politics

Mongiardo Rips General Assembly, Williams Over Redistricting Plan

Calling it an exercise in hyper-partisanship, former Lt. Governor Daniel Mongiardo criticized Kentucky lawmakers for adopting a controversial redistricting plan that faces a potential lawsuit.

The Democratic-controlled House drafted a plan that put nine Republican incumbents in the same district, which almost guarantees their 59-to-41 majority would grow. In response, the GOP-controlled Senate carved a map that drew out liberal state Sen. Kathy Stein, D-Lexington, and made other Democratic leaning districts in Louisville more conservative.

House Republicans have promised to file a lawsuit Thursday to challenge the new legislative district maps in Franklin County Circuit Court, which will include a motion to stop them from taking immediate effect.

Mongiardo says he supports legislation creating an independent commission to draw new districts, adding a non-partisan group would put the interests of citizens above the “self-serving interests of the politicians” in either political party.

“While many will say redistricting is just politics as usual, it is much more than that. The redistricting plans recently passed by the General Assembly and signed by the Governor was an exercise in hyper-partisanship that disenfranchises hundreds of thousands of citizens and should be overturned,” he says. “It is this type of unnecessarily divisive partisan politics that further weakens our political systems ability to solve the difficult problems confronting our state and nation.”

Local News

Conway Wins Democratic Primary for U.S. Senate Seat

Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway is the winner of the Democratic primary for the U.S. Senate seat up for grabs in November’s general election. Conway won with less than a one-point lead against opponent Lieutenant Governor Daniel Mongiardo in a race that was too close to call until late Tuesday night.  In his acceptance speech, Conway addressed all the national–and international–attention on the state’s Republican primary, in which Tea Party favorite Rand Paul was the victor.

“It’s my understanding that the eyes of the national media have descended on our beloved Commonwealth of Kentucky tonight. I’ve got news for them: both Jack Conway and Dan Mongiardo got more votes than Rand Paul tonight….”

Conway thanked his supporters and called Mongiardo a worthy opponent.  He used much of the rest of his time at the podium to criticize his rival in November and energize his campaign to be Kentucky’s first Democratic Senator in many years.

(Photo courtesy of Kentucky State Government)

Local News

Primary Senate Race Fires Up Democrats

By Elizabeth Kramer

This year’s open U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Republican Senator Jim Bunning has Kentucky Democrats brimming with hope that this could be their year to have one of their own on that side of that ruling body for the first time in more than a decade. With the primary election only five days away, the battle is heating up between Democrats Jack Conway and Daniel Mongiardo.

And this Senate race in particular had Jefferson County Democrats whooping and hollering last Friday at a party dinner as Congressman John Yarmuth introduced the last Democrat from Kentucky to hold a U.S. Senate seat.

“The great Senator Wendell Ford,” Yamouth’s voice bellows through the cavernous room.

After serving as Kentucky Governor, Ford was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1974 and held that seat for 24 years. Now, at 85 years old, he’s itching for his party to win his old seat back.

“It’s been 4,148 days since I left the Senate,” Ford says, “And it’s time to get that seat back with one of these two candidates.”

Those two candidates are Attorney General Jack Conway and Lt. Gov. Daniel Mongiardo. And what gives Democrats hope is how six years ago then-State Senator Mongiardo came within 2 percentage points from defeating Republican Senator Jim Bunning.

Then a major issue was the Iraq war and Mongiardo campaigned on that and health care. This time around, he’s talking about the state’s financial health and taking his talking points to voters throughout the rural and urban rural areas, as he did recently in Louisville.

“If we got government back to bottom-up management,” Mongiardo says, “we’ll solve the problems that are facing our families today — the loss of jobs, the loss of homes, losing heath insurance and all these issues — because we’ll know them as soon as they’re happening, not by some statistic months later.”

This time around Mongiardo is not the heir apparent. His main opponent, Jack Conway, has raised more than two and half million dollars compared to Mongiardo’s nearly $2 million.

But as Conway works the same room of Democrats this evening, he sings a tune akin to his rival’s.

“Jobs and accountability and fiscal responsibility,” Conway states in a matter-of-fact manner.

But Conway’s added a twist to that song to help him close in on Mongiardo’s advantage in some of the polls to date, which Margiaro has sometimes led by double digits. In Conway’s chorus, he highlights his accomplishments in his current job.

“I’ve got to point to my positive record of accomplishment, Conway says, “of saving ratepayers over $100 million and the fact that we created a cybercrimes unit as Attorney General that’s taken 68,000 child porn images off of the Internet.”

With similar messages, the fierce competition between the two has been most apparent in campaign attack ads. For instance, Conway has criticized Mongiardo for his use of public money while travelling on state business. And Mongiardo has taken Conway to task for accepting money from people tied to Wall Street.

But some observers say it’s not the ads that will make the difference on Tuesday, but name recognition, grassroots campaigning and links to the political establishment — especially with anti-incumbent sentiment running high. One is Al Cross, the director of the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues at the University of Kentucky.

“With Mongiardo, the labor support he has will probably be significant in terms of turning out vote on Election Day,” Cross says. “With Conway, it’s hard to say. He’s supported by some major figures in the party, but it sort of reemphasizes that Conway’s the establishment candidate.”

And as Cross sees it, it won’t be the votes from the strictly rural or urban areas that make the winner. He says he thinks the race will be decided by voters in small cities like Elizabethtown, Campbellsville, Danville, Richmond and Mount Sterling.

And whatever voters decide, the Democrats are ready to back their candidate to the hilt. Former Senator Wendell Ford is already thinking about the party’s focus next Wednesday morning, the day after voters have made their choices in the primary.

“We’ll eat our scrambled eggs and bacon, eat those biscuits,” he tells the crowd, “and turn ourselves ready for the war in November.”