Local News Politics

Beshear’s Decisions on Debates Draw Criticism

Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear’s re-election strategy is drawing increased criticism from political opponents and media outlets.

Both of the state’s major newspapers (Courier-Journal editoral, column; Herald-Leader) have written editorials slamming Beshear for skipping a KET debate on education. He has also declined an invitation to appear at an AARP forum. Recently, the governor changed his mind and skipped an event in west Louisville, where he won by a significant margin in 2007. He has also declined invitations to appear alone on WFPL and WHAS radio.

Beshear has a commanding lead in the polls over Republican David Williams and independent Gatewood Galbraith, and his strategy is common among frontrunners. But University of Louisville political science Professor Dewey Clayton says by not appearing, Beshear is denying voters important information.

“That’s one of the reasons why we have debates,” he says. “The public discourse allows citizens, in essence, to get the required information they need to make intelligent decisions, and not just negative campaign ads.”

Clayton adds that the strategy could be hurting the governor. Voters may not turn out on Election Day or may not support the governor if he wins re-election. It will also be difficult for him to claim a mandate if wins with low turnout or an unclear platform.

“The economy is in bad shape around the country. It’s in bad shape here in Kentucky. People are looking for the governor to lead,” says Clayton. “So when the governor will not attend forums, people automatically begin thinking, ‘Well this person has something to hide, or maybe I need to reassess what it is this person is wanting to put forward here.'”

Beshear has run two negative ads against Williams. A request for comment from the campaign was not returned. The governor will appear on another KET forum at the end of the month.

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Protest Seeks Answers from Washington Politicians

A protest was held outside the office building of Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) on Friday. Protesters held signs and chanted and said they’re tired of Washington Politics.

“It’s not being able to communicate. Each party, there are three political parties right now, each party has a political corner and they will not agree to the other side. And who is suffering: the people,” said Larry Tomes, a retired sergeant major and Louisville resident.

Protesters wanted answers about what might happen if Congress can’t make a decision on how to prevent default by Aug. 2. Many were concerned that if the U.S. does default, payments for Social Security and Medicare will be compromised, but those payments are likely to be made, said Dewey Clayton, a political science professor at the University of Louisville. But some payments might be cut short, he said.

“It’s really sort of up in the air as to exactly, as far as some of those other concerns, who will receive payments and who won’t,” he said.

It’s difficult to say what state bills won’t be paid if the federal government runs out of money, he said. But Clayton expects Congress to make a deal before the nation reaches the debt ceiling on Tuesday. If it doesn’t, the question becomes how long can states hold out, he said.

Gov. Steve Beshear recently announced Kentucky has added almost $122 million to its rainy-day fund, making it better off than many states if a default occurs, said Clayton.