In-Depth News Local News Next Louisville Politics WFPL News Department Podcast

In Depth: Tea Party And Outside Forces Will Likely Have Little Effect On Mayor’s Race

For months, pundits and political observers have offered various insights into the 2010 elections. This could be a big year for the Tea Party, for mainstream Republicans, for moderates or for challengers to incumbents. But those are national predictions.

WFPL’s Gabe Bullard has more on how the Louisville mayor’s race may or may not conform to broad political narratives.

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The lunch hour is winding down on a recent visit to Wick’s Pizza on Dixie Highway, where I met with Jason Perkey. Perkey works for two Democratic candidates who are challenging incumbent Republicans in southwest Louisville. The first is Marty Meyer, who is running against state Senator Dan Seum. The other is David Yates, who is facing Metro Councilman Doug Hawkins.

Seum and Hawkins have both spoken at Tea Party rallies, but Perkey doesn’t think that gives them an edge in their districts, despite the attention the party has received this election year. He says having two viable local candidates talking about local issues has energized southwestern Democrats.

“David has hit over 10,000 doors in the last few months…10,000 doors. Marty’s campaign, I think we’ve just hit over the 15,000 door mark,” says Perkey. “That means we have a ground game and we have been reaching people in their homes to share a level of urgency that we believe they need in order to turn out.”

If Meyer and Yates can close the enthusiasm gap in their party, Perkey says that will benefit Democratic mayoral candidate Greg Fischer. But former Jefferson County Republican Party chair Brad Cummings doesn’t believe that will necessarily be the case.

“I wouldn’t be shocked to hear people aren’t pulling the straight D or straight R,” says Cummings.

Cummings says conservative voters are energized, and this is a good year for the GOP, but in Louisville, convincing Republicans to vote for Republicans isn’t the key to victory…it’s getting Democrats to either stay home or cross over, and he thinks voters are willing to do that in the mayor’s race.

“When you get to a position like the mayor, that’s more about leadership than it is about whether you’ve got the R or the D behind your name,” he says. “It’s more about what’s your vision for the future of the city.”

Polls have shown a close mayoral race, with many Democrats supporting Republican candidate Hal Heiner, though Fischer maintains a slight lead.

University of Louisville political science professor Dewey Clayton says crossover voters on both sides are drawn by individual issues, not any national movement or statewide campaigns.

“Of the races that we’re looking at, I would say probably the mayor’s race is one where people are looking more at the candidates and the issues because they seem to have come out and made a lot of statements on a lot of issues,” says Clayton. “I would think there would be less party line voting.”

The party faithful tend to dominate midterm election turnout. And Democrats far outnumber Republicans in Louisville. But Clayton expects the mayor’s race to be close to the finish. He says other elections—from the state Senate to the U.S. Senate—won’t likely sway voters any more than the mayoral candidates’ positions on issues like the student assignment plan, which has been at the center of recent television ads and candidates debates.

“It wouldn’t surprise me if that sort of will give people more information, and some people may make a decision based on the candidates’ stance on that issue in particular,” he says.

And the student assignment plan, just like local job attraction, government transparency and most of the other issues that have dominated the mayor’s race, doesn’t break along national party lines.

Next Louisville State of Affairs

State of the News: Mayoral Debate

As the countdown to Election Day continues, we’ll hear what the candidates for Louisville mayor have to say about issues related to downtown, in a debate sponsored by the Louisville Downtown Management District and Downtown Development Corp. Join us on Friday for live coverage of the debate beginning at noon, followed by analysis with our political experts.

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Next Louisville State of Affairs

Mayoral Candidate Jackie Green

Jackie Green, independent candidate for Louisville Metro Mayor hasn’t been invited to as many debates his major-party competitors have. But while his platform might not have had as much exposure, but he has a lot to say about education, health, the local economy and especially transportation. And while his poll numbers are small, his campaign isn’t frivolous; his website frankly says, “our objective is to occupy the office.” This Thursday, in the first of our candidate shows leading up to Election Day, Jackie Greene joins us for an hour to talk about his vision for Louisville and to take your calls and emails.

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State of Affairs

State of the News

Whew – it’s hot! And for some Kentucky politicians, it’s likely to get hotter this weekend as the annual Fancy Farm picnic gets underway. We’ll talk with Kentucky Public Radio’s Tony McVeigh on his way to Fancy Farm about what is expected this year. Next we’ll switch to the Louisville mayor’s race and talk about the latest poll results and debate. We’ll finish up the hour with news from around the region. Join us Friday for this week’s edition of State of the News.

Arts and Humanities Local News Next Louisville Raw Audio

Mayoral Forum Offers Ideas for City's Arts Future

Eleven candidates for Louisville mayor spoke at a forum on the arts and culture last night. WFPL’s Elizabeth Kramer reports.

(To listen to the entire forum, click on Listen to the story.)

Local businessman Chuck Maisch opened the event recounting how a few business leaders started the Louisville Orchestra in the aftermath of the 1937 flood and in the midst of the Great Depression. He spoke about how the orchestra, on the brink of bankruptcy, was saved by the foresight of another business leader, Charles Farnsley, who became mayor.

Maisch used that story to rouse the candidates before turning over the floor.

“What we’re hoping to hear tonight is not just your words about your love of the arts and so on,” Maisch said. “But we really hope that we hear about the actions that you plan to move arts forward.”

During the next two hours, more than 300 spectators listened to candidates answer nearly a dozen questions in between their opening and closing remarks about their vision for the arts and culture in Louisville.

Many candidates emphasized generating more support to preserve and restore Louisville’s landmark architecture in various neighborhoods. And almost all spoke about the need to bring art and culture to children through education and special programs.

David Bretschneider says he was happy to hear those ideas.

“I appreciate the fact that there was emphasis on education and getting the kids involved,” he says. “I don’t like the fact that the schools have taken arts, music, industrial arts even — I’m a word worker by trade and nobody’s learning.”

Some questions covered special taxes and other funding mechanisms for arts and cultural programs. Most candidates were ambiguous about their plans in that area.

Lucy Langman, who came to listen to their ideas, says she didn’t hear anything novel.

“But it was good to get an idea of where these candidates are as far as how they see art being brought into their administrations and how they see, you know, art with development and the economic impact it has,” she says.

The Kentucky School of Art and several other local arts and cultural groups presented the forum. David Cupps of Arts Kentucky moderated the discussion.