We Get What You Paid For: Karl Rove, Terry Forcht, the Kentucky Democratic Party & the 13th District Special Election

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December 9, 2013
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Here, watch this:

That’s the new ad from the Reggie Thomas for State Senate campaign. It was posted Sunday evening onto the YouTube. Interestingly, it was posted on both the Reggie Thomas campaign YouTube page and on a Kentucky Democratic Party YouTube page, and neither page appears to have any other videos posted… they just woke up Sunday morning and decided to check out this “YouTube” everyone is talking about.

Just one video each and room for maybe one more. Let’s rock.

Dead Man’s Party by Oingo Boingo on Grooveshark

On Friday evening in a gracious Friday night news dump, we posted a longer look at some of the money behind the Richard Moloney campaign.

Moloney accepted $1,000 from Terry Forcht who, as you may have gathered (sort of) from the video above, is the moneyguy for the Karl Rove SuperPAC American Crossroads/Crossroads GPS. Rove’s group spent $70 Million on the 2010 midterm elections and nearly $200 Million on the 2012 Presidential Election. That’s an astounding amount of money — money that was funnelled through Terry Forcht’s bank — and it’s remarkable that after spending all that money, Terry Forcht and Karl Rove failed miserably to affect the outcome of the 2012 election.

(It’s also remarkable that after what Karl Rove did with the American economy over 8 years with the Bush White House anyone would’ve trusted him with hundreds of millions of dollars — it’s not surprising, just remarkable, like, oh, we just remarked upon it. Also remarkable? Karl Rove still has a job.)

So we asked Moloney — a guy who proclaims himself a progressive and who says he promises to uphold the progressive mantle of Kathy Stein’s Senate seat — what he had to say about taking money from Karl Rove’s bagman.

Moloney’s response was… lackluster. Here it is again:

While I was president of REACH, I worked closely with the presidents of multiple banks in Fayette County to fund our affordable housing programs. They supported me when I ran for council and they support me in my bid for senate because they know and trust me. Unlike my opponent who has funding from the Democratic party and their PACs (where individual donors and their business interests are not divulged), I’m the independent candidate and appreciative of the bankers’ support. You will see that I also received support from Luther Deaton at Central Bank and Bill Alverson at Traditional Bank.

I’ve bolded the important parts that were relevant to the questi… oh, oh wait. There’s nothing bolded. That must be because Moloney’s answer has pretty much nothing to do with why he would take Terry Forcht’s money and to the extent that his answer does address the question, it curiously makes no mention of Terry Forcht and fails completely to address the question of why Moloney, self-avowed progressive, would take money from the moneyman for one of — if not the — biggest and most powerful far right conservative Super PACs.

Which — if you’ll recall — was the question.

Instead, Moloney played dumb. Forcht’s just a normal guy, nothing to see here. And Moloney includes this incredulous excuse:

Unlike my opponent who has funding from the Democratic party and their PACs (where individual donors and their business interests are not divulged)

Moloney responds to a question about his ties to the moneyman for Karl Rove’s Super PAC by suggesting that PACs are bad and undemocratic.

Give us a break, dude. And give Terry Forcht his money back.

We suggested to Moloney that he do just that — give the money back — or risk the ire of the 13th District voters who are vocally liberal, highly educated, and no great fans of Karl Rove or his friends. But Moloney doesn’t appear to have done that — or if he did, he doesn’t appear to have told anyone. And so now there’s this ad from the Democratic nominee.

Terry Forcht has steered at least $4,000 to the Moloney campaign:

In addition to that money (and any other donors Forcht may have lead Moloney’s way), there’s another $1,000 from the Alliance Coal PAC, run by GOP and Big Coal heavy hitter Joe Craft.

Joe Craft’s Alliance Coal gave $2,000,000 to the Terry Forcht/Karl Rove American Crossroads outfit back in 2010.

Also maxing out to the Moloney campaign is Kelly Knight.

Here’s a really cute photograph of the Richard Moloney for State Senate campaign donors with the brains himself, Mr. Karl Christian Rove:

From left to right: Joe Craft, Kelly Knight, Turd Blossom.

Kelly Knight, if you don’t know her — and we should all know our Richard Moloney campaign donors, shouldn’t we? — is basically Mitch McConnell. Knight and Craft have tagteamed fundraising for John Boehner, hauling in over $1,000,000 for the orange one. Knight was the Mitt Romney campaign’s Kentucky finance co-chairwoman, and now she’s doing the same thing for Mitch McConnell, heading up his women’s fundraising efforts for his re-election campaign.

And, as a lovely commenter pointed out, when she’s not raising money for Republican Party leaders, she’s maxing out to Richard Moloney, the guy who wants to take Kathy Stein’s seat:

(Oh, she’s also in the mix for Lt. Governor running mate in the early GOP gubernatorial posturing.)

For a man who’s given almost half as much to his own campaign as he’s actually been able to raise, Richard Moloney needs every penny and the $6,000 listed above is already over 10% of his total campaign haul… and we’re not even counting the thousands from the Ball Homes folks or well… look:

Richard Moloney can take money from whomever he wants, but he’s naive if he thinks that won’t matter to voters and he’s flat-out lying to voters if he thinks it shouldn’t make a difference. There’s no reason a progressive candidate should take money from Terry Forcht and there’s certainly no reason why a progressive candidate would accept that money in a district as resiliently progressive as the Immovable and Fighting 13th.

Forcht has a lot of money. He can buy a lot of elections. That doesn’t mean he needs to buy Kathy Stein’s seat. So, yes, Richard Moloney can give that money back or…

This Democratic Party ad. What can I say.

It’s lazy. It’s misleading. It’s hilarious and it is ridiculous.

It’s a lazy ad because as far as I can tell, the campaign has a paid staff and they got their research for the ad off a blog site. They don’t appear to have contributed one new fact to the argument. (One could argue they’ve also cheapened the argument… that music?)

It’s misleading. That part where it says, “Richard Moloney [very slight pause] Karl Rove’s Banker?” is absurd. Richard Moloney, clearly, is not Karl Rove’s banker and yet some dipstick who gets paid out of your campaign contributions thought it’d be really ‘smart’ to jam those two together, remove the context and pretend like they were tricking people.

A lot of people complain about money in elections, like the wealthy’s ability to purchase our elected officials is the true evil. It is very bad and it must be stopped, there is no doubt (although, if you look at the Karl Rove/Terry Forcht track record, they’re not exactly executing very well).

But perhaps an equally bad component to all the money in politics is that it means campaigns hire morons and hand them piles of cash to create advertisements that only degrade and dumb-down an already dumbed-down and degraded political process.

Case in point: This terrible TV ad.

It refers to Reggie Thomas as “The Real Democrat” and seconds later demands of us, “Our Only Choice for State Senate”  as if we have none.

Richard Moloney is a Democrat. He is for gay marriage, he’s for a Fairness Law, he’s for immigration reform, he’s for restoring felon voting rights… Moloney is such a total and complete Democrat he shares Alison Lundergan Grimes’ Pro Coal platform and Richard Moloney is clearly the ‘pro coal candidate’ in this race. If you like Alison Lundergan Grimes, it’s likely you’d like Richard Moloney.

Reggie Thomas is a Democrat, too. He’s for gay marriage (just keep it quiet), he’s definitely and without any doubt a strong advocate and supporter of a statewide Fairness Law, he’s for immigration reform, he’s for restoring felon voting rights and if you can’t tell the difference between Alison Lundergan Grimes’ ideas on King Coal and Mitch McConnell’s and that kinda pisses you off, well then Reggie Thomas is the candidate for you.

And that’s the choice. Those two. (Or the Tea Party guy who likes Malcolm X… maybe the other two will split the vote? Worse things have happened.)

That the Kentucky Democratic Party continually runs campaigns based on the belief that if you don’t vote for the guy with the “D” beside his name, you’ll likely burn in political hell is testament to a larger problem. They elbow out people who might make the party stronger, they have a bunker mentality and they don’t realize that this sort of language is increasingly a turn off to liberal but independent minded voters of all ages (and in particular, I fear they may someday discover, our young people). Also, most of their candidates are kinda bummers.

And, yes, then there’s the “hilarious and ridiculous” part of this ad. Did you notice this picture in the Reggie Thomas ad?

You probably did notice it because at the same time they showed you the picture the announcer read you exactly what was written on the screen.

Now — the Democratic Party operatives who made this ad may think you are a complete idiot, but you will probably still recall that the content of this ad up to the Beshear moment is that Richard Moloney is Karl Rove’s banker… or something… and that Richard Moloney has taken money from bigtime GOP donors like Terry Forcht, Karl Rove’s buddy.

Right? You remember that? The previous 24 seconds of the advertisement?

Well forget it! Because there’s Steve Beshear! Isn’t he dreamy!

Steve Beshear… Karl Rove’s Banker!

Yes, Terry Forcht, the bigtime GOP bankroller who also happens to run the bank for Karl Rove’s far right American Crossroads SuperPAC, gave $1,000 to Steve Beshear’s 2011 re-election campaign. Does that mean Steve Beshear isn’t a real Democrat?

(We could give the KDP folks who made the ad a pass on not mentioning that because maybe they didn’t bother to look for it… but that would overlook the fact the Forcht/Beshear connection was explicitly mentioned in the blog post from which the entire rest of the ad appears to have been Rand Pauled lifted.)

So what’s the point here?

The point is that You have a choice.

Despite what the Thomas campaign and the Kentucky Democratic Party have to say, You have a choice. That doesn’t mean it’s a great choice. You may not love that choice. But you do have one. You will not burn in some political hell if you don’t vote for the “Democrat,” and we won’t be too mad at you if you vote for the guy who appears to be drowning in far right wing cash under the banner of a progressive candidacy — all for reasons we probably wouldn’t discover until after he took office.

That’s your choice.

Given the fact that at this point, Thomas is clearly the more progressive candidate (they’re equal on pretty much everything, so Thomas wins for at least wanting to protect Kentucky’s land, its people and its coalminers from the Big Coal companies that run this state), it’s a shame his condescending campaign treats the highly educated voters of the 13th like they’re 3rd graders rather than just winning on style and points. And it has most definitely done harm to his turnout — and aided Moloney’s.

Moloney, on the other hand, is a Democrat who’s flush with far right conservative cash. Why is he taking this money? That’s one question… the better one is why won’t he give it all back? If Richard Moloney is the progressive he says he is, that’s what he’d do. If you want to vote for him regardless of that money, well, that’s your choice.

But it’s likely you’ll step into that voting booth with visions of Karl Rove dancing in your head.

VOTE: TUESDAY, DECEMBER 10TH, 2013
13TH DISTRICT SPECIAL ELECTION
NONE OF THESE PEOPLE IS KATHY STEIN
LONG LIVE KATHY STEIN

(If you’re not sure whether you’re in the 13th District, you can ask yourself a series of questions: 1) Are you awesome? If Yes, you’re likely in the 13th; 2) Do you live in Lexington? Please return to question #1; 3) Do you live within New Circle Road? Please return to question #1; 4) Have you gone to the SecOfState website and looked up your precinct and polling station? https://cdcbp.ky.gov/VICWeb/index.jsp)

 

And just so you don’t leave with a sour Karl Rove taste in your mouth, here’s a photo of the ad buy the Thomas campaign made on facebook — thanks, donors!

Is Karl Rove’s Moneyman Trying to Buy Kathy Stein’s Seat? [The 13th District Special Election]

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December 6, 2013
By

Beast of Burden by The Rolling Stones on Grooveshark

The Special Election for Kathy Stein’s seat in the heart of Lexington is turning silly. The two campaigns are sending out competing attack mailers — and they’re really, really dumb. If you’ve given these guys money, you should be angry at how their spending it. The Thomas folks are calling Moloney — a life long Democrat — a Republican, and Moloney’s well… his communications guy, Kimball Geveden (one of the brains behind Dan Mongiardo’s failed homophobic campaign for US Senate), sent us and the Herald Leader a press release yesterday and it, well… it was really dumb, all innuendo and no real substance and I guess that’s supposed to be the equivalent of questioning someone’s trustworthiness. I guess. It’s the kind of stuff we’ve tried to stay away from here over the past two weeks — choosing instead to focus on the issues facing the 13th and the question of who is best to represent the 13th.

Which is to say: we have bigger fish to fry.

In a post earlier today I mentioned that Richard Moloney had taken $1,000 from Terry Forcht, the bank-man behind Karl Rove’s ultra-Right Wing American Crossroads SuperPAC.

That seemed worth exploring, so I asked Moloney about it:

As a self-proclaimed progressive candidate pledging to honor and maintain the progressive reputation of the 13th District Senate seat in the legacy of Ms. Kathy Stein, what do you have to say about accepting $1,000 from Terry Forcht, one of Karl Rove’s key allies in running the GOP attack machine that is American Crossroads?

 

Here’s Richard Moloney’s reply:

While I was president of REACH, I worked closely with the presidents of multiple banks in Fayette County to fund our affordable housing programs. They supported me when I ran for council and they support me in my bid for senate because they know and trust me. Unlike my opponent who has funding from the Democratic party and their PACs (where individual donors and their business interests are not divulged), I’m the independent candidate and appreciative of the bankers’ support. You will see that I also received support from Luther Deaton at Central Bank and Bill Alverson at Traditional Bank.

A couple things.

First, Moloney never really addresses the question and never mentions Mr. Forcht by name. He does answer the question in a way, but obviously that answer isn’t going to pacify the voters of the 13th District — voters who are not fond of Karl Rove in any way whatsoever, and that’s putting it as tepidly as humanly possibly.

Second! The justification Moloney uses for accepting Terry Forcht’s money is… well, it gets back to that question of Mr. Moloney’s ideological narrative. He is a spurned Democrat raging against the hamfisted control of a lamebrained party but he’s also a true independent who works across the aisle and who, progressive though he may be, is somehow able to speak the language of Kentucky’s Republican State Senators. The first part endears him to a sect of voters in the 13th, for sure, but the second part swerves into wonderland and one is left wondering where a vote for Moloney might actually deliver us.

Furthermore, the fact that Moloney’s opponent, Reggie Thomas, is receiving funds from the Democratic Party and their PACs is a mere result of Moloney choosing not to seek the Democratic Party nomination. That doesn’t mean he is consequently forced to accept any money from any person who offers it to him and his choice to accept Terry Forcht’s money is just that, his choice. It’s no one’s fault but his own.

And no, we are not done. Moloney’s justification — that his opponent is funded by Democratic PACs includes this hilarious parenthetical:

(where individual donors and their business interests are not divulged)

Excuse my French, but no shit.

The Citizens United case created a world in which unlimited funds can be funneled into US politics via Super PACs. One of the gravest abusers of this is American Crossroads — one of the biggest, if not the biggest, Super PACs in the country.

American Crossroads and its Crossroads GPS corollary and all its other tentacle groups are the brainstem of Karl Rove.

Karl Rove, you may recall, is the brains behind the 8 glorious George W. Bush years.

And Terry Forcht — supporter of Richard Moloney’s campaign — is the moneyguy for Karl Rove’s American Crossroads.

Now, we asked Moloney about the $1,000 that Terry Forcht gave his campaign but just a quick look reveals that was only a part of the Forcht infusion into the Moloney campaign:

Richard Moloney has raised $74,000 in total. Just over $20,000 of that came from Moloney himself or his direct family. Of the remaining $54,000, the Terry Forcht/Karl Rove/American Crossroads machine has given at least $4,000 — we didn’t keep looking — and after that you’ve got Alliance Coal throwing in $1,000 from their PAC… and it would be reckless to not mention that Alliance Coal gave the Terry Forcht/Karl Rove/American Crossroads Super PAC $2,000,000 in September 2010, not long after Rove organized the group…. and well, yes, Mr. Moloney makes a fine point: You’ve got to take money from someone to run a campaign and hopefully that money adds up.

But who are you willing to take money from?

American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS, the Karl Rove/Terry Forcht attack machine, spent $70,000,000 on the 2010 midterm elections. In 2012, they spent a whopping $176,000,000 trying to buy the White House for Mitt Romney — a costly disaster for all their donors and a galling waste of money.

Here’s a look at Forcht and American Crossroads from the Center for Public Integrity:

Crossroads’ banker

American Crossroads also looked to central Kentucky for its banking needs. It deposits its money in Forcht Bank, one of Kentucky’s largest bank groups, founded by Terry E. Forcht, a Louisville native whose business is located in Chandler’s district. American Crossroads uses Forcht Bank at the advice of Michael Duncan, former chairman of the Republican National Committee and chairman of American Crossroads, who himself owns community banks in Kentucky.

American Crossroad spokesman Jonathan Collegio said that, because Duncan is on the state Republican committee, he is not involved in any Crossroads decisions about Kentucky races. Duncan, who has known Rove since college, also contributed $1,000 to Barr’s campaign in 2010. Barr said he knows Duncan because of his role in Kentucky Republican politics, but he has never discussed American Crossroads with him.

Forcht is chairman and CEO of the Forcht Group of Kentucky, a group of 95 companies mainly in central Kentucky, including banks, nursing homes, radio stations, newspapers, insurance agencies, construction and real estate companies, and a thoroughbred horseracing farm. No public records show that Forcht donated money to American Crossroads, and Collegio said the only Forcht connection is that it is American Crossroads’ bank.

Forcht, his wife and employees of his companies have always contributed heavily to Republican parties and candidates, including $31,450 to Barr in 2010. They also contributed to the Republican Party of Kentucky, the National Republican Senatorial Committee, and Rand Paul.

Why is Terry Forcht taking such an interest in Kathy Stein’s seat? And how will the voters of the 13th District react to the knowledge that Karl Rove’s bagman is trying to buy off their representative?

Now, you could say that Terry Forcht’s allowed to give money to whomever he wants, and that’s true. And you could argue that just because Terry Forcht’s activities with Karl Rove are wildly out of touch with the voters of the 13th District, that doesn’t mean that his personal interest in the State Senate race in the heart of Lexington is anything but genuine and sincere concern for the direction of our blissfully liberal lives.

And you could also argue that Terry Forcht’s problems are not Richard Moloney’s, that Moloney simple accepted the money and all this Forchting around isn’t his problem.

But it is.

Richard Moloney is out of touch with the voters of Kathy Stein’s district if he believes they want that sort of influence whispering in his ear, and even he pledges to never take a meeting with Forcht… that’s not going to get the stink of Karl Rove off him. And in that sense, Terry Forcht is in fact Richard Moloney’s problem.

Terry Forcht can choose where to distribute his money — and the voters of Lexington’s Fighting 13th District can choose where to distribute their votes.

That’s how it works. Kathy Stein was unbought and unbossed — maybe we can’t have Kathy Stein all over again, but it wouldn’t hurt to steer in that direction.

So… Richard Moloney can give Terry Forcht his money back, or he can ride those checks to the bank and see what it buys him at the ballot box.

Is Terry Forcht’s money a beast of burden… or is it just a burden?

We should find out on Tuesday, December 10th, when the 13th District votes.

 

 

[And we'll note here, at the bottom, because it's worth noting, that the Forchts while primarily funders of GOP candidates are not unfamiliar with Democratic ones -- Terry gave $1,000 to Steve Beshear in 2011 and in September of this year Terry, Marion and Ted Forcht gave $1,000 each to Lexington Mayor Jim Gray... but we can dig into that another time... if we need to.]

The Fighting 13th — Thomas Moves Left on LGBT Issues; Is Moloney the Big Coal Candidate? [*UPDATED*]

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December 6, 2013
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***See Also, 12.7.13: Is Karl Rove’s Moneyman Trying to Buy Kathy Stein’s Seat?***

 

In the ongoing effort to understand the choices in next Tuesday’s Special Election to fill the seat of the irreplaceable Ms.  Kathy Stein we have an update and a question.

If you’ve been following along, you know that the B&P questionnaire seemed to reveal some very clear space between Reggie Thomas, Democrat, and Richard Moloney, Independent, on the question of LGBT issues.

In our question to them, we asked about both the Fairness Law and Gay Marriage. Moloney responded that he would not only support a Fairness Law, he’d introduce one; and in regard to the gay marriage ban, Moloney called it unconstitutional. Thomas on the other hand stated he would support a Fairness Law but curiously, he failed to address in any substantive way (i.e., directly) the very explicitly stated question on gay marriage. This lead us to give the very clear edge to Mr. Moloney.

Well, Reggie Thomas has reached back out to clarify/expand on his position and his answer. Yesterday Thomas received the endorsement of the Fairness Coalition, the LGBT/civil rights group, and following that endorsement, engaged B&P in an ultimately productive exchange.

Mr. Thomas writes:

I will have no hesitation speaking out in support of gay marriage. You will find me doing so during the 2014 session should I get elected. However, I am interested in going to Frankfort to get things done, not simply bask in the title of Senator. In the present political environment of Kentucky, I am not going to accomplish removal of the constitutional ban on same-sex marriage within the next three years. On the other hand, I do feel it is probable that I can work to repeal HB 279 and at the same time pass a statewide fairness law by 2016. I will give this effort a great deal of my energy.
Once I  accomplish this, then I believe in short order I can have success in obtaining removal of the gay marriage ban.

By the way, I will work to draft and sponsor a bill in early 2014 to repeal HB 279 and draft another bill to adopt a statewide fairness law. I want you to know in closing that establishing full equality of members of the LGBT community is my civil rights issue and one I want to see come to fruition in Kentucky in my lifetime.

[HB 279 is the positively insane "religious freedom bill" made into law this year that guts fairness ordinances statewide and protects the protected rights of protected people from nonexistent infringements upon their already completely protected religious freedoms. Lexington 'democrat' Ruth Ann Palumbo voted to pass the law. Read the LEO.]

Now, Mr. Thomas’ clarifying position came after some back and forth in which he suggested that overturning the marriage ban is just not feasible at this time and my suggesting back to him that things aren’t really feasible until we make them so… and I shared with him this great moment in Fighting 13th History when former 13th District Senator Ernesto Scorsone stood virtually alone to oppose Kentucky’s Constitutional Ban on Gay Marriage:

I’d say Mr. Thomas’s statement that “I am interested in going to Frankfort to get things done, not simply bask in the title of Senator” is still perhaps misunderstanding the question, but overall it is clear that his stance on the Fairness Law, LGBT and civil rights, and on gay marriage are all in-line with 13th District voters.

We started out the week suggesting that Mr. Moloney had the edge on this issue. This is clearly no longer the case. Mr. Thomas is as good a choice as Mr. Moloney to uphold this particular plank in the 13th District platform.

And earlier in the week, we called this choice between Moloney and Thomas a draw — Moloney at the time seemed better on the above question, and Thomas seemed better on Big Coal and the environment.

In Part 2 of our Q&A we asked Thomas and Moloney about the coal issue. Here’s how they answered:

ARE YOU A ‘FRIEND OF COAL’?

REGGIE THOMAS:

I would support legislation to protect Kentucky’s land, water, and other natural resources from the ill effects of surface mining. I have traveled to eastern Kentucky many times and recognize that region has some of the most beautiful natural resources in the Commonwealth. Yet, for many reasons, those resources have been exploited and have not served to benefit the citizens of the region.

Through the efforts of many dedicated state workers and community activists, I have also seen many reclaimed streams and abandoned strip mines that show we can make progress. I would like to celebrate these successes more widely and allocate more state dollars to these efforts while minimizing surface mining.

It is now inevitable that in order for Kentucky, particularly its coalfields, to escape the increasing poverty and deprivation we are sinking into, we must take advantage of the ideas of other states that would bring good jobs and stop further destruction of Eastern Kentucky. I am interested in hearing more from Pike County Representative Leslie Combs who recently wrote a roadmap for all sides to follow in addressing the real issues, instead of continuing the traditional trash-talk that now dominates the debate between protecting the environment and protecting jobs.

RICHARD MOLONEY:

I support Kentucky’s coal being mined in a safe and environmentally sound manner. While I also support renewable energy alternatives as part of a balanced energy approach, I will never turn my back on Kentucky coal. It sustains many communities economically and is directly or indirectly responsible for tens of thousands of jobs across the breadth of our Commonwealth, jobs that many Kentucky families depend on to pay their mortgage, for health care and their children’s college tuition. Equally important, coal provides an affordable form of energy which is critical to our working poor and seniors on fixed incomes.

Thomas clearly went into more detail and Moloney clearly erred toward the Big Coal line.

Moloney has received $1,000 from Alliance Coal, the Joe Craft driven coal giant. (Moloney has also taken some big money from some big-time GOP funders including $2,000 from Don and Mira Ball and $1,000 from Terry Forcht, the banker for Karl Rove’s American Crossroads SuperPAC).

The difference between the two on this issue is even more stark if you look at the Kentuckians For the Commonwealth Q&A.

Here’s the KFTC question:

6. In the process of surface mining in eastern Kentucky, coal companies blow up layers of rock and dirt that lie above coal seams and push the waste material into valley and hollow fills. As water flows through those sites, large quantities of harmful metals and salts are dissolved, creating lasting and serious pollution problems in many headwater streams. These problems are widespread: a recent report to Congress by the Kentucky Division of Water stated that 92% of the Big Sandy River is impaired and identified resource extraction as the primary cause of that pollution. Would you support legislation to end the practice of filling valleys and burying streams with mine waste? What other steps do you support to protect water quality from the harmful effects of surface coal mining?

Reggie Thomas submitted a response that was virtually identical to how he responded to the B&P question (which is to say, he answered the question correctly).

But check out Richard Moloney’s answer:

RICHARD MOLONEY: I am not familiar enough with this issue to have a strong opinion and while I support Kentucky coal, I do believe coal mining should be done in a responsible and environmentally safe manner.  I would be open-minded and willing to learn more about this issue.

Richard Moloney, who states that he “will never turn his back on Kentucky coal” — which has literally nothing to do with the issue or the question — also states that he’s not familiar with the process of surface mining and efforts to protect the people of Eastern Kentucky from its very negative effects.

I’ve reached out to Mr. Moloney for a clarification on his coal stance, but based on all currently available information, Moloney is coming from the Alison Lundergan Grimes wing of the Democratic party and seems to be toeing the Big Coal line… and if that’s the kind of Democrat you like, then he’s the one for you!

What Moloney is certainly not — unless he chooses to clarify his position, and we are all ears — is a Kathy Stein style Democrat.

Stein, in a lesson to both Moloney and Thomas, has proposed Stream Saver bills in the past — basically the exact bill that KFTC is asking about and about which Moloney has no familiarity — and she has done so with the full awareness that the bill would not pass and for the sole purpose of trying to force the issue into the conversation anyway.

Someone should make both Moloney and Thomas read this from Mr. Meador in the LEO three-and-a-half years ago:

Lexington state Sen. Kathy Stein, D-13, recently filed the very stream saver-like Senate Bill 139.

“We need to have a bill for folks to rally around,” Stein says, mentioning that fellow progressive and Louisvillian Rep. Mary Lou Marzian, D-34, has filed a similar bill. “The thing that makes me so berserk are my mountain colleagues. They continue to support the coal industry and everything that they say — that coal’s so good for the economy — but if you look at the poverty rates in some of these counties with coal producers, you find it’s not the case. If you’re so damn good for eastern Kentucky, then why does eastern Kentucky end up perpetually one of the poorest regions in the nation?”

Stein is realistic about S.B. 139’s chances in the hands of Gooch, knowing full well it will be strangled, slowly, like a helpless puppy, in his committee.

“A measure of progress for the bill will be the kind of coverage we get for things like mountaintop removal mining,” she says. If the bill manages to get out of Gooch’s hands, adds Stein, it will go to Hazard Rep. Brandon Smith, R-30, another coal industry darling who reportedly drives an Escalade with a coal-themed vanity plate.

As of this writing, Mr. Thomas — who is decidedly and decisively better on Coal — is learning a bit about the Kathy Stein method of politicking, which is that change doesn’t happen if you sit around and wait for it; and that’s his role should he be elected to the Senate… and doing so is not in anyway similar to “basking in the title of Senator.” To suggest that is ridiculous and fundamentally misunderstands the power of the position.

And as of this writing, Mr. Moloney is probably not the right candidate for the 13th District. His job is not to represent the coal companies but rather to represent the people of the 13th District. The Senate is full of people who already represent the former and the empty seat is meant to represent the latter.

Is Mr. Moloney confused? Are his priorities in the wrong place? It seems they might be.

With the two candidates now much, much closer — if not totally equal — on LGBT issues, the only space between them is on Big Coal and Environment. And the question there is a simple one: Which side is Mr. Moloney on?

Unfortunately, we are “not familiar enough” with Mr. Moloney to know for sure.

UPDATE: Mr. Moloney has sent the following statement clarifying his positions on Big Coal:

Kentucky has some of the most unique and beautiful landscapes and water ways in the world and I will be a state senator who fights to protect them.  I oppose Mountain Top Removal (MTR) and believe coal should be mined in an environmentally safe method that protects our streams and head waters. However, I do believe coal is and should be an integral part of a comprehensive energy policy and will not support an energy policy that excludes coal.

While I detest mining methods like MTR and surface mining that fills our mountain hollows and buries our streams, we cannot turn our back on coal and the thousands of jobs across our Commonwealth that are dependent on coal.  While environmental lawsuits are appropriate when companies mine coal in a manner and a method that is in violation of our environmental laws and regulations, we must also understand that we have – in addition to the jobs directly and indirectly tied to coal throughout the coal fields – we have steel mills, coke/carbon plants and aluminum smelters scattered in communities across Kentucky that use Kentucky coal in their manufacturing process.  These companies/manufacturers located to Kentucky in-part because of low energy costs (coal) and/or easy access to coal.  Not only do the workers at these factories rely on these jobs, but many of the local businesses and their employees in these small communities rely directly or indirectly on these manufacturers that are reliant on coal.  It is not as simple as saying that we must stop coal production.  Rather, we need to balance the economic realities with the environmental consequences and strive to develop safer, more environmentally sound methods of coal extraction.  I believe that the economy of Appalachia can be transformed from a reliance on coal to a more diverse, cleaner economy. I look forward to the day when Kentucky’s coal fields are filled with new companies offering good salaries because of the majesty and beauty of  its mountains and waterways, providing young professionals with endless opportunities to enjoy the outdoor / active lifestyle and attracting adventure tourists. I will be a state senator who works to realize that vision for not only the coal fields, but for Kentucky.

 

So what do y’all think of that?

Endorsements, Fairness and Ideology in the 13th District Special Election

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December 5, 2013
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***UPDATE, 12.6.13: The Fighting 13th — Thomas Moves Left on LGBT Issues; Is Moloney the Big Coal Candidate?***

***UPDATE, 12.7.13: Is Karl Rove’s Moneyman Trying to Buy Kathy Stein’s Seat?***

 

Time Is Winding Up by Clara Ward on Grooveshark

Welp… time is winding up in the 13th District Special Election. Come Tuesday, we’ll have a new Senator.

And as time runs out, the endorsements are piling up!

Most powerfully, Big Mike Johnson picked up the very powerful endorsement of United States Senator Rand Paul — revered and respected by every single voter of the incredibly liberal Fighting 13th District. Rand’s SuperPAC gave Big Mike some money so between that and the endorsement, it almost seems like this whole race is over and the two Democrats in the race, Richard Moloney and Reggie Thomas, should pack up their yard signs and call the whole thing off.

Here’s Rand’s Big Mike endorsement:

Senator Paul cut and pasted wrote:

Michael Johnson is a candidate in the Dec. 10 special election to fill the 13th District Kentucky State Senate seat in Lexington. I love Big Mike’s enthusiasm and passion. When he speaks, he speaks from the heart and he tells it like it is. I couldn’t be more proud to support Big Mike — I’ve given him a donation from my PAC — and I hope you will join me in backing his campaign. Visit bigmikeforsenate.com and don’t forget to vote on Dec. 10.

If the Rand Paul endorsement is not the deciding factor in your vote, you might be interested in some of the other endorsements.

The Lexington Herald-Leader has endorsed Richard Moloney. Their argument is well… here:

Moloney gets our endorsement based on his long experience in government, both state and local. He represented a city council district for 14 years that is largely included in this Senate district, most recently served as chief administrative officer and later as environmental quality and public works commissioner in the administration of Mayor Jim Gray, and before that as commissioner of housing in Gov. Steve Beshear’s administration.

They acknowledge the two candidates are fairly similar on all the issues but give Moloney the edge because his “skills at the often-tedious details of making government actually work for people would be a strong asset in a Republican-led Senate.”

The Herald endorsement is pretty big and the fact the Hairy Liberal’s editorial board chose to buck the state’s mostly Democratic Party could encourage some stalwart Democratic voters to pull that “I” lever rather than the “D” one, just this once.

Meanwhile, the Fairness Campaign has endorsed Reggie Thomas. The Fairness Campaign does great work in the state fighting for equal rights for LGBT citizens and liberty and justice for all. Here’s what they say in the press release:

“It became clear during C-FAIR’s candidate interview process that Mr. Thomas is the obvious choice to succeed long-time LGBT Fairness advocate Kathy Stein in the Kentucky Senate,” shared C-FAIR chair Eric Graninger. “With his broad base of support and track record of accomplishments in the district, Mr. Thomas is the candidate best equipped to champion issues important to LGBT and allied Kentuckians in the difficult senate climate and to fight against egregious discriminatory legislation, like Kentucky’s so-called ‘Religious Freedom Act.’”

If you’ve been reading these pages over the past week, you know this might conflict with what we’ve learned. If you look at how Thomas and Moloney answered questions regarding the Fairness Law and Gay Marriage on both the B&P questionnaire and on the Kentuckians for the Commonwealth questionnaire, it seemed clear that Moloney had the edge on this issue.

Here are their answers side-by-side…

KENTUCKIANS FOR THE COMMONWEALTH

What is your position on the establishment of a statewide Fairness law that would protect people from discrimination in housing, employment, and public accommodations based on perceived sexual orientation and gender identity?

Reggie Thomas [LINK]:

I will give my unqualified support to a statewide Fairness Law that protects people from discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation. Everyone deserves to live in a just society with equal access to rights and opportunities.

Richard Moloney [LINK]:

As a council member, I was proud to support and vote for Lexington’s Fairness ordinance – the first in Kentucky history.  As state senator, I will support and vote for a statewide Fairness Law that not only protects every person from discriminatory practices in housing and employment, but also confers to them the same legal rights and tax policies that every other individual or married couple receives – including hospital visitation, pension benefits, adoption, estate planning, etc.

Seems pretty much the same, right?

But if you look at the B&P question, there is some space between the two candidates. Specifically, on the B&P questionairre, Moloney went a step further than Thomas (and a step further than he did with KFTC), writing that not only would he support a Fairness Law, he would actually introduce the law. That suggests to us a willingness to not simply go with the flow but to proactively direct that flow. (WWKSD?)

Furthermore, the B&P question, unlike the KFTC one asked specifically about the candidate’s stance on the ban on Gay Marriage. Reggie Thomas dodged that question and answered only about the Fairness ordinance. Moloney on the other hand made clear statements of his stance regarding gay marriage, calling it unconstitutional.

WILL YOU WORK TO OVERTURN THE MARRIAGE BAN? WILL YOU PUSH A STATEWIDE FAIRNESS ORDINANCE? (LINK)

REGGIE THOMAS:

I will give my unqualified support to a statewide Fairness Law that protects people from discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation. Everyone deserves to live in a just society with equal access to rights and opportunities.

RICHARD MOLONEY:

Earlier, I said I am the only progressive candidate in this race with a record to back it up. The issue of Fairness is one of the clearest examples of what I am talking about. Other candidates may claim that they are for Fairness, but I am the only candidate who has the voting record to back it up. As a Democrat elected to Lexington City Council from the 11th District, I proudly supported and voted for Lexington’s Fairness Ordinance – the first in Kentucky history. If elected to the senate, I will introduce a Kentucky Fairness Law that protects the rights of ALL people, including their legal rights and any tax benefits to which any other person or married couple in our Commonwealth is entitled. I voted against the constitutional amendment to ban same sex marriages and I believe it is unconstitutional, particularly in light of the recent Supreme Court ruling on DOMA and subsequent rulings striking down similar provisions in other states.

That seems to make Moloney the clear winner on this issue (Thomas wins other ones, which is why we’re not endorsing either way).

The Fairness Campaign does amazing work so I was curious about their reasons for endorsing Thomas when the evidence I’ve seen would suggest Moloney is their candidate. So I got in touch with the Fairness folks to better understand their endorsement — and to see if there was anything we were missing on Thomas’ stance on LGBT issues (otherwise known as “equal rights for every American”).

They felt that the two candidates were indeed quite similar on the issues. They answered in the same basic way on the Fairness Campaign’s questionnaire. That document is a basic Yes/No list of questions and while they don’t make it public, Thomas did join Moloney in indicating in the affirmative on the question of whether two loving adults should be able to marry each other — despite the fact he chose not to address the question when it was posed to him here.

After the Q&A session, the Fairness folks had both Thomas and Moloney in for an interview. And what ultimately seems to have tipped the issue for them is the question of ideology. Moloney is posing his campaign as the spurned independent voice. Clearly he is a Democrat and clearly he wanted the Democratic nomination. Once he decided that the Party bosses had pre-selected a candidate (Thomas), Moloney became an independent and is now trying to incorporate that into his narrative. The Fairness folks found this to be somewhat disingenuous and they feel that Thomas, acting as the Democratic Party nominee, is more likely to contribute to the viability of the Party in the state Senate. In addition to that, Thomas increases the racial diversity in the State Senate and that’s an important factor that should not be overlooked.

Where that leaves the issue of Thomas or Moloney is questionable. The Fairness folks have good reasons for endorsing Thomas, just as the Herald Leader makes a compelling case for endorsing Moloney. I still think that on the issue of LGBT rights and equality for all, Moloney has the edge over Thomas.

But one of the (many) reasons there’s no particular endorsement coming on this end is that Moloney’s narrative, about his ideological independence, is indeed strange. He answered it at length in Part 3 of our Q&A, and you can go back and read it closely if you like.

From what I see and hear, Moloney’s argument about the Kentucky Democratic Party stifling the process of selecting a nominee to run in the Special Election is resonating with a lot of voters. The Party has only itself to blame for this. The KDP track record for pushing candidates who tread lightly on important issues because they’re looking at a poll or listening to a hackneyed political consultant is undeniable… and it’s tiresome.

Part of the greatness of Kathy Stein is that she did as she believed. She didn’t mince her words, she didn’t hide from a fight, in fact oftentimes she started that fight. And that’s what the Fighting 13th deserves.

Moloney shows signs of fight but when his argument that the KDP muscles out its active voices in favor of more passive ones turns that corner into one about his independence from either party, as if he’s Ross Perot or Lyndon Larouche, your eyes should roll. Moloney says he’s a progessive candidate but he is also trying to position himself as the candidate existing in some middle ground between two ineffectual parties and that’s not really the same thing.

But the problem with making your choice based on Moloney’s campaign narrative is that Reggie Thomas isn’t that much better… he should be a fighting liberal in a fighting liberal district and he should have embraced the wide open door Kathy Stein left him to be just that… instead, it seems like he’s listening to some Party People who want him to play it safe for no particular reason other than that’s their idea of change.

The ideological confusion is present on both campaigns. Choose wisely.

How Do You Solve a Problem Like the 13th District Special Election Choice? (UPDATE: Campaign Ad videos clarify everything)

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December 4, 2013
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***UPDATE, 12.6.13: The Fighting 13th — Thomas Moves Left on LGBT Issues; Is Moloney the Big Coal Candidate?***

***UPDATE, 12.7.13: Is Karl Rove’s Moneyman Trying to Buy Kathy Stein’s Seat?***

 

The Special Election to replace the irreplaceable Kathy Stein is mere days away — Tuesday, December 10th, 2013.

If you live in the 13th District, don’t forget to vote and don’t forget to tell your friends and neighbors to vote. And if you don’t live there but know someone who does, remind them to vote. Special Elections are a tricky thing because people aren’t paying attention and don’t know when or where it’s happening… blah blah blah. You know the drill.

So there are 3 candidates, a Democrat, a Democrat and a Democrat.

One Democrat — Michael Johnson — is now a Republican Tea Party member who advocates a return to the days of Malcolm X.

The other two Democrats… well, that’s harder to simplify.

In our questions to them, both Democrat Reggie Thomas and Democrat Richard Moloney answered in pretty similar ways.

In Part 1, Thomas and Moloney used the same basic language to describe the 13th — educated, diverse, progressive. And they both promised to uphold the legacy of Ms. Kathy Stein and the leftwingers who’d preceded her.

Thomas said:

I will honor the legacy of Kathy Stein and Ernesto Scorsone by being as forceful a voice for what’s right for the 13th District as they were.

And Moloney said:

I am the only candidate in this race who has publicly stated that if elected, “I will represent the people of the 13th District in keeping with my predecessors, Michael Moloney, Ernesto Scorsone and Kathy Stein.”

So that’s a draw.

In Part 2, we asked about informed consent, coal, gay marriage and tax reform — all big topics on which Kathy Stein was great and on which her successor should be as well.

On tax reform, both Thomas and Moloney used words about fairness and balance. Moloney called the current system ‘unfair’ and focused on “incentivizing business development and job growth.” Thomas focused on the Earned Income Tax Credit as a way to help low income Kentuckians and businesses.

On coal, both Thomas and Moloney tread lightly but Thomas clearly won this round. He talked about supporting legislation to protect the land from “the ill effects of surface mining” and jumped onto the new wave of coal talk that the fine Mr. Sonka recently wrote extensively about over at the LEO. Moloney, for his part, stated: “I will never turn my back on Kentucky coal,” which, frankly, has very little (if anything) to actually do with the issue. If you’re an Alison Grimes-style ‘friend of coal’-type, Moloney is likely your candidate; otherwise, it may be Mr. Thomas.

But when asked about a Fairness Law and gay marriage, the tables seem to flip. Thomas says he would “give my unqualified support to a statewide Fairness Law” but dodges any mention of the gay marriage issue. Moloney on the other hand hits both issues much harder:

Other candidates may claim that they are for Fairness, but I am the only candidate who has the voting record to back it up. As a Democrat elected to Lexington City Council from the 11th District, I proudly supported and voted for Lexington’s Fairness Ordinance – the first in Kentucky history. If elected to the senate, I will introduce a Kentucky Fairness Law that protects the rights of ALL people, including their legal rights and any tax benefits to which any other person or married couple in our Commonwealth is entitled. I voted against the constitutional amendment to ban same sex marriages and I believe it is unconstitutional, particularly in light of the recent Supreme Court ruling on DOMA and subsequent rulings striking down similar provisions in other states.

Moloney clearly wins on this issue. If you’re a liberal 13th District voter who’d prefer to not talk about gay marriage, Mr. Thomas is your choice, but otherwise, it’s likely Moloney.

On the question of informed consent laws, Moloney and Thomas are not only both opposed to such laws, they each took the question the extra step to affirm their unequivocal support for a woman’s right to choose, and they both stated they’d oppose any law of any kind that would infringe on that right. Great answers from both. A draw.

Asked about their top three issues, Thomas listed:

  • Education
  • Jobs
  • Additional revenue for state government

While Moloney listed:

  • The State Budget
  • Education
  • Expanding Economic Opportunity and Promoting Social Equality

In Part 3, we learned a little more about both candidates. Thomas wrote that while “on some economic issues I might be more of a moderate than a liberal” he shared the progressive values of the 13th District and reiterated his overall positions:

“I want to protect Kentucky’s natural resources. I am a strong supporter of unions and collective bargaining. And of course I support LGBT rights and minority rights.”

Moloney, on the other hand, was asked about the fact he is running as an Independent rather than as a Democrat. This is a point of some contention between the two campaigns and it flared up over the weekend when Moloney accused Thomas of putting out campaign material that says Moloney’s a Republican. Moloney is clearly a Democrat. What he is not is the Democratic Party nominee — that would be Thomas.

When the special election was announced, the Democratic Party met to select a candidate. I spoke with the Fayette County Democrats prior to their meeting to select that candidate and was told that, at that time, only two Democrats had submitted their names for consideration, one of them was Reggie Thomas. Two other people had previously submitted their names but then withdrawn them from consideration, one of them was Richard Moloney.

Moloney says he wanted to run as the Democratic Party nominee but after submitting his name to the Party and talking to party officials, he came to believe the Party had already made up its mind and was not seriously considering any candidate other than Mr. Thomas.

At that point, Moloney withdrew his name and changed his party affiliation to “Independent.” And that’s how he’s running in the “Special Election.” Moloney writes:

I have dedicated my like to public service and advocating for progressive values like community affordable housing, expanding economic opportunity for all our citizens, downtown revitalization, green space preservation, equal pay for women, quality affordable health care and Kentucky’s first FAIRNESS ordinance. I assure you and your readers that I will be the same progressive leader and advocate for our community with an ‘I’ beside my name as I would be with a ‘D’ beside my name.

 

In the end, as a voter you will have three choices. Mr. Johnson, the Malcolm X advocating Tea Party Republican, is a wonderful addition to the state’s Republican Party and they are right to try and usher him into public office — but perhaps he’s better suited to another district and if you look at it right, you just might find he would be an ideal replacement for, say, Damon Thayer.

Choosing between the other two — Reggie Thomas or Richard Moloney — well, that’s more difficult. Both are business friendly, one more Big Coal friendly than the other, and the other more LGBT friendly than the first, both strong pro choice advocates, and both promising to maintain the progressive tradition of the seat they seek to win.

One thing that’s perfectly clear? Neither of them is even close to the realm in which Kathy Stein exists. That’s unfortunate because the district deserves someone that good. But we’ve also been spoiled, so we have Thomas and Moloney before us and from here they seem like equally fine choices.

A surprising number of local Democrats have suggested to me that despite the party affiliation question, Richard Moloney is the man for this job.

Meanwhile, it is obvious that Reggie Thomas has the brunt of the Party’s support both locally and around the state — indeed, he’s got Steve “Get Off My Back” Beshear’s support and his campaign is being run by Beshear’s own campaign manager Jim Cauley — who you might remember as being one of the fiercest voices shoving Ashley Judd off the side of the Party ship and blasting her in every conceivable media outlet around the country while she considered a run for Senate.

Moloney, who’s got Joe B. Hall and an assortment of local leaders in his corner, has done a surprisingly good job of fundraising (including a big check from big coal), but still trails Reggie Thomas significantly [see here]. Despite his money lead or in explanation of it, Reggie Thomas “decried the emphasis on money in modern campaigns [and] pointed to the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision that gutted federal campaign finance reform laws” at one of the recent candidate forums [see here] — and they’re both now spending that money on TV ads which undoubtedly will help you understand this whole mess better [see here].

In the end, B&P has no endorsement in this race (other than endorsing the Republican Party’s strategy to continually nominate stellar Tea Party candidates).

The difference between Moloney and Thomas seems to be a fine line and either choice is a fine one. (Fine, like, “okay, sure, I guess.”) Some people will only vote for the explicit Democratic Party Nominee and that’s just how they are — but if you’re trying to base your vote on an understanding of where each man stands and you’re willing to momentarily ignore that letter for the sake of clarity and truthfulness, it’s hard to truly tell much difference.

(As Merlene Davis reports, they are both also in favor of restoring felon voting rights and are both in favor of putting gambling on the ballot).

The turnout for a Special Election is hard to predict, and while it seems likely Thomas would ride the donkey to Frankfort, I suppose nothing is certain and the choice is Yours.

So… who will you vote for?

Voting comes Tuesday. Have fun.

*It’s worth noting, perhaps, that the way the Fayette Dems chose to select a candidate for the special election to succeed Kathy Stein in the State Senate was wildly different from the way they chose a candidate for the special election to succeed Kathy Stein in the State House. In that one they held a big open process and in this one it was considerably more shut off. Perhaps they should revisit how they do this so that in the future, it won’t even be an issue. As it is now, there are some in powerful Democratic Party positions who are complaining that a person who’s complaining about their process is running… which obviously could have been avoided had their process followed the same –though perhaps more chaotic — process as it had the last time around… but when it comes to the operatives and strategists of the Kentucky Democratic Party, it’s often hard to talk about what makes sense.

UPDATE:

Here are the competing ads:

The Immovable 13th’s Special Election: Meet the Candidates! (Part 3: A Personal Question!)

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November 27, 2013
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SEE PART 1: The Immovable 13th’s Special Election: Meet the Candidates! (Part 1) –In which the three candidates define the 13th District in their own words, explain why they’re best for the job and what, if anything, the Kathy Stein legacy means to them.

SEE PART 2: The Immovable 13th’s Special Election: Meet the Candidates! (Part 2: The Issues!) –In which Thomas and Moloney battle for control of the progressive mantle on Gay Marriage, Informed Consent, Big Coal and Taxes while Johnson leaves us to troll his campaign facebook page.

***

The 13th State Senate District Special Election will take place Tuesday, December 10th, 2013.

There are TWO candidate forums:

  1. Monday, December 2nd @ 7PM: Sponsored by the League of Women Voters, at the Woodland Christian Church, 530 East High Street, across from Woodland Park.
  2. Sunday, December 1st @ 3:30PM: Sponsored by Operation Turnout, at the Greater Liberty Baptist Church, 330 Chestnut St. [See the most wonderful Ms. Davis for more on that.]

The winner of the Special Election will replace the irreplaceable Ms. Kathy Stein, Our Lady of Perpetual Awesomeness. There are 3 candidates in this Special Election. They are:

  • Michael JOHNSON, Republican
  • Richard MOLONEY, Independent
  • Reggie THOMAS, Democrat

One, Mr. Johnson, is a Tea Party Republican who until recently was a Democrat. Another, Mr. Thomas, is the Democratic Party nominee. And the third, Mr. Moloney, is a lifelong Democrat who says he switched to Independent to run in this race because he felt the Party bosses had pre-selected their candidate and elbowed out room for others (see below).

In the first two installments, we met the candidates, heard their take on the 13th District and why they’re running, learned about where they stand on some of the big issues and generally got chummy with them. All three candidates initially agreed to respond to these questions but one of them later stopped replying to messages and never submitted an official response but didn’t leave us empty-handed.

So let’s get to it!

***

B&P QUESTION: Mr. Moloney — You left the Democratic Party and registered as an independent. You say you want to move past the ‘partisanship’ in Frankfort. What does that mean, and why would a district that’s sent two of the most liberal people to the State Senate in recent memory be interested in someone who wants to play nice with the Republican Party? And why won’t you say which party you will caucus with?

RICHARD MOLONEY: Let me begin by saying that I didn’t “leave” the Democratic Party. I have been a registered Democrat for the past 35 years. I was elected as a registered Democrat to Lexington’s City Council SEVEN times. It is also noteworthy to point out that all three candidates in this race were DEMOCRATS up until six weeks ago. For all intents and purposes … this special election is really a Democratic Primary and voters should elect the candidate who best represents their views and their values.

According to the Lexington Herald-Leader, a small group of five Democratic Party insiders handpicked the nominee. After learning that they had met privately prior to the public meeting to decide that they would nominate a candidate new to the district with no elected political experience; and that there would be no vetting of candidates and no meaningful opportunity to present my qualifications or political platform, I was compelled to change my party registration to Independent if I wanted to serve in the state senate. While my party registration may have changed, my progressive, Democratic values never will.

Your question as to why would a “district that has sent two of the most liberal people to the state senate be interested in someone like me who wants to play nice with the Republican Party?,” seems to confuse my willingness to “move past the partisanship” in Frankfort and work with my senate colleagues to get things done for the people of the 13th District, as a willingness to sacrifice my values or principles. Nothing could be further from the truth.

I have dedicated my like to public service and advocating for progressive values like community affordable housing, expanding economic opportunity for all our citizens, downtown revitalization, green space preservation, equal pay for women, quality affordable health care and Kentucky’s first FAIRNESS ordinance. I assure you and your readers that I will be the same progressive leader and advocate for our community with an ‘I’ beside my name as I would be with a ‘D’ beside my name. The question seems to imply that this race is about the two parties – either Democratic or Republican. I happen to believe this race is not about the Democratic or Republican parties, but rather about the people of this district. It is not about labels. It is about US, about our future, our families and our community.

As a former city council member, though we had our respective individual party affiliations, we were elected as “non-partisans.” It has been my experience on the Council that when we put labels aside and focus on the issues, we were able to pass many progressive initiatives that I believe have improved our community and helped provide a better quality of life for our citizens. We passed landmark, progressive initiatives by working together. That is the spirit that I will carry to the state senate.

With respect to your question, with which party will I caucus?, I am not going to caucus with either party. I am going to remain Independent during this upcoming regular session and work with my colleagues on both sides of the political aisle on issues that we share in common. Should I find that one caucus refuses to work with me or does not share any common ground on issues important to the people of the 13th District, then clearly, I would caucus with those with whom share my views and values. I believe that as an Independent, my voice will not simply be heard or dismissed as those of a liberal, but rather heard and considered as a progressive Independent leader who is willing to look beyond partisan political labels if it is in the best interests of the district, community and Commonwealth.

 

***

B&P QUESTION: Mr. Johnson — You recently left the Democratic Party but say it was a long time coming. On your Facebook page you celebrate your Tea Party values and acknowledge that some may find an African American who identifies with the Tea Party to be odd. What does the Tea Party mean to you — and how will Tea Party values serve the diversity of the 13th District?

As with every other question, Mr. Johnson did not respond. Here’s an exchange he had with a voter on facebook:

Hello Mr Johnson – as the election is just a few weeks away, how do the people of District 13 get more information about you and where you stand on issues such as the Constitution, the illegal Obamacare, the illegal aliens infiltrating KY because of the Beshear, waste, fraud, and abuse of tax payer monies, your plan to cut out all non-necessary spending, your stand on abortion, your stand on leeching of the welfare system? Your stands on all of these need to be completely conservative without apology and without waiver — yet I see no written information on what you will do for the Commonwealth? I tried your FB link, but apparently I have to commit to supporting you publically before I find out what your beliefs and values are? Which is too much like obamaSCAM — please make public a website where we can go to review what you will and will not support for KY. Thank you.

 

Big Mike responds with his web address, then says “amen,” and then:

Michael Johnson for State Senate District 13

Annette everything you have mention is the reason I am running and I was just endorsed by Kentucky Right to Life. Believe me I am very Conservative.
Reply · Sunday at 6:09am

To further clear up any confusion, let’s revisit this photo Big Mike shared on his official campaign facebook page just a few days ago in which Mr. Johnson appears to advocate a return to the times of Malcolm X (that’s the second picture, top row).

We can’t know for sure since after his initial response Big Mike did not respond to further inquiries, but it is hard not to imagine that this photograph is a liberal dog whistle. Clearly Big Mike is hoping his Republican constituents do not realize that they’ve nominated a fan of Mr. X. At the same time, it seems clear Big Mike is hoping the good liberals and progressives of the 13th see this Malcolm X love and follow that sound right into the voting booth — Big Mike Johnson is the only candidate in this race using Malcolm X in his campaign material and if there’s any district in Kentucky where that might work, it’s the Immoveable Fighting 13th.

One thing we don’t understand about the picture Big Mike posted… is the picture.

Another thing we don’t understand about the picture is why it would include Malcolm X but edit out the other half of the original photo:

And the third thing we don’t understand about this picture is how in the heck city councilmember Chuck Ellinger lost the GOP nomination to Big Mike Johnson. It was a close vote, so close it had to be voted a couple times, and Ellinger lost. Is Chuck’s political career facing the same fate?

***

B&P QUESTION: Mr. Thomas — You’re a lifelong Democrat and the Democratic Party’s nominee in a heavily Democratic district. Ms. Stein was one of the most unabashedly liberal lawmakers in the State Senate. Mr. Scorsone, who held the seat before her, was also a liberal fighter. Are you a liberal? A progressive?

REGGIE THOMAS: I am a Democrat because I believe in fighting for the common man and that as a community, we have a responsibility to help each other. I believe the role of government is to protect people who otherwise would not have a voice and to act as a counterbalance to entities with access to power and influence. I have been a consistent supporter of the Party, its candidates, and its causes since I registered to vote on my 18th birthday.

I have also been involved in the Lexington community for over 35 years. I have been an active volunteer in organizations that promote education, social justice, the arts, community empowerment, and job development.

I share the progressive values of the voters of the 13th District because I surely don’t want to return to the days of past discrimination and injustice. I am interested in encouraging the use of renewable forms of energy, especially to reduce the carbon footprints of Kentucky’s largest cities. I want to protect Kentucky’s natural resources. I am a strong supporter of unions and collective bargaining. And of course I support LGBT rights and minority rights. On some economic issues I might be more of a moderate than a liberal. However, I believe we need to reform Kentucky’s tax code to instill more fairness and balance and provide an earned income tax credit for low-wage workers. I will be a fighter for what is right for the 13th Senate District as well as for the Commonwealth.

 

That’s it for now! Enjoy your Thanksgiving. Eat a turkey — but don’t vote for one!

 

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