When Mitch McConnell becomes the next majority leader of the United States Senate he will have achieved a life long dream. Not only will he deserve the job, but he should enjoy the credit for having created the majority that will elect him.
Mitch McConnell is a master of the political process. It was he who made the 2014 mid-term elections a referendum on Barack Obama which ended up being the force beneath the ground swell of discontented voters who swept republicans into office in greater numbers than anytime since the reign of FDR converted so many to the democratic party where they have remained ever since.
Not only did Mitch substantially outperform the polls which nearly all predicted that a win in Kentucky, by either candidate, would be within the margin of error. Not only did he exhibit great poise and leadership in his acceptance speech in contrast to what even liberal pundits are saying about how ungracious his opponent was in defeat. But Mitch McConnell helped orchestrate the national conversation we all have been having for the last few years which conversation became the sentiment which was then mobilized into the movement that has now demanded that someone turn the direction we are heading around. And as reward for all of those things Mitch McConnell won not only his race, but an incredible, historic obligation.
It is he who told America that there is a better way forward than the path our current president and his troops in the Senate and the House have been marching us down. It is he, McConnell, who has promised to repeal Obamacare "root and branch". It is he who has promised to get the Congress working again, to bring matters to a vote, to pass a budget and to improve the prosperity of our country. These are huge tasks, and they are now his burden.
I once had the chance to meet Karl Rove when I was a candidate for office and asked his advice. He actually grabbed me by my necktie, pulled me close and gave me his wise insight. He looked me right in the eye and said, "remember, if you win this, you asked for it." McConnell has really asked for it.
Not only will he have the burden of a victor on his shoulders as well as the burden of defining his own legacy on his mind, but the architect of the republican party in Kentucky will have the fate of the republican party of America in his hands.
It was McConnell who motivated and moved the electorate by his carefully planned campaign talking points which were repeated with great discipline by the candidates that he, the NRSC, and other influential republicans all working together helped to put into place by winning primaries for those candidates who they deemed could eventually and did win November.
To accomplish this these so-called mainstream republicans had to go out and defeat the kind of fringe candidates that had been buoyed through primaries by the seething discontent of many republicans who had left the fold, formed splinter groups and ran as much against the GOP as they said they would against the democrats. That hadn't worked out so well and so the adults in the room had to bring order back to the process. They did, and they won.
But that doesn't mean McConnell will get the unanimous support of every one of his republican members. Grandstanders like Ted Cruz and presidential hopefuls like Rand Paul will certainly take shots at their own party and its leaders in order to get the kind of attention they crave and to appeal to those fragile parts of their own coalitions they perceive to be necessary to their own political survival.
And Mitch will have to weather the criticism of many others elected under the GOP banner who came to Congress just to be troublemakers and who will not be able to control their rhetoric because it has become indistiguishable from their identity.
But perhaps the greater battle Mitch has won is the obligation to direct the battle to save the republican party. While Rand Paul goes about trying to build a new kind of GOP in much the same patchwork quilt manner that the democrats have done for years, Mitch can look out over the groundswell of support given to his candidates and see that a much more congruent mindset joins the republicans and democrats and independents alike who joined their votes to give the GOP the victory they achieved.
While many would be right to say that the outcome was a repudiation of Barack Obama and his agenda, it was also at the same time, and by virtue of that repudiation, a collective agreement that if the republicans say they really can turn the country around, now is their chance to put up, or shut up.
As crass as it is when LBJ pushed so hard to create his "great society" he admitted that he had a political motivation behind him when he stated "
What is really at stake for McConnell is nothing less than the future of and the relevance of the republican party. Unless he and his fellow republicans deliver what the voters want, he may end us casting the GOP into the dark abyss for a century or more to come.
And those who know this is what is at stake and who want him to fail in that quest will bring incredible forces and resources to the battlefield in order to prevent him from succeeding.
Gridlock is not dead, it will be like the undead, nearly impossible to kill, raging out of control, incorrigible on all levels, defiant to a fault, relentless and vicious. For McConnell to save the nation and the GOP he will face a battle on a scale not unlike a world war. And I do not use that comparison lightly.
As in all prior wars where the American people rallied in support it was in defense of liberty, human rights, freedom and western prosperity that was threatened by socialist movements, dictators and those that opposed our way of life. That's just how the voters on Tuesday see the world today and McConnell has been elevated to be our supreme commander in that war.
He and the republicans must succeed and success will not be measured in small accomplishments. The mindset of McConnell's generation does not resonate today. The notion of working hard, saving a little, and watching progress come to your own life a little at a time isn't shared by many any more.
America today is filled with the "me generation", people convinced that they are the center of the universe, who refuse to accept that they can't have everything they want just for the asking, who through an ignorance taught to them for generations deeply believe that anything they want is a "right".
If McConnell believes that he can re-train America to accept incremental progress after six years of perceived decline he may lose his grip on the tiller before the ship of state crashes. He must make big moves, bold moves and each and every one must succeed.
He should sponsor legislation immediately to create jobs in America while at the same time reducing corporate taxation, ending our dependence on foreign manufacturing as a national security measure and get America working again. How?
Pass legislation giving not just a tax deduction, but a dollar for dollar tax credit for wages paid in America to companies that bring manufacturing jobs back from overseas. Tie this commitment to a three year term of guaranteed American employment.
Sure, our treasury would suffer the loss of corporate taxes, but the taxes on the incomes of workers would help to offset that. In addition, those wages being paid to American workers will be spent in America boosting the economy, resulting in a better standard of living for every one. As money circulates in America it too produces revenues to offset the corporate tax credits.
As manufacturing in America increases investment in buildings, equipment, housing and all sectors will improve.
On a political level this appeals to the corporate players, the out of work Americans, the housing, banking, manufacturing, tooling and other interests who are clamoring for bold initiatives. It could end up, after more careful analysis than some lowly blogger in Kentucky has given it, as nearly revenue neutral, but because it is founded on such a strong nationalistic and patriotic core it could marginalize opposition.
How about being even bigger and bolder and legislate away the IRS? Replace it with a fairer system eliminating the abusive power so many Americans perceive that this one private army of the government wields?
Big, bold moves include putting a bill to allow the Keystone XL pipeline on the president's desk but only AFTER other bold moves. The people know when special interests jump line and get ahead of their own and this has been the criticism of the GOP for a long, long time. Don't let that happen Senator.
Big bold moves include a total repeal of Obamacare being passed at the same time as a balanced budget.
These are the kinds of things people expect to see out of McConnell's party, now in power. And I predict they will accept nothing less.
Yes Mitch deserves great credit for what he has accomplished. But in exchange he has also now received a great commission. There is much riding on what he does.
And so Senator, as one who has backed you in all your races, let me at this moment while you are enjoying the after glow of your victory, remind you that you are standing on the threshold of an historic era. And as you go forward let me repeat for you what Karl Rove once said to me, "remember, you asked for it."
You hear it all the time from politicians known for hyperbole: "This is maybe the most important election of your lifetime." But there is one difference, this time they would be right.
UNITED STATES SENATE
Most Kentuckians know that Barack Obama has done terrible damage to our nation. And that majority knows that if he is not stopped from executing the rest of his agenda the damage may become irreversible.
Elections are about choices. And the ONLY choice in this race for those who want to stop Barack Obama is Mitch McConnell.
It is clear that Barack Obama wants to bankrupt the coal industry, flood our nation with illegal workers competing for jobs with out of work Americans, to destroy national pride in favor of an international apology, and to fundamentally transform our nation built on faith in God into a nation that looks to government for blessings.
Alison Lundergan Grimes recently told reporters in Northern Kentucky that her election will "make history". I can't believe she said that.
The Grimes campaign is a mirror image of Obama's: blame the predecessor, hide your true loyalties and get people to vote for making a dangerous change in direction by calling it "historic".
Here's the real history. Mitch McConnell has nearly always had close races. It would not be surprising if this one was as close as the polls suggest.
So forget the polls and consider the real question of historic proportions: will Kentucky make history by electing the next majority leader of the United States Senate or make the mistake of repeating the errors of 2008 and 2012 to the detriment of our Commonwealth and our nation by electing an inexperienced upstart?
We need to put a stop TO Obama in the Senate, not a vote FOR Obama in place of one that works.
Grimes campaign is grounded in the firm belief that voters are dumb. Dumb enough to let her get by without answering questions, dumb enough to not see that she is running the same kind of campaign Obama did, and dumb enough to expect different results.
McConnell is the only choice a chance for America has.
Michele Keller is currently filling the position left vacant by the passing of Wil Schroder. Keller was elected to the Court of Appeals eight years ago. Prior to that she was a relatively unknown lawyer.
As in many judicial elections in Kentucky people know very little about the opinions held by judicial candidates until they get elected. Then their opinions become law.
Efforts to change the law so voters can learn more about candidates before they acquire the power to rule over life and liberty continue to be met with great resistance, particularly by those already on the bench.
Perhaps the most damning piece of information in any judicial race I have seen in years came out not long ago about Michele Keller. It was her vote in favor of allowing a teenager from another state to travel out of state for an abortion without their parents ever knowing that has cut her campaign deeply.
Her opponent, Teresa Cunningham has gotten very little attention except from those who oppose Keller for her pro-choice opinion and her deep roots inside the democratic party operation in Campbell County.
Keller will likely win and her time on the Court of Appeals and Supreme court has been marked by mostly rather kind and well reasoned opinions, but for those who vote principle over personality, Cunningham will be their choice.
These are your options. I make no recommendation.
COURT OF APPEALS
When Governor Steve Beshear appointed Allison Jones to the Court of Appeals to fill the seat left vacant after Keller got appointed to the Supreme Court, everyone knew exactly why. Her husband was credited with raising tons of money for Beshear. In other words, quid pro quo.
Jones will likely lose to Justin Sanders in large part because Sanders is from Northern Kentucky where most of the votes will be cast. In addition Sanders has worked far harder on his campaign than Jones and has earned his votes.
But Sanders should win not because he worked hard but because he is clearly the better choice. He has experience in the courtroom, experience handling both criminal and civil cases and he has the most important experience of all, he represents people.
This race has come down to voting for quality versus voting for quid pro quo. I suggest you vote quality.
Sanders has the temperament, the knowledge and the compassion to make a great jurist and should receive your vote.
In Kentucky our court system is divided into various levels of decision making. Circuit court is the court of general jurisdiction. It is also the first level of appeal from the District Court. Within Circuit Courts there has been carved out the relatively new "Family Court" which combines some of the old functions of the District Courts regarding family issues and mixed them under a new umbrella. In Kenton County one Circuit Court seat is on the ballot, two Family Court seats are on the ballot and one District Court seat is contested.
For the Circuit Court the choice should be Kathy Lape. There are many reasons why her experience, her background and her commitment to family would make her the better choice, but there is a political reason as well.
For judges to be truly independent they should have as few loyalties to court house politics as possible. We lawyers have seen it far too many times in counties all across the Commonwealth. A judge's impartiality is questioned by his close relationship with the prosecutor, the county judge, the sheriff, the police department or some other powerful political force in the community. Few if any lawyers have the courage to speak out about such things, but the people we represent often express fear of them.
Distrust of the judiciary unravels the fabric of our nation of laws. Kathy Lape is truly independent. She is not part of the "courthouse crowd" and her service to the people of Kenton County will help restore trust in our judiciary. I urge you to give her your vote.
For family court there are a couple of races pitting the current incumbents against lawyer challengers. In both races the incumbents are doing a very good job and deserve to be re-elected.
Chris Mehling has had to run a harder race than necessary due to the last name of his opponent. The Knochelman who challenges him is not the guy who just won the County Judge Executive's seat. Clear out that confusion and you will be left with the clear choice, Chris Mehling for Family Court 2nd Division.
Incumbent Lisa Bushelman is being challenged for her seat in the 5th Division Family Court Race by Stephanie Dietz. Lisa is doing a very good job and there has not been a compelling reason made to replace her. Bushelman should get your vote.
In the only contested District Court race incumbent Ann Ruttle is being challenged by Chris Nordloh. Ann enjoys a solid reputation for making good calls in hard cases. Her challenger just wants the job. You should vote for Ruttle.
The single biggest race for Circuit Judge in Northern Kentucky is in Boone and Gallatin counties. The clear choice is Rick Brueggemann. Rick represents a break from lawyer driven politics on the bench, much like his predecessor Tony Frohlich has. Both are men of extremely high character, solid legal backgrounds and courageously hard workers.
In this race Brueggemann isn't just another lawyer turned judge. He is a true constitutionalist. We live in times when the law and the Constitution are being challenged not so much by cases but by lethargy on the bench.
Defense of the Constitution has cost millions of American lives. Rick Brueggemann will honor those sacrifices by his own courage, in his own time, as Circuit Court Judge.
Owen, Grant, Carroll Counties
Two lawyers, John Brent Threlkeld and Leslie Knight, are competing for the seat now held by retiring Circuit Court Judge Stepehen Bates. Developments in the last couple of weeks have made this a tough race.
Leslie Knight won handily in a mult-candidate primary and looked to be the favorite. But Threlkeld has out worked her by a large measure and has been helped by a recent scandal surrounding Knight.
Knight, it is being said, advocated for giving heroin addicts clean needles during a recent debate. Then her brother was recently charged with manufacturing methamphetamine.
This coupled with a lawsuit foreclosing on unpaid tax bills she has accumulated and another lawsuit in which the address she listed as her residence on her campaign filing papers is being challenged as false has tainted her suddenly in the waning days of the campaign.
Knight is presumably the choice of the "courthouse crowd" but that isn't as much a positive as it once was. These negative stories swirling around her and her campaign raise real questions about her trustworthiness. It would be helpful to voters to have them resolved before their votes are cast, but considering that they might not be resolved leaves much to be concerned with.
A hearing over her qualifications to serve in the seat will be held in front of Judge Bartlett in Kenton County this week. I will update with an endorsement after that hearing.
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