Saturday, May 17, 2008

Kentucky Primary Will Determine Future of State Party

On Thursday, four former Kentucky governors endorsed Senator Hillary Clinton in Tuesday's presidential primary.

There are, however, six living former Democratic governors in Kentucky, and one of the two who have not endorsed Clinton is Martha Layne Collins, Kentucky's only female governor. The other is Brereton Jones, who is the one of the six who is closest to current governor Steve Beshear.

None of which matters to the presidential primary, but all of which matters a great deal to the outcome of the current battle for the Kentucky Democratic Party.

Stephen Shepard started off the speculation on BlueGrassRoots with a plea for Beshear and Kentucky's other super delegates to unite the party by endorsing Barack Obama.

Obama represents the future: a new kind of post-partisan politics that could be revolutionary for Kentucky. After yet another gridlocked legislative session, this is exactly the kind of change in tone that Kentucky must emulate.


If Beshear wishes to lead Kentucky to a progressive future, then he must take a stand and stop this inward firing squad, uniting our Democratic party under a common banner. Let our Kentucky motto become our rallying cry: United We Stand, Divided We Fall.

Media Czech at Barefoot and Progressive called on Beshear to use an Obama endorsement to break away from the Jerry Lundergan-led Loser Faction of the state democratic party.

Whereas the Lundergan-Governors John Y. Brown and Paul Patton are falling in line between the eventual-loser Hillary Clinton, there is a great opportunity for Steve Beshear to step away from the old guard of Lundercrooks and take a step towards the future of the Democratic Party: Barack Obama.

Many have credited the failure of the current legislative session to Beshear surrounding himself with the old guard Democrats. Wouldn't it send a great message if he turned his back on this crowd and joined the new vanguard of Democrats along with John Yarmuth, Ben Chandler and Dan Mongiardo?

How about it Steve? Would you like to join and score big points with the new wave of Democrats all over this state that reject the Lundergan-era Good ole' boys?

And Ben Ray of What's Required Kentucky clarifies what's at stake.

There are two groups of democrats in Kentucky, and they’re silently doing nothing less than fighting over the soul of the Kentucky Democratic Party–on one hand, you have Lundergan and his old guard, ready to run conservative Democrats all over the state again, and let the RPK resume running us into the ground. The Democrats that depend on party machinery. The Democrats that, when called on to turn out for their presidential candidate, couldn’t muster 1,000 people on a Friday night.

Then there’s the younger generation. The Democrats still seeking a voice in the party. The Democrats that will proudly run on a progressive platform, because they know that even if the voters disagree with them, the respect they earn can win votes in a hostile district. The Democrats that are mastering organizing themselves outside of the party patronage machine, because the machine won’t stand up for what they believe in. The Democrats that, when they knew their candidate was coming to town, showed up on a Monday afternoon in numbers so overwhelming that they had to be turned away by the thousands.

There are more of the first type of Democrats. But they’ve already lost their battle– Hillary Clinton will not, despite the political firepower on her Kentucky Steering Committee, win the nomination. She may lose it right here in the Bluegrass. And so, our uncommitted superdelegates have a choice: they can back a losing candidate, and show that they’re still in the shadow of the party of old, still taking orders from Jerry Lundergan despite his no longer holding the chair, and deal a dangerous blow to the active base of the party…or…they can step out of the shadow. They can complete the break from the horror of machine politics. They can lead the party.

This is, ultimately, what superdelegates are for– when the people are making a bad decision, they can step out from the crowd and make clear that they believe in something different. Something better. To let the vote determine your actions as a superdelegate, as a leader of your party, is not only a cop-out, it’s intellectually lazy. Governor Beshear, Mrs. Moore, Mr. Smith, you have a duty to the KDP to lead us, not merely go along with with the popular opinion because it’s the safe and expedient thing to do. You know what you have to do.

Since Wednesday, there has been a huge CNN truck parked in front of the Kentucky capitol. We hear the CNN folks were not pleased to discover that the Governor is on vacation this week and won't be available for interviews until Monday.

So they've been interviewing everybody they can find with something to say about Senator Clinton's likely plans after winning Kentucky on Tuesday, even though nobody really knows anything.

Cross-posted at Blue in the Bluegrass.