, Corbin, KY


April 28, 2014

Never bored on the political beat

CORBIN — By Ronnie Ellis / CNHI News Service

My job is never boring.

Well, maybe that’s not entirely accurate. There are those never-ending nights toward the end of a legislative session. Or the early days of the session when hours are spent each day introducing pages, guests and resolutions.  

There are several lawmakers who simply can’t stop themselves from making long-winded speeches any more than their listeners can stop themselves from falling asleep. My job does require me to listen to the same political speech in Somerset that I heard last week in Glasgow which I previously listened to in Richmond after hearing it the first time at Fancy Farm.

Uh, but you know, other than that . . . I’m never bored.

There was nothing boring about Thursday. Crit Luallen announced she won’t run for governor. It’s difficult to think of anyone who has more hands-on experience and training to be governor. She’s worked for six governors in a variety of capacities; she’s highly respected by members of both parties and she has a well-earned reputation for integrity.

She is also the rare politician who has both a genuine desire to serve and the understanding and skill to manage a budget responsibly while prioritizing spending. Most lawmakers either sympathize with the need for government action but don’t know how to pay for it or in the converse are determined to balance the budget without raising taxes no matter the human cost. Luallen knows how to balance both perspectives.

Critics say she doesn’t have the stomach for a rough-and-tumble campaign or she can’t raise the money. Supporters see the importance Luallen places on her family and personal lives. It’s a shame that the very qualities we say we admire are the ones which make it difficult to go into public service.

There was a story by Edmund Shelby in the Beattyville Enterprise quoting Sen. Mitch McConnell saying job creation in Kentucky is not his job. McConnell is more or less technically correct and he no doubt thinks he formed his answers to Shelby’s questions clumsily.

McConnell is in a tough re-election fight, an arena in which he has earned a reputation of near invincibility. But McConnell seems hemmed in during this campaign. The obvious constraints are the competing requirements of his job as Minority Leader and what he needs to do fend off a primary challenge from Matt Bevin. He’s also fighting a two-front battle, trying to win a primary while preparing to battle Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes in the fall.

He also suffers from his own success. Reporters aren’t accustomed to seeing McConnell make mistakes. The comparison they make isn’t to other candidates but to his past performances and reputation. For whatever reason, he seems to be falling short of that standard.

Finally came John Boel’s report on Louisville’s WAVE-TV that Bevin is, at best, being disingenuous about a cockfighting rally he attended.  When it was first reported Bevin spoke to the group, he insisted he didn’t realize it was a cockfighting rally.

Boel was there with an undercover camera and captured Bevin telling someone in the audience he wouldn’t oppose a law to make the “sport” legal. Confronted by Boel, Bevin does what he usually does – he danced and dissembled.

It won’t matter to a lot of Bevin supporters because they’re not voting so much for him as they want to vote against McConnell. But for others who might be thinking of voting for Bevin, it raises the possibility of the ultimate, unforgiveable political sin: hypocrisy.

May 20 is just over three weeks away. November 4 is months away. I’m not worried I’ll be bored.

Ronnie Ellis writes for CNHI News Service and is based in Frankfort. Reach him at Follow CNHI News Service stories on Twitter at

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