Issue January 11, 2006

Brother Fletcher lays it out

Gov. Ernie Fletcher’s State of the Commonwealth address Monday night left no question that he’s seeking to serve the Christian conservative and big business bases that are crucial to his 2007 re-election campaign. While advocating that public schools teach intelligent design (that life is too complex not to have been created by a higher power), the former lay Baptist minister said, “This is not a question about faith or religion; it’s about self-evident truth.”

In Kentucky politics, siding with creationists against evolutionists may be more of a benefit than a cost, while antagonizing organized labor amid a legislative election year is risky business. Fletcher’s plans to repeal the state’s prevailing wage law and to free workers from paying union dues as a condition of employment will create uncomfortable votes for some GOP lawmakers. Mentioning his initiative to make Kentucky a so-called right-to-work state elicited boos from the balcony of the House chamber. Labor issues threaten to be among the most divisive of the session.

Meanwhile, the race to fill the yearlong vacancy in the 37th senatorial district promises to be phenomenally frenetic. Democrat State Rep. Perry Clark voluntarily resigned his seat in the House to run against Deborah Peden, a retired teacher and wife of a Metro council member. Deborah Peden already appeals to women and educators — two constituencies mobilized by the 2004 contest between Dana Seum Stephenson and Virginia Woodward. Also in Peden’s favor is that Woodward and her supporters now feel betrayed that Democrats nominated Clark after Woodward waged an expensive, exhaustive and heartbreaking court battle, which ended up disqualifying both contenders. Nevertheless, Clark is a crackerjack campaigner whose libertarianism appeals to voters disaffected by the disputed 2004 race.

BY STEVE SHAW
leo@leoweekly.com

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