After all the talk, the champ is standing in the ring waiting and some of his opponents are starting to doubt whether he can really be knocked out. If he can be beaten, they are wondering who should be sent in to do the deed. Like him or not, Mitch McConnell is still the champ, and in the immortal words of the Nature Boy Ric Flair, “To be the man (or woman in this case), you gotta beat the man!”
Interestingly, the Kentucky Democratic Party’s supposed dream candidate may not be such a darling at all. A lot of things seem cool in theory. Reality, however, has a nasty way of intruding upon dreams. Maybe that’s what’s happening to all the fervor around Ashley Judd’s potential Senate run. Multiple venues have reported that her party is having second thoughts. Though Judd hasn’t officially announced an actual run, her candidacy is becoming more and more of a possibility. Now, Kentucky Democrats seem to be balking, because some don’t believe she can beat McConnell. Take, for instance, Jim Cauley, Steve Beshear’s campaign manager in 2007, who recently commented, “She’s going to have a tough road to hoe. She doesn’t fit the damn state.”
As disappointing as it may be, Cauley could be right. Let’s look at what’s going on policy wise and ideologically in Kentucky. In 2012, 60 percent of Kentuckians voted for Mitt Romney. Just under 58 percent voted for John McCain in 2008. George W. Bush won over 56 percent of Kentucky’s vote in 2000 and almost 60 percent in 2004. So the bluegrass state has been consistent in recent years and proud of it.
It doesn’t stop at presidential elections for your Old Kentucky Home. Recently, Republicans and Democrats in the state House battled over whether prisoners should be included in population counts for redistricting — even though prisoners can’t vote. Democrats passed a plan that did not include federal prisoners as part of the state’s population. Every Republican and one Democrat protested. In protesting, they confirmed that they still believe in counting fettered people as part of the population to increase political representation without granting them the franchise. Does this bring back any bad historical memories? (Hint: slavery, the Three-Fifths Compromise, wars over the 15th and 19th amendments, etc.)
Also earlier this year, Kentucky state officials announced the state will dramatically cut child care assistance to low-income families and will pay no new subsidies to relatives raising abused or neglected children beginning in April. The cuts come as part of the Cabinet for Health and Family Services efforts to address an $86 million-plus shortfall in the budget for the Department for Community Based Services that oversees child and adult protection and other programs like food stamps.
Beginning in July, the income requirements for parents in the child care assistance program will drop from $33,075 for a family of four to $22,050 — just below the current federal poverty line of $23,550. The cabinet estimates that as many 8,700 families could lose child care assistance money when the new income guidelines are instituted. An additional 2,900 children per month will likely not receive child care assistance because of the moratorium on new applications to the program beginning in April.
Of course, many Kentuckians are just fine with these cuts. Some of the comments concerning the poor are telling. One Kentuckian commented on a recent article on the subject in The Herald-Leader: “These welfare people need to stop having babies that they have no way to support, unless you count taxpayer help.” Another chimed in that these folks “sell their food stamps for liquor, drugs, and cigarettes.” I could go on. Who says there is no war on the poor?
If that’s not enough, Kentucky has kept Mitch McConnell in the U.S. Senate for nearly three decades (since 1984). To really make a statement, the commonwealth even sent Rand Paul to Washington in 2010 to complete its conservative (and sometimes nutty) Senate dynamic duo. So maybe Cauley is right. Maybe Ashley Judd “doesn’t fit the damn state.” But she might just be brave enough to run and attempt to make the state fit her.
My advice to Judd: Have no fear, stay strong, stand on truth, do justice, and do not leave the people in the hands of fools. Forget Cauley and those of his ilk. Whether you win or lose — RUN! You never know what could happen.
Visit The Jones at rickyljones.com.