There is no debating it, again

Why would Republican mayoral candidate and Metro Councilwoman Angela Leet want another debate with Mayor Greg Fischer?

Hasn’t she lost enough?

After last week’s debate, it is obvious that Fischer overwhelms Leet in policy… and politics. Fischer will win this reelection handily, as he should.

Where he demonstrated full command over issue after issue, Leet seemed completely stuck to her script… which was cursory at best.

From the challenges of creating more direct flights at Louisville International Airport to the need to open more grocery stores and eliminate food deserts, Fischer demonstrated a deep understanding of the issues. He clearly understood the economics that drive decisions of various industries.

When asked about Metropolitan Sewer District and sewer infrastructure, Leet eagerly offered her engineering background. Fischer, on the other hand, had made his fortune as an entrepreneur, and he knew our sewer problems are basically about economics… not engineering. A mayor must know economics, not engineering.

One stark contrast between the two was when they were asked about restrictive housing covenants — redlining. Other than managing to identify that it had to do with segregation, Leet didn’t seem to understand Louisville’s history of the practice. “The fact of the matter is, it is horrible. It is not a thing that we agree with. We want to stop redlining,” she said.

Compare that to Fischer’s response: “Redlining was a practice in the 1930s to 1950s where mortgage brokers would put red lines around areas of cities indicating they were dangerous areas … it was long ago eliminated. It resulted in institutionalized racism.” He further explained that his administration is working to make sure “every person has high-speed internet … so there is not a new form of redlining taking place.” Will he succeed? We hope so. At least he understands the concept.

Even Leet’s plan for reducing violent crime — the core issue of her campaign — fell flat. She made it clear she would replace police Chief Steve Conrad. Her other solution seemed to be based on paying officers more. “We should never have police officers who choose a career in law enforcement, having to work two or three jobs to provide for their family,” she said.

She doesn’t say how she plans to accomplish this. It seemed to be a line scripted to pander to the police union, which recently endorsed her.

Fischer made a convincing case that violent crime, which is down locally in recent years, is not the fault of one person… the chief. Homicides more than doubled from the year he took office 2011 — from about 50 to a high of about 120 in 2016 — largely because of the opioid epidemic. The rate has since declined, and the mayor and council have poured money into neighborhood initiatives, including No More Red Dots, a violence-disrupter group LEO wrote about in 2017.

Like plenty of politicians, Leet restates problems she reads about in headlines. In the best case, they might be reacting to the pulse of their districts. Leet is not. She loses on the politics, too. In a liberal, Democratic city, Leet is running as a McConnell/Bevin Republican — two politicians who couldn’t be elected as dog catcher in Louisville.

When asked what part of the Republican agenda appealed to her — and why she is a Republican — Leet offered “strong family values, hard work, integrity, limited government, limiting our expenditures.”

If that wasn’t vague enough, Leet even sprinkled into her remarks a little Trump Republicanism — echoing his “American carnage” gaff. In her opening remarks, she said, “I’m running for the children who step over body bags when they get off the bus.” This is hyperbolic to the point of being an outright lie. No child, adult or student has stepped over a body bag getting off the bus. It’s offensive to politicize homicides. This isn’t just hyperbolic — it’s an outright lie.

Fischer, who has frustrated the progressive liberal side of his base, gave a surprisingly brilliant list of values that make him a Democrat: Working people; economic equality; educational equality; keeping our schools out of state control; protecting a woman’s right to choose; and protecting LGBTQ rights and equality.

For Leet, convincing Louisville that she should be mayor was always going to be difficult. Now, it is obvious only Fischer is prepared for the job… and more debates won’t change that.