April 18, 2010

Kentucky voters have an opportunity this year to upgrade their representation in the U.S. Senate. Republican Sen. Jim Bunning, whose list of legislative accomplishments in 12 years is negligible and list of embarrassing utterances and actions is long, is retiring. It will be an easy record for hopefuls of either party to surpass.

On the Democratic side, state Attorney General Jack Conway of Louisville stands out as a superior candidate, and we endorse him for his party's nomination. He has an enviable record of policy-making accomplishment in state government and ran a principled though unsuccessful race for Congress in 2002.

Mr. Conway served for six years as a senior cabinet-level official in the administration of Gov. Paul Patton, where he was a key player in the state's 1997 higher education reforms, as well as in energy and criminal justice policy. After being elected attorney general in 2007, Mr. Conway pushed bipartisan legislation to protect children from online predators, created a cybercrime unit and successfully sued drug companies on behalf of the state's Medicaid program.

More important, however, Mr. Conway would pursue a more progressive agenda in the Senate than would his principal rival, Lt. Gov. Daniel Mongiardo of Hazard.

Mr. Conway, unlike Dr. Mongiardo, says flatly that he would have voted for the recently enacted national health care reform. Only he seems fully aware that a measure that expands insurance coverage, prohibits denial of insurance based on pre-existing conditions and creates exchanges to lower the cost of premiums is of special benefit to Kentucky, which has higher rates of poverty and illness than the nation as a whole.

Better yet, Mr. Conway is already thinking of ways to improve health care reform, such as allowing younger, healthier adults to participate in Medicare ? a step that would provide revenues for Medicare and allow more people to take advantage of an efficient system ? and giving Medicare officials the power to negotiate bulk rates for medications. Mr. Conway also dismissively ? and correctly ? refused to join the ranks of right-wing attorneys general from some other states who are filing quixotic suits to overturn reform.

Read More: Courier-Journal.com

May 9, 2010

Kentucky Democrats find themselves in a win-win situation as they prepare to pick their nominee to replace retiring U.S. Sen. Jim Bunning.

Lt. Gov. Daniel Mongiardo and Attorney General Jack Conway are well qualified for the office. Each one understands the needs of the state and has the vision to address them in a thoughtful manner.

Except, unfortunately, where coal is concerned. There, each seems more than willing to put the interests of coal ahead of some of the state's more pressing environmental needs.

Unfortunately, too, each has been quick to use the misleading and deceptive negative attack ads that are all too prevalent in American political campaigns. Democratic voters should ignore ? indeed, should abhor ? these tactics and look instead to the past performance of the party's two leading candidates.

If they do, they will find much to recommend each man. But we believe they will find a bit more to recommend Conway.

Three other Democrats will be on the primary ballot ? Henderson doctor James Buckmaster; Army veteran and former customs agent Darlene Fitzgerald Price of McCreary County; and Maurice Sweeney, a Jefferson County businessman with a lengthy history of civic and civil rights involvement.

We encourage Price and Sweeney, in particular, to continue pursuing their interest in politics. They would be outstanding candidates for local or state legislative office, and with time and seasoning might well set their sights higher again at a later date.

But the two standouts in this primary election are Conway and Mongiardo.

Conway's edge over Mongiardo may result from something of a default. Mongiardo's main accomplishments include forcing Bunning to bring every relief pitcher out of the Kentucky Republican bullpen to eke out a narrow re-election win over the then largely unknown state Sen. Mongiardo in 2004.

Read more: Herald-Leader.com

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