Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Gov. Beshear Punts on Third Down

They say offense wins games and defense wins championships. Well, tonight Governor Beshear punted on third down. I'm guessing that he is hoping that his defense will hold and he can win in over-time.

As a friend likes to say, "he kicked the can down the street." Governor Beshear delivered his budget address to a joint session of the Kentucky General Assembly tonight, presenting his budget that included revenue from expanded gaming. Revenue that does not exist mind you.

My conclusion is that the Governor has decided that he is not going to be the "bad guy" all by himself anymore. If the Legislature is not going to give him his gambling bill then he is going to let the House and the Senate share the blame of having to cut government jobs & services. The Governors action served a dual purpose tonight politically. I will have to admit that I expected Beshear when he was elected to be better at the governing aspect of the job as opposed to the political piece. Much to my surprise he has been a pretty shrewd politician.

As I like to say he has put an "X" where there was an "O". Not much offense but a good defense. I did not think so until he chose Jerry Abramson as his running mate. At first I thought that was a lousy choice but after careful review it began to appear to me as a quite brilliant political maneuver. With the growing popularity and power of the triumvirate faction of Chandler, Conway & Luallen, most expected that Conway would would run for Governor as a fall back position should he lose the Senate race. By choosing Abramson as his running mate it would be awful hard for someone from Jefferson County to run for Governor. Beshear also gave a nice position to Chandler's wife. Actions that compromise. He put an "X" where there was an "O".

I have been disappointed in the Governor's efforts to empower Western & Rural Kentucky. When he was campaigning we were led to believe that we would have a seat at the table but that has not happened. The Governor has filled most of his positions and appointments with Liberals and fellow trial lawyers. So what does the Governor do as opposed to being labeled a Liberal?,he endorses Lt. Governor Dan Monjiardo, a Rural Populist, over the Liberal Jack Conway. Again, He puts and "X" where there was an "O".

So what was the dual purpose served by the Governor's actions tonight.First, By punting the ball to the Legislature he eliminates any free ride Speaker Stumbo might have regarding a possible Primary challenge. Stumbo along with Sen. Williams will have to assume some shared responsibility regarding any negative outcomes from a budget.

Secondly, remember about kicking the can- well, the Governor may also be able to buy some time here. Call it waiting on Washington. The General Assembly may very well put all this off until a Special Session can be called giving time to see if Kentucky will prevail in receiving more stimulus dollars. More Federal help will buy time while we wait on a better economy and possibly delay in making drastic cuts to government jobs and services.

Beshear was elected by appealing to a small fraction (10%) of independent minded voters. He works to end up in the middle most days and that will be more important than ever come next year. Beshear was elected in the first wave of these newly defined, undecided & independent minded voters. This started in 2006 not in New Jersey or Virginia. I will be discussing this new era in my next post. The problem with sticking to the middle sometimes is that eventually you will get hit by traffic from both ways. The Governor will have to be careful not alienate Rural Kentucky any more than they already are because the political environment is ripe for a good Republican candidate like Mike Duncan to run.

Even though I have not been real happy so far with Steve Beshear, I will have to give him credit-he can tread water in the deep end with a gun in his hand. He has one hell of a defense but he still going to have to put some points on the board.


Jeff Noble said...

Tim --

This is interesting and excellent commentary. I do not know if I agree with what you say, but you've put a positive face on what is otherwise a negative picture - that of our state's budget shortfalls and our government's thus-far inability to reverse (rather than just handle) it.

The most compelling thing you've written is one I have, embarassingly, never thought of - that of why Mayor Abramson was chosen as his running mate. As an allegedly in-the-know/know-it-all local hack, the key word being allegedly, I will tell you that few days go by here in Louisville that someone doesn't ask me "Why Abramson?" I can't think of the most recent day that I wasn't asked that question. I've honestly never had a good response. We will go through the "well, Jerry is an excellent fundraiser" and "well, Jerry has excellent connections in DC" and "well, Jerry is as experienced as any politician in Kentucky" and then we tend to run out of the "well, Jerry" good reasons the governor tagged him and fall back on "yeah, but Steve carried Jefferson anyway" and "how will Jerry do out in the state?" and other such discussions.

You're idea that the governor tagged Jerry to block Jack is an idea that 1) I've never enetertained; and 2) makes perfect sense; and 3) makes me want to kick myself saying "Why didn't you think of that, Jeff?" Putting an X where there was an O as you put it. As I played baseball, we had diamonds and numbers for positions, but few X's and O's other than the 3rd base coach scratching various parts of his body to signal a steal or whatever. But, I digress.

There is, perhaps, a fallacy, to your argument. In using the X's and O's approach, you are assuming that the "other side" for the governor (the X) is the General Assembly (the O's), aren't you?

Maybe I'm reading it wrong. I think that the "other side" for the governor and the General Assembly are "we the people." I'm not sure where "we the people" fit on your coach's gameboard. You touched on this when you said the governor is forcing upon the General Assembly some of the responsibility for a failed budget should they not pass the gaming legislation. As you indicated, it is a very shrewd move on his part.

I am hopeful that, collectively, the General Assembly and the governor will mark an X on behalf of "we the people" where there, presently, is an O, or more precisely, a 0.

Jeff Noble

Tim Havrilek said...

Jeff, Thanks for commenting. I guess I should done a little better job but it was late. The X & O's refer to Tic,Tac,Toe not football-meaning the Governor does a good job of blocking his oppoonents. Tim

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