Another Kentucky Derby has come and gone and for reasons unknown, I still have that rotten song “Come on Eileen” stuck in my head.
I’m certain it wasn’t played anywhere at the track – at least on the backside – and my failed short-term memory has no recollection of the events that occurred after the eleventh race at Churchill on Saturday.
All I can tell you for certain is, for the second year in a row, I cashed a winning Derby ticket.
So it is with great relief that I breathe deeply and swiftly move us all beyond those questionable events of this past weekend and forward into primary election season in Kentucky.
The 2011 primary election is being held on Tuesday, May 17th.
Like the Derby, this election card is full of underdogs, funny names, also-rans, hopeless long-shots and people you wouldn’t generally want to spend a lot of time hanging around.
For that reason, I have put together a “scratch sheet” for your convenience featuring the hottest and most insane races, with the exception of the Republican primary for Governor. That will be tackled in the near future.
Race 1: Secretary of State
- Republicans Hilda Legg and Bill Johnson square off in a match some have called “desperate” and “embarrassing.” Businessman Johnson has pledged to keep George Soros and his “leftist agenda” out of Kentucky’s voting booths and trails Legg in fundraising, class and tact. Not to be outdone, Legg says she will tackle the non-existent problem of illegal aliens casting votes and influencing elections in the Commonwealth. Both candidates are relying heavily on the illogical fear of Mexicans stealing elections. Favorite: Dead heat. Both are equally terrifying and will have soiled the ballot merely by having their names printed on it.
- Democratic candidates Elaine Walker and Alison Lundergan Grimes are fighting a proxy war on behalf of Governor Beshear and former Kentucky Democratic Party chairman Jerry Lundergan (candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes’ father). Beshear appointed then-Bowling Green mayor Walker to the office after Trey Grayson left for Harvard. The whole thing reads like a redneck soap opera, and the race has caused at least one fist fight in a South Louisville bar. Note: The Lundergan Grimes supporter won. Favorite: Alison Lundergan Grimes
Race 2: Commissioner of Agriculture
- Five Democrats are running in the primary. In a crowded field, the casual bettor usually makes his or her picks by selecting a name that jumps off the page. My wife does this every year at the track and wins handsomely. Between Bob Farmer of Louisville, Stewart Gritton of Lawrenceburg, John Lackey of Richmond, David Williams of Glasgow and B.D. Wilson of Frankfort, I’m going with Favorite: Bob Farmer. Not an actual farmer, but then again, neither is the current officeholder. A great long-shot bet is Stewart Gritton, though a piece of advice for Stu: Get a union bug printed on those business cards.
- On the Republican side, state Rep. Jamie Comer is running against Shelby County judge-executive Rob Rothenburger. Both of the men are farmers and both of them support the legalization of industrial hemp in Kentucky, which is an extremely interesting idea, and wholly in conflict with GOP politics. Comer has a huge lead in fundraising. Favorite: Jamie Comer
Race 3: Auditor of Public Accounts
- There is no primary challenger for Democratic candidate Adam Edelen, former chief of staff to Governor Beshear. But after reading about his possible Republican opponents below, you will see why he will be your next auditor.
- State Rep. Addia Wuchner faces John T. Kemper in the Republican primary for Auditor of Public Accounts. Both candidates in this race are calling for more “transparency” in state spending and both of them incorrectly see the auditor’s office as a means to control the purse strings. John Kemper, a Lexington homebuilder, has lost his home to foreclosure and filed bankruptcy in 2009. Kemper is pushing his plan for a “debt-free Kentucky” while on the campaign trail. There’s no indication if walking away from financial obligations is part of Kemper’s “debt-free” plan for the state. Kemper also advocates the unconstitutional expansion of the office’s duties until forced to stop doing so. As for Rep. Wuchner, the Boone County Republican has riled some on the far-right for her “nanny state” proposal to help fight childhood obesity in Kentucky. She has also been accused of defrauding an insurance company by claiming to be unfit for full-time employment, drawing benefits, then running for office. When Wuchner whips Kemper in this tragically comical GOP primary, her own party will devour her, along with any chance of becoming auditor. Favorite, but eventual sacrificial lamb: Addia Wuchner
Most of these candidates will fail to menace, and a few have already been victims of bad starts. In at least one of these races, both candidates deserve to lose. But here’s to a strong finish, with hopes of a better Kentucky.