(Editor’s note: Curtis Morrison is a volunteer organizer with the SuperPac Progress Kentucky, but the views expressed here are his own. Curtis has been quoted extensively in the non-stop national coverage including in this post at Salon.com.)
The grassroots SuperPac Progress Kentucky is getting all kinds of flack from Democrats who are skeptical about encouraging Republicans to challenge Sen. Mitch McConnell in the 2014 Republican primary.
Meanwhile, big coal appears to be planning to run their own Manchurian candidate in the 2014 Democratic primary, and that doesn’t seem to be getting but a few raised eyebrows?
Let’s be honest here, big coal wants to destroy potential senate candidate Ashley Judd like they destroy our pristine Appalachian mountains everyday. And if they aren’t successful, it may mean fewer mountains will be destroyed.
Last week, The Young Turks called out a couple Kentucky Democratic strategists for abandoning their principles by overstating Judd’s weaknesses to Roll Call.
Like Jimmy Cauley, who ran Gov. Steve “EPA, git off our backs!” Beshear’s successful 2007 campaign for governor.
Cauley said, “If she runs, I think that it would be a catastrophe for a lot of down ballot races in Kentucky,”
“A number of state Democratic lawmakers had ‘significant worry’ about Ashley being on the ballot.”
The Young Turks also quoted Dale Emmons, a strategist who helped elect Alison Lundergan Grimes as Kentucky’s Secretary of State. Grimes is also a potential Democratic candidate without a record of activism against mountaintop removal. Emmons had this to say:
“There’s some time for this to play out, but we don’t need to waste a lot of time on a fantasy. We need a real candidate.”
Here’s the whole must-see episode:
The Lexington Herald-Leader blog, Bluegrass Politics, reported Tuesday that Speaker of the House Rep. Greg Stumbo (D-Prestonsburg) says Judd should talk to Beshear and other democratic leaders (like himself) before deciding whether to run for the US Senate seat now occupied by Senator Mitch McConnell.
House Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, said Tuesday that Judd should contact Gov. Steve Beshear about the race. “When we discussed this with the governor last week, he indicated that he’s not had that contact yet,” Stumbo said. He said he hoped Judd would also talk to other Democratic leaders in Kentucky. “I think there are some things that we could suggest to her that may help her as she formulated her campaign,” Stumbo said.
Reading between the lines, Stumbo must believe he and Beshear have been elected as the gatekeepers of Kentucky democracy.
Right after Bluegrass Politics shared Stumbo’s ‘advice’ on Twitter, the tweet was merrily retweeted by @KentuckyCoal, the twitter account for the Kentucky Coal Association. According to their website, Kentucky Coal is “the state’s leading coal association with members representing both Eastern and Western Kentucky, surface and underground production, and union and non-union operations.”
I heard a story last week that Stumbo had told one of his constituents that “if he wanted to save the mountains, he should just go buy one.” That story was told by Carl, a coal miner and former Marine who gave a speech at last week’s Kentuckians for the Commonwealth’s I LOVE MOUNTAINS Day.
Carl’s story is anecdotal, yes, but Stumbo’s record as a mountaintop removal advocate is pretty thick. A quick glance at Stumbo’s KREF records show his campaign has received contributions from coal giant Alpha Natural Resources as recently October 28, 2012, when they gave his campaign $1,000.
And Kentucky Coal can gin up an establishment Democrat with a pile of mountaintop-removal, coal-stained, cash. They have dependable henchmen in Beshear, Stumbo and even former Lt. Governor Dr. Dan Mongiardo, who, maybe-not-so-randomly, came out of political retirement long enough to make preemptive attacks on Judd via national networks a couple weeks ago.
Seeing Mongiardo on TV was unsettling, especially when he was just there to piss and moan about a hypothetical candidacy which his coal-patrons disapprove.
There are two things the coal corporations and their operatives are underestimating:
1) Votes. Mountaintop removal is not very popular right now. Anywhere. With anyone. In 2011, a poll published in Grist reported that even 57 percent of Kentucky Appalachians oppose the practice. (Notice Karl Rove’s Crossroads video; he didn’t hit Judd on her activism against mountaintop removal.) Between the climate change disasters we’ve seen worldwide over the last couple years, and the evidence of drinking water pollution that has been coming out of Eastern Kentucky near mountaintop removal sites, that figure could likely be much higher for 2014.
So, if candidates oppose mountaintop removal in 2014, that opposition will not be a liability, but an asset. Judd will not suffer votes for her advocacy in preserving her Appalachian homeland.
2) Money. Coal money is not going to be the factor in this race that it has been in every Kentucky election since we were a county of Virginia. One reason, there are a couple McConnell challengers who won’t need coal money. Like Judd, who is rumored to have a personal net worth’s of over $20 million. Matthew Bevin, the Republican considering challenging McConnell, is rich as well.
With McConnell as the senate minority leader, and the most unpopular senator in the country, this election will be the most expensive non-presidential election ever in their history on this planet.
The flow of money will be intense, and from industries other than coal. Even McConnell’s taken a liking to accepting nearly twice as much from the oil and gas industries, whose agenda is directly at odds with Kentucky’s coal industry.
The use of fracking technology, despite its environmental costs, now makes natural gas cheaper than coal – and perhaps more important to McConnell?
Point being, over the next 21 months, the money in this election will be followed pretty closely by journalists worldwide. Do the coal corporations really believe they can finance a covert Democratic Party primary challenge against Ashley Judd, and no one will notice?
Do they believe voters won’t find out, and that they won’t be exposed?
If that’s really big coal’s plan – to be all stealth and on the DL – their coal-loving social media canary might be a tad more careful about what he/she is tweeting (or retweeting).
Another Kentucky blogger articulately recognized the hypocrisy inherent in Democrats opposing Judd before I did, but warning, much potty language he uses: