Sunday, October 24, 2010

Courier-Journal endorses Jack Conway for Senate

The Courier-Journal endorsed Jack Conway for the United States Senate.
When Kentucky voters go to the polls Nov. 2, they will be casting a verdict on one of the most closely watched Senate races in the nation.

The Republican candidate, Rand Paul, a Bowling Green ophthalmologist, is widely viewed as a measuring stick of the appeal of the libertarian values of much of the tea party movement. His candidacy rests largely on voter discontent with the administration of President Obama, who fared poorly in the 2008 election in Kentucky. Republican strategists view a victory by Dr. Paul as almost essential if they are to capture a Senate majority.

The Democratic candidate, Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway of Louisville, supports the oft-maligned national health care reform, but has tried to distance himself from Mr. Obama. Instead, he has leaned more heavily on former President Bill Clinton, who has scheduled two Kentucky visits on his behalf. Some pundits and Democratic operatives view this Senate position, which became open when incumbent GOP Sen. Jim Bunning announced his retirement plans, as the only Republican seat in the country that might be captured by a Democrat.

While all of that is interesting and indeed significant, Kentucky voters should also look out for their own interests in the United States Senate. If they do, they will elect Mr. Conway, whose candidacy we enthusiastically endorse.

Unlike Dr. Paul, who has never held a government office, Mr. Conway already has a strong record of public service. As a senior adviser and a legal counsel under Gov. Paul Patton, Mr. Conway played a key policy-making role, including as an architect of the nationally acclaimed higher education reform law of 1997. In almost three years as attorney general, Mr. Conway has saved the state's taxpayers several hundred millions of dollars, fighting high Medicaid drug costs, unjustified utility rate hikes and price gouging by oil companies. He also saved money by not joining the right-wing lawsuit against health care reform, noting that it also could open legal challenges to Social Security and Medicare.[...]

However, there is much about Mr. Conway's platform to applaud. He has a sensible plan to save $430 billion over 10 years — that's not enough, but it's a good start — by allowing Medicare to negotiate bulk rates on prescription drugs, fighting Medicare fraud and abuse, and closing offshore tax shelters and loopholes. He proposes a Small Business Loan Fund to enable local banks to lend more money to small businesses. He promises to be a sharp-eyed watchdog against the danger of war without end in Afghanistan.

Dr. Paul's campaign, on the other hand, has been a loopy journey of bizarre positions, often followed by reversals or clarifications. At various times, he has questioned the government's right to prevent racial discrimination by businesses, brushed off the need for the Americans with Disabilities Act (there are at least 12,000 disabled veterans alone in Kentucky) and tough mine-safety regulations, suggested federal anti-drug programs aren't essential in this state, floated the idea of a $2,000 deductible for Medicare and briefly seemed to endorse a regressive 23 percent sales tax to replace income taxes.

As these positions suggest, Dr. Paul has a national ideology but little understanding of Kentucky. At its core, his anti-tax, anti-spending agenda appears not to recognize that Kentucky receives far more in money from the federal government than it sends to Washington. At best, Dr. Paul's odd positions might embarrass Kentucky. At worst, he could cast votes that would inflict serious harm on the state.
Put Kentucky first and elect Jack Conway to the United States Senate.

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