June 29, 2009

ROLL CALL: Grayson on Track to Raise About $500,000

Roll Call follows up on a story posted first here last week, reporting that Secretary of State Trey Grayson is on track to raise $500,000 for his U.S. Senate exploratory committee. That's the same total this blog previously reported.

GOP insiders are anxiously awaiting second-quarter reports from both Grayson and U.S. Sen. Jim Bunning, who has struggled to raise money for his re-election bid and might bow out of the race. A $500,000 haul would be a decent take for Grayson, but not eye-popping. Sources close to potential rival Cathy Bailey say a posting of that amount would do little to deter her from jumping in the Republican primary ($500,000 was the minimum showing Bailey suggested was needed by a candidate in their first quarter). Another potential candidate, Rand Paul, is closing in on $100,000.

Meanwhile, on the Democratic side, Attorney General Jack Conway continues to blow away the competition. Sources suggest he could raise more than $1.2 million for his primary race against Lt. Gov. Dan Mongiardo.

Check back with KyPolitics.org for the latest and most accurate on the 2010 Senate showdown.

UPDATE, 10:02 p.m. -- Paul has eclipsed the $100,000 mark. A decent showing that becomes remarkable when considering the context: a first time candidate, officially exploring the race for less than a month, who has yet to hold a fundraiser.

With more than 1,000 donors, the average contribution to his exploratory committee is less than $100, meaning many of those contributors can be tapped again... and again. Paul looks to be in the race to stay and will be a factor.

June 25, 2009

SOURCE: GOP State Senate fundraiser 'total bust'

We reported earlier this month about GOP U.S. Senate hopeful Cathy Bailey's plans to host a fundraiser for the GOP caucus trust in the state senate. Tonight was the big night, and our deep undercover source at the shindig says it was a "total bust."

The fundraiser comes on the heels of Senate President David Williams' decision to kill the slots bill during the legislature's special session earlier this week. Turns out that was not a popular decision among donors invited to Bailey's home. Of the measly 40 people that showed for the fundraiser, our source indicates that a dozen were Williams' staffers and five were caucus members. Williams is said to have given a half-hearted speech about how he has been vilified by the horse set in the wake of his triumph over slots, and expects more of the same when Ohio Governor Ted Strickland inks an executive order legalizing gaming in that state.

After Williams' speech GOP activist Bill Stone let loose a tirade on Williams - telling him everything that the other gathered few were whispering under their breath: that he has doomed his party's chances of retaining the Senate majority in 2010.

We are told Williams reacted poorly to Stone's verbal chastisement.

June 18, 2009

Conway expected to lap competition in Senate fundraising race

Two storylines are expected to emerge from second-quarter Federal Election Commission reports (deadline: June 30) to be filed by Kentucky's U.S. Senate candidates next month.

1) Sources close to Attorney General Jack Conway's campaign expect him to post a fundraising total north of $1 million. His major opponent, Lt. Gov. Daniel Mongiardo, is expected to report having raised significantly less this quarter, although his cash-on-hand and cumulative totals will be more competitive.

This would help establish Conway as the frontrunner in the Democratic primary, despite trailing Mongiardo in current polling. It would also underscore the sense that Kentucky Democrats, for the first time in almost two decades, have several advantages -- attractive candidates, fundraising prowess -- that have usually been reserved for the GOP in Senate races.

None of the Republican candidates are expected to approach Conway's total, a situation that may blind-side the show-of-strength hopes of potential candidates like Secretary of State Trey Grayson, a friend, but envious political competitor of Conway. 

An eye-popping total from Conway is also likely to boost the already strong establishment support for Cathy Bailey, a self-funding millionaire and the Kentucky GOP's most elite fundraiser.

2) The bottom-line totals on the Republican side are expected to be much closer to each other -- and nearer the $500,000 mark. Incumbent Sen. Jim Bunning will improve on his abysmal first quarter. Grayson has had some success raising funds, but aides and allies won't say if he will outraise Bunning this quarter. The difference between their totals will be key in determining the future of the GOP side of the race, whether Bunning is contemplating an exit or not, as many suggest.

If Grayson can't outraise Bunning, his campaign effort will no doubt be seen as weak, boosting other competitors like Bailey and Rand Paul (who will post a decent, but not outstanding, total). Both Grayson and Paul are in the race by way of exploratory committees, but that distinction will serve as little excuse for lackluster showings. 

Many in the GOP criticize Bunning because they believe he can't win. If others can't display an ability to run better, why are we being put through their trials?

June 16, 2009

UPDATE: Barzun to Sweden

We relayed in March that Kentucky Democratic activist and fundraiser Matthew Barzun was poised to be tapped by President Barack Obama for a prominent foreign post. Word out of Stockholm today is that Barzun will be the next ambassador to Sweden (it's a coveted position).

Here's a story from The Local, which includes a reference to our March post:

Web pioneer to be next US ambassador

A 38-year-old internet entrepreneur who went on to become one of Barack Obama's top fundraisers will soon be nominated to become the United States’ next ambassador to Sweden.

Matthew Barzun, a Louisville, Kentucky-based internet publishing executive, is expected to be named soon as President Obama’s pick as US ambassador to Sweden, The Local has learned.

Barzun, who began his career as one of the first employees of the CNET media company, joined the Obama campaign’s National Finance Committee for the 2008 presidential election and helped pioneer events which catered to small donors.

According to statistics from the Center for Responsive Politics, an independent research organization that tracks money in politics, Barzun helped bring in more than $500,000 to the Obama campaign for the 2008 election cycle.


Grayson battles bad news and small crowds

Grayson Too many inexperienced chefs in the kitchen over at Trey Grayson for Senate headquarters are a mess in the making if the last 24 hours of press coverage are any indication. Two news stories prove the point.

First, the Herald-Leader reported yesterday that State Senate President David Williams is taking a pass on the crowded GOP primary for the 2010 U.S. Senate race. Williams claims he wants to remain in charge of that chamber while taking a not-so-subtle swipe at Grayson. Citing Cathy Bailey as the most experienced challenger to Senator Jim Bunning, the savvy Williams lets the GOP faithful know which number his chips are on. Williams pours some gasoline on the fire when he says that Grayson is "telling everybody" that Bunning is hanging it up. Bunning steadfastly denies this rumor - whether it is coming from Grayson or anybody else.

Second, the Times Tribune of Corbin reports today on an anemic crowd at Grayson's first "old Fifth" fundraiser. Less than 50 people showed up to the event, and Grayson himself had to apologize for being a late arrival. But, Grayson proclaims that the event will be "one of my most successful."

An ominous prediction for the bottom line numbers. Looks like it might be time to hire some professional fund raising help for the Grayson campaign.

June 11, 2009

Despite losing subscribers...

Despite losing subscribers, the Herald Leader did one heck of a job on its reporting on the spending of tax payer dollars by the Kentucky League of Cities. The League is funded in large part through dues paid by member Cities from the General Funds of municipalities across Kentucky who have had to trim essential services.

It’s clear that most of the members of the board of directors didn’t know about the salary and perks Sylvia Lovely was providing herself. Wonder if they knew about the latest campaign video?

This may be the most embarrassing part yet...

June 09, 2009

Steady Decline: Herald-Leader, Courier-Journal continue circulation losses

Some numbers to chew on. Circulation statistics for the Lexington Herald-Leader and Louisville Courier-Journal over the past six years:

Lexington Herald-Leader



2004 118,070 147,004
2005 116,894 147,208
2006 114,135 141,019
2007 111,124 138,986
2008 109,624 135,250
2009 104,221 119,607
Louisville Courier-Journal




2004 216,934 279,611
2005 215,734 276,032
2006 217,814 271,920
2007 218,796 266,594
2008 215,328 258,778
2009 193,992 250,277
*Compiled by the Audit Bureau of Circulations

June 06, 2009

SENDING A MESSAGE? Bailey to host fundraiser for Williams, Senate GOP

Former ambassador and GOP fundraiser Cathy Bailey is co-hosting a fundraiser at her home in Louisville later this month, benefiting the Senate Republican Trust and honoring Senate President David Williams. Her role in the event is sure to be seen as a slight to Secretary of State Trey Grayson, a potential opponent in next year's primary for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Jim Bunning.

The event, to be held on Thursday, June 25, comes just days before the end of the FEC quarterly filing deadline for federal races. Grayson has worked overtime in past weeks to line up support for his bid and raise money to post a strong number by the FEC deadline. He announced an exploratory committee, followed by a finance committee, several weeks ago in an effort to display broad support, both politically and financially. Both rollouts have drawn mixed reviews, encouraging other candidates.

The alliance of Bailey and Williams is no coincidence, sources say.

"They are sending a message to folks who might be thinking about supporting Grayson: Keep your powder dry," said one GOP insider. "The field is not set."

The interest Williams himself showed in running earlier this year has abated, but he has little confidence in Grayson, sources say. Williams remains upset over watching his go-to pollster, Jan van Lohuizen, defect to Grayson's camp -- without any notice. While Grayson won that personnel battle, other behind the scenes games haven't gone so well. Anymosity has ensued, with the players bashing each other in private conversations with potential supporters.

"It's gotten nasty," said a source.

All of this. And, meanwhile, Bunning continues to insist that he will run. Rand Paul raises good money online. And second tier candidates throw themselves into the fray. Could be a full ballot next May.

May 29, 2009

No committee yet, but Bailey hiring campaign consultants

Undercover sources connected to the fledgling "campaign" of U.S. Senate hopeful Cathy Bailey are boasting loudly about Bailey hiring a Louisville public relations firm to "manage her image." It seems that Bailey has contracted with Peritus Public Relations to kiss-up to the media on Bailey's behalf.

Our source tells us, "Cathy is just over the moon about snagging political heavyweight Scott Jennings (Peritus' "strategic director"). She's making calls to every influential Republican she knows to tell them she hired Scott away from Trey Grayson."

Three questions:

1. If Cathy Bailey is spending money on an image consultant for her campaign, shouldn't she file some paperwork with the FEC?

2. Why is there a battle between Trey Grayson and Cathy Bailey over the subject of U.S. DOJ ethics probe in Washington DC?

3. It appears Grayson lost this round. So, why is he still fawning over Scott?

In other news
, Jim Bunning finds all of this backbiting quite sporting.

May 27, 2009

Paul to embark on national fundraising tour

Will the Revolution have the money to be televised?  That's what Kentucky GOP insiders are asking -- and fearing. 

Raising $25,000 in a week or so online is one thing. It will take much, much more for Rand Paul to buy the TV advertising to effectively spread his message across the GOP primary playing field. Apparently, Paul understands this, as he's looking to add some conventional fundraising to his unconventional campaign. Paul plans a national fundraising tour, with stops in California, Texas, New York and Florida.

There is scant evidence that the GOP establishment in Kentucky is taking Paul as a serious threat to win -- he's not even in the race yet, because Jim Bunning is still in.  But even when he officially enters, RPK types probably won't pay Paul much attention, unless evidence on the ground shifts in his favor and they must. Best not to draw attention to his campaign.

The more pressing fear is that, if Bunning gets out, Paul's money will make a potential candidate like Trey Grayson spend all of his hard-earned donations in the primary. Momentum, by way of running up the score, is essential. This would bring the GOP back to even with the Democrats, robbing them of an advantage they desperately covet.

May 22, 2009

SOURCES: Cathy Bailey close to decision on Senate race

Sources tell KyPolitics.org that Cathy Bailey, the former ambassador and GOP fundraiser, is close to making a decision on entering the race for the Senate seat currently held by Jim Bunning. Bailey is leaning towards running.

A fundraising committee list for potential candidate Trey Grayson, announced by his exploratory committee on Thursday, has done little to dissuade Bailey from making a run, sources say. In fact, the lack of many prominent GOP fundraisers and officials on Grayson's committee has encouraged Bailey.

Aides and supporters of U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell continue to play every side of the developing battle. Some moves by Grayson, including a strange e-mail sent last week that asked recipients for feedback on whether or not he should run, are being questioned and roundly panned. 

McConnell aides see Bailey as an attractive alternative due to her ability to self-fund and her desire to enter the race regardless of whether or not Bunning stays in (Bunning maintains publicly that he's running for a third term, although many believe he will eventually drop out).

UPDATE: A reader messages that cathybailey.org was registered via GoDaddy.com on Wednesday.

May 19, 2009

What a mess

What a mess.

A war of words between Kentucky's two U.S. Senators has spilled onto the national stage. The quarrel is over Jim Bunning's decision to run for reelection. And the results are tragic.

Neither Mitch McConnell nor Bunning -- two of the Kentucky GOP's most accomplished figures -- are living up to their offices and positions in the Republican Party.

Certainly, Bunning deserves better than the silent treatment he's received from McConnell, the public digs he's taken from Mc's minions and the on-again, off-again, behind-the-scenes coup d’état at work. Bunning's 30-plus years of service to the GOP, with a rock-solid conservative voting record to boot, should count for something. 

Mcconnell_bunning But worse than being heartless and rude, McConnell's political play has been ineffective. And, at times, counter-productive. In plain truth, McConnell's support means little politically to Bunning. Withholding support won't make a difference in Bunning's ultimate decision. Instead of making Bunning's call to retire easier, McConnell has helped make it personal -- and a lot more messy. Sadly, sniper-like quotes from McConnell aides in Washington papers have added fuel to the wrong fire: Bunning's fire in the belly to run. They should stop. 

Bunning, too, should show more class. Attacks on McConnell, who has done a solid job as Republican leader in the U.S. Senate during a tough political climate, miss the mark. Bunning knows, more than anyone, how essential McConnell's leadership has been for the GOP in Kentucky -- and in his own political career. Bunning's continued attacks on McConnell only reinforce a caricature of himself that Democrats are all too happy to trace.

Many times, spats like these are forgotten once the dust settles. Unfortunately, this rift looks like it could become a permanent memory. 

Someone needs to extend a hand. At this point, if Bunning gets out, it's because McConnell and the Party kicked him out the door. Great bookend to three decades of public service. Sheesh. 

If Bunning stays in, it's to spite McConnell, with McConnell's leadership and legacy hanging in the balance. And Bunning surely knows how tough this campaign will be, what his chances are and what a loss would mean for McConnell.

How does the story end? Will they fight like children? Or resolve it like senators?

May 15, 2009

Rand Paul announces exploratory committee for Senate run

May 12, 2009

A lot of work to freeze the field

We don't buy the "freeze the field" theory pitched by the media and Trey Grayson cheerleaders.  As in, Jim Bunning is freezing the field so Trey Grayson can run unopposed, or with limited opposition in the Kentucky Senate GOP primary.

If all things were equal in Kentucky politics, it might be the case.  Why else would Bunning give his go ahead to Grayson to start an exploratory committee for his own job?  You know, the job Bunning himself is currently running for?

But all things aren't equal.  And Jim Bunning is, truly, his own man.

Grayson surely left a recent meeting in Washington with Bunning thinking that he had been given a nod and a wink.  But, more likely, Bunning was really just being too good of a friend.  He felt bad for Grayson, working the crowds at Lincoln Day Dinners with no real agenda, to no real end.  But, sorry Trey, I'm still running...

The fundraising, campaigning and political posturing is just too much work and drama -- for Bunning, everyone -- to believe that this is the best, planned route for Bunning's exit and Grayson's launch.  Why ask loyal Kentucky Republicans to give to a campaign you know you won't run?  That's just selfish and wrong. 

It still might play out in Grayson's favor.  Bunning has left himself an out -- he said he would reconsider if fundraising falls short -- and most folks in a position to know are betting he takes it. 

But this can't be the way the two have planned the switcheroo?  Can it?

Long Odds: Fox News weighs in on Kentucky Senate race spectacle

May 10, 2009

Crowley: Bunning intends to keep fighting

The Kentucky Enquirer's Pat Crowley filed the following report from last night's anti-climatic statewide Lincoln Day Dinner:

Bunning intends to keep fighting

LOUISVILLE - Republicans who have been clawing at one another for months over next year's U.S. Senate race put aside their animosity Saturday night and spoke of unity and success during the Republican Party of Kentucky's annual Lincoln Day Dinner.

Jim Bunning made clear that he intends to stay in Kentucky's U.S. Senate race even as some of the party's leaders continue to believe otherwise.

Bunning's speech to a crowd of about 400 was the most anticipated event of the night. There had been speculation that he might announce his retirement or go after fellow Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell for pressuring him to drop his 2010 re-election bid.

But Bunning, of Southgate, known for making bombastic comments, only briefly mentioned his campaign and mainly hammered on President Barack Obama and Congressional Democrats.

"I believe in core conservative values," Bunning said. "That is why I am running for a third term in the United States Senate. I hope and pray I can count on your support.

"The battle is going to be long, but I am prepared to fight for my values," he said. "I hope you are with me."


May 04, 2009

Rand supporters brag: $6 million moneybomb 'all that's needed'

Perhaps the most intriguing U.S. Senate race sideshow: Rand Paul's potential to raise millions overnight for a primary contest against mainstreamer Trey Grayson.

A relative unknown to most GOP voters, Paul attracts a following of thousands on Facebook and other social media.  Backers brag today that Paul could set "set new fundraising records" and that a one-night moneybomb is "all that's needed to conduct a Senate campaign." 

The moneybomb is the successful tactic employed by supporters of Rand's father, Ron, during the 2008 presidential campaign.  It raised as much as $6.6 million in one day.

May 01, 2009

FLASHBACK: Bunning, leaning towards retirement, contemplates his successor

December 3, 2007: Bunning, leaning towards retirement, contemplates his successor


April 12, 2009

STATE OF PLAY: Cross breaks down Senate race

An Easter treat from Louisville Courier-Journal oracle Al Cross: a solid break down of the 2010 Kentucky U.S. Senate race.  

Cross does omit one loud rumor: recent buzz from D.C. circles that former RNC chairman Mike Duncan is eyeing the GOP primary if Bunning drops out, in addition to Trey Grayson and others. 

As Conway announces, Senate race sharpens

FRANKFORT, Ky. -- With Lt. Gov. Dan Mongiardo's strong fund-raising in the year's first quarter and Attorney General Jack Conway's entry on Thursday, the Democratic field for the 2010 U.S. Senate race is now clear.

Much murkier is the Republican field, which now consists only of badly weakened Republican Sen. Jim Bunning. And there are some intriguing questions about the Democratic primary.

Some will be answered Monday, when Conway has his formal announcement and is joined by "Kentucky leaders and some surprise guests," as he put it in his online video Thursday. He already has lined up U.S. Rep. Ben Chandler, state Auditor Crit Luallen and House Speaker Greg Stumbo. The Speaker's support cuts into Mongiardo's Eastern Kentucky base and heals a factional breach with Chandler and Luallen that developed when he was attorney general and Republicans held the governorship in 2003-07.

One question is whether the leaders' alliance with Conway will create factional friction with Gov. Steve Beshear, who has endorsed Mongiardo. No. Beshear issued his endorsement via press release, at a time when it was unlikely to get much attention, and didn't repeat it when Conway got in. Beshear seems to be following the example of the last Democratic governor, Paul Patton, who tepidly endorsed then-Lt. Gov. Steve Henry in the 1998 Senate primary but pretty much stayed out of the fray.

In this case, however, Beshear has exacted a price for his endorsement: Mongiardo won't be his running mate for re-election in 2011. That leaves Luallen as a likely replacement, if she and Beshear can come to an understanding of her role in the job.

The bigger question about the Senate primary is how it will be run. Conway enters as the candidate of the Democratic establishment, and Mongiardo consultant Kim Geveden signaled that their campaign is likely to paint him as a Louisville liberal, a candidate of the elites and the privileged son of a plaintiff's lawyer. Mongiardo, a Hazard physician and former state senator, is the son of immigrants.

"Who are these people? Who do they represent?" Geveden asked. "Can they relate to the hardships and sacrifices that hard-working people are making in this difficult economy and have made over the generations?" And we can expect Mongiardo to target socially conservative Democrats on issues such as guns and same-sex marriage.


March 12, 2009

Public Radio: Honeymoon Ends For Stumbo?

Kentucky Public Radio's Tony McVeigh questions Greg Stumbo's leadership as Speaker so far -- finding several open critics in the state House.  Have a listen:


Click here for a text version of the story.


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