FACT: A key plank of the Beshear-Mongiardo campaign is to quit the economic incentive giveaway game (aka corporate welfare) for out-of-state business. From Beshear’s Web site:
“It is time we shift our economic development approach away from luring out-of-state businesses and industries that don’t need help with the promise of tax reductions, abatements and direct grants, and instead grow our economy from within, putting Kentucky businesses first.”
So why is Beshear staying silent while the Special Session plays out in Frankfort, while Fletcher dominates the free media with his economic incentive plan for Peabody Coal? Why isn’t Beshear cozying up to the environmentalists and the few legislators who oppose the incentives?
For one, Beshear also touts the development of clean coal on his priority list as governor, with a goal of making Kentucky “the clean coal capital of the world.”
As for political strategy, Fletcher’s folks are adept at dominating the free media landscape, even when it comes to publicizing paid media. Even though state media outlets trumpeted Beshear’s move to start airing TV commercials first on Monday, Fletcher has dominated the free airwaves since with his magical mystery tour of casino cities. Everyone wants to know: Where’s Ernie?
It’s hard to imagine Fletcher attacking a real town that’s been hurt by casinos. It won’t be Elizabeth, Ind., across the Ohio from Louisville, where the biggest controversies of the last year involved a urine-soaked seat and a malfunctioning slot machine giving away cash. Meanwhile, the casino provided Harrison County with $25 million in revenue in 2005.
Maybe in Fletcher’s dreamy tour, he went to fictional locales (instead of Aurora, IL). Maybe the mystery city is the Hill Valley of 2015 dominated by Biff Tannen in “Back to the Future II.” Or maybe he visited the set of HBO’s Big Love, where the polygamist Henrickson family has discovered the one industry it can diversify into that won’t pass judgment on its lifestyle. Wouldn’t the hypocrites in the Fletcher camp love to associate gaming with sex?
In the real world, Fletcher seems to be backing himself into a corner, setting up an expectation that some river city rife with prostitution and crime will prove his point on the evils of gambling. But for now, he’s winning the free media game by putting the gambling issue first in voters’ minds. Leaving us wondering why Beshear isn’t changing the subject.