Beyond the meager 18% name I.D. Greg Fischer’s $500,000 has bought him, not everything in the press is positive these days.
A Paducah Sun editorial literally takes Fischer to the woodshed and indicates just how far from ready-for-office Fischer he is.
While the Sun may not be a favorite publication of Democrats, there’s no denying the huge readership the paper has in western regions of the state. This can’t be good for Fischer no matter how you cut it.
Fischer launches unfair attacks against Lunsford (subscription only)
Greg Fischer has taken a page out of Hillary Clinton’s playbook.
Fischer, one of seven candidates vying for the Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate, has unleashed an unfair and inaccurate attack on primary opponent Bruce Lunsford, a fellow zillionaire Fischer regards as the only other serious contender for the seat.
The TV ad unveiled last week portrays Lunsford as an evil nursing home owner who kicked out Medicaid patients to make room for private-pay residents. Although there were abuses within the company, there is no evidence that Lunsford himself was aware of it until after the fact.
The reality is, Lunsford’s business model failed when the federal government altered the way it reimbursed Medicaid in the late 1990s. The small company Lunsford started in 1985 had grown to include nearly 300 nursing homes in 31 states and more than 50 hospitals in 23 states when it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 1999. The government-created crisis that killed Vencor hit health providers coast to coast.
Read the rest of this scathing indictment after the jump…
Defending the attack ad in Lone Oak Friday, Fischer said the Republican candidate, incumbent Sen. Mitch McConnell, can be expected to launch these kinds of attacks in the fall and the Democratic Party needs to be prepared. It sounds like the rationale Hillary’s camp has used in its attack ads against Barack Obama — “We’re not going negative; we’re just showing what to expect from Republicans in the fall.”
Fischer said bluntly, “It’s not negative. It’s truth.”
Wrong and wrong again. It is negative, and it’s a version of the truth so selective as to be misleading.
Fischer is actually repeating the strategy of Ben Chandler in the 2003 Democratic gubernatorial primary. Chandler released similar attack ads against Lunsford, one of his primary opponents in that race, forcing Lunsford out of the race. After Chandler won the nomination, Lunsford supported the Republican, Ernie Fletcher, who went on to victory in the general election. Lunsford then headed Fletcher’s transition team.
It was this betrayal of the party rather than the Vencor scandal that soured many diehard Democrats on Lunsford.
Former Gov. John Y. Brown Jr. has issued a statement condemning Fischer’s attack ads. Fischer’s father, George Fischer, was secretary of Brown’s cabinet, and Lunsford served as secretary of commerce in the Brown administration. Brown praised both the senior Fischer and Lunsford for their “extraordinary careers in public service.” But Brown calls the junior Fischer’s new ad “slander” and “nothing more than a character assassination of Bruce Lunsford that gives an untruthful and misleading impression of Lunsford’s career and integrity.”
Brown admonishes Fischer, “Win with honor or don’t offer yourself to public service.”
In an editorial board meeting at The Paducah Sun in March, Fischer told us the Democratic primary was really just a race between him and Lunsford, the two self-funded candidates. Fischer said his own “clean” (unspoiled by cooperation with Republicans) Democratic record along with Lunsford’s “checkered” past in business made him, Fischer, the only viable candidate.
But what stood out in that interview was Fischer’s thin grasp of the issues.
For example, he said he frequently hears from Kentuckians who say America must become energy independent, so he has made that a priority in his campaign. But when we asked how we can become energy independent, the best he could offer was that he possessed the leadership skills to facilitate the process for finding solutions. We pressed the issue — what did the candidate see as likely measures for achieving the goal? He said he hadn’t thought it through, but “encouraging conservation” and “providing incentives for private industry” might be part of the strategy.
Incentives to do what? Well, he hadn’t really formulated the policy details yet. And Encouraging conservation will lead to energy independence? Maybe in the Land of Happy Thoughts, but not in the real world.
Another on his short list of priorities is to close the income gap. When we asked if that is the role of the federal government, he admitted the question hadn’t occurred to him before.
He wants to represent Kentucky in the United States Senate, yet he has not come up with any policy proposals to address what he considers priority issues.
It would be hard to imagine a candidate for whom the gap is so vast between his readiness and the requisite skills of the office he seeks. But in one respect, he’s already an old pro: he knows how to use attack ads.
Greg Fischer’s strategy will hurt him as much as Lunsford, and the beneficiary will be Mitch McConnell.