Chris Thieneman is Getting Away For a While

Chris Thieneman’s whirlwind journey through the local political scene isn’t over, but when I talked with him last night he sounded like someone ready for a break.

To recap: Just 20 days ago, Thieneman surprised most local political observers by declaring himself a Republican candidate for John Yarmuth’s 3rd District Congressional seat, not the 14th District Metro Council seat some thought he could realistically win. On Jan. 25, he launched his campaign at a South End Louisville bingo hall. He caused a stir three days later, just before the filing deadline, by asserting on WHAS Radio that the local Republican Party, on orders from Sen. Mitch McConnell, was discouraging him from running. On Jan. 31, he returned to the radio airwaves to announce he was dropping out of the race, citing pressure from a McConnell operative. He said he’d support Democrat John Yarmuth against Anne Northup, and blasted his party, saying he was getting out.

More after the jump…

Read moreChris Thieneman is Getting Away For a While

Thieneman Felt “Heavy Pressure” from Mitch

Saying he was now ready to “fight a different fight,” Chris Thieneman said today that he felt that we was under “heavy pressure” to back out of his run for the Republican nomination for the 3rd Congressional District.

Thieneman told me that “someone in Mitch McConnell’s inner circle” told him that the Senator had made it clear who his choice was in the race. He summarized what McConnell expressed to his aide this way:

“There is no way that Chris Thieneman is going to win this primary. Anne Northup is my pawn from now on.”

Thieneman added that McConnell aide Larry Cox had left him a message with instructions to talk with him before he went on WHAS Radio again. That may have been the straw that motivated Thieneman, who was born and raised a Democrat but switched parties, to announce on WHAS this morning that not only is he dropping out of the race, but that he’s leaving the Republican Party.

“It was like when you prepare for a football game and walk on the field ready to go, and then your own teammates start hitting you,” he said.

Thieneman said he was prepared to put $250,000 of his own money into the race. This experience has soured him on the Republican Party, but not politics in general.

“I will still fight any politician that I know is doing the community an injustice,” he said.

BREAKING: Thieneman Drops out, Endorses Yarmuth

It’s true, folks. Chris Thieneman just announced via the Francene show on 84WHAS radio that he is dropping out of the Congressional race and endorsing John Yarmuth.

Stay tuned to this developing story.

UPDATE @ 11:30:

Joe Gerth has more on the story.

Developer Chris Thieneman said this morning that he is dropping out of the 3rd District Republican primary, becoming a Democrat and endorsing Rep. John Yarmuth’s re-election bid in the race.

Both Northup and McConnell have denied trying to influence Thieneman.

As proof of that coercion, Thieneman played a voice mail message from Larry Cox, McConnell’s top aide in Kentucky, in which Cox urged Thieneman to call him.

Stay tuned for Rick’s update and interview with Chris later today.

Breaking: Ron Lewis Dropped Out

For realz. Republican Ron Lewis just DROPPED OUT of the KY-02 House Race.

WHAT on earth!?

That leaves two Democrats and two Republicans.

  • David E. Boswell – Democrat
  • Reid Haire – Democrat
  • Daniel London – Republican
  • S. Brett Guthrie – Republican

So… looks like Kentucky’s second congressional district will land in Democratic hands in 2008. Not even Daniel London, Lewis’s Chief of Staff, can pull this one off.

UPDATE: Jim Pence must be jumping for joy right now.

Whitfield Gets an Opponent

A familiar face at that. Heather Ryan, the young woman who videotaped her encounter with Sen. Mitch McConnell in Paducah just days ago has announced her candidacy against the First U.S. Congressional District’s Ed Whitfield (Republican).

While Heather may not have a shot in the dark, it’s always nice when any a politician draws opposition. Allowing a candidate to run unopposed is a bad move in our book.

How do you feel about it? What’s your take? Does this remove any shred of credibility Ryan had in her claims against McConnell? Will it be chalked up to a publicity stunt? And what makes her qualified to receive our support?

We’d like to hear what you have to say.

Thieneman and Francene Take on the Party

UPDATE 11:20 A.M. — Thieneman called back to respond to the show’s comments — and confirm that he was threatened by Northup through Seum. “I called it a threat because that’s what it was, a threat.” He called the party leaders, in particular Jack Richardson, “unethical.” Republicas who deny their threats are “lying.”

The conversation is lively this morning on Francene’s radio show on WHAS, where the radio host tried to pin some prominent Republicans down on their recent actions:

Jack Richardson, chairman of Louisville’s Republican party, called in to respond to Chris Thieneman‘s charges that folks in the Anne Northup and Mitch McConnell camps discouraged him from running. Thieneman charged that some Republicans were telling him not to run for the 3rd District Congressional seat now occupied by Dem. Rep. John Yarmuth.

Richardson ran into a hailstorm of criticism from the radio show host when he said the party does indeed discourage some candidates from running in primaries. Francene, rightly, thinks that’s the wrong way to operate, that anyone who wants to run in a primary should not face opposition from the party hierachy.

“You don’t know the political system that well, because you always want to put forth the best people,” Richardson said.

Read moreThieneman and Francene Take on the Party