Ernie Fletcher’s First Commercial

You’ve seen Steve Beshear’s first. Now watch Ernie Fletcher’s first commercial of the general election campaign, set to air tomorrow.

Starts out with ominous footage of a couple rundown casinos and sad-looking elderly individuals at slot machines. Is this pandering or the beginning of a real fight?

Would be interesting to know where this footage was taken. Fill us in if you know.

Living in Poverty

Poverty in Kentucky - MapWe’re map geeks at Page One. What do maps have to do with living in poverty? Well, while wasting countless hours looking through graphical analysis I stumbled upon something that hits home here in the Bluegrass State. It’s a map at Social Explorer (choose Poverty from the middle drop down menu) detailing the percentage of the population living in poverty (rather, all 120 counties in Kentucky along with the % of their population living in poverty). The map was created based on the latest census data so take it with a grain of salt. Reality is likely a bit darker.

Poverty - Front PorchLooking at the poorest region of Kentucky, the Appalachians of the east, one really has to question why neither of our two gubernatorial candidates are actively discussing ways to improve the situation, nor are they making poverty a centerpiece of their campaigns. A quick search of Beshear’s website reveals only a few instances of the term ‘poverty’ and there is only one instance on Fletcher’s.

What does this mean for the future of the Commonwealth?

Read moreLiving in Poverty

Non-Partisan Group Turns Up the Heat

Saturday, non-partisan group Change for Kentucky hosted houseparties all across the state. Their purpose? To introduce individuals not typically political to the slate of Steve Beshear and Daniel Mongiardo.

The gatherings, while not organized with raising funds in mind, turned up several low-dollar donations. According to the group’s leader, Mike Bailey, “these new donors will now follow the news, pay more attention to campaign commercials, and discuss the campaign with their friends because they’ve invested themselves.” This new-ish strategy of direct campaigning and raising unitemized contributions has become key to developing a strong grassroots base.

We may be wrong, but it’s been a while since we’ve seen the other side of the aisle try to motivate voters on such a personal level. Perhaps all parties and candidates should take note in order to begin making politics about the people they’re meant to represent.

Beshear’s First Ad in the General Election

Not too hard-hitting. Will they turn up the heat? Speaks of change and cleaning Frankfort up. Interesting that there’s no mention or appearance of Dan Mongiardo, his running mate.

Is this version unique to the Louisville media market? Surely they’re capitalizing on Mongiardo elsewhere.

See it for yourself and share what you think.

View a non-YouTube version of the commercial after the jump

Read moreBeshear’s First Ad in the General Election

Where there’s smoke…

For as long as there have been politicians in Kentucky, there’s been a powerful lobbying faction working for tobacco farmers. Tobacco farmers have prospered, tobacco interests have profited, and tobacco users have been dying for decades.

Smoker - KentuckyCigarette sales flourish in Kentucky, which ranks first or second in every study ranking states by per capita rates for lung cancer and other smoking-related deaths. Two years ago, Kentucky’s legislature passed an increase on cigarette taxes, lifting the state out of last place by boosting the tax from three cents to 30 cents.

The adversity faced by tobacco interests has never been stronger than it is today, and their ability to hold politicians accountable to them is wavering. Earlier this month, a pair of Kentucky congressmen voted for a 45-cent national tax on cigarettes in Congress. Ben Chandler, whose district represents many of those farmers, apparently felt the virtues of the Children’s Health and Medicare Protection Act outweighed the risks at home of voting against big tobacco.

Read moreWhere there’s smoke…

Back in the Game

I came late to the journalism party. Days after my 36th birthday, I reported for my first day of work at a real newspaper – Business First of Louisville.

So it’s been a decade since I first felt the adrenaline rush of breaking a news story, of beating the competition (at that time, the Courier-Journal), of seeing my name on Page One of the paper. There was a surprising thrill to painting a picture in words of a conflict that the subjects didn’t want to see in the paper.

After nearly four years, I left for what I thought were greener pastures in the dot-com world. But that’s another story for another day.

Read moreBack in the Game