LEO Follows up With Heather Ryan

LEO’s Stephen George (who consistently goes the distance in the name of journalism– not just politically) went a little further than most mainstream press outlets in Kentucky in telling the story of Heather Ryan, the young mother who claims she was fired after confronting Senator Mitch McConnell at a Paducah commercial taping.

More on Ryan here, here and here.

From LEO:

Ryan has alleged that pressure from McConnell about this money, and how close an avid war protestor stood to its destination, played a part in her demise.

It was during that meeting — which she taped… — that board chairman Siska implied that McConnell’s staff wanted her gone.

“What they were thinking was that an employee from the building was doing this, and that concerned them because they have a connection to the building,” Siska said at the meeting. “… That someone would feel so negatively towards the Senator coming from this building. That’s what surprised them.”

“I’m confused about their concern,” Ryan replied. “Are they concerned because they thought I was a threat, or are they concerned because —”

“The way it was told to me is, they were shocked at the hatred that they felt coming from your daughter,” he said.

What was that about McConnell’s people not meddling in this mess again?

Read the rest in this week’s LEO…

Kentucky AARP Members Get Testy

Diane Brumback has a great story about 200 Kentucky AARP members standing up to the governor and his staff. The group claims Steve Beshear turned his back on them and their fire was fueled with high-level staff accusations of heckling.

Seems like there was a lot of confusion coupled with misunderstanding. For the most part tensions were cooled a bit when the governor appeared but tempers are still hot.

There’s a lot to be said for a sitting governor to invite an entire group of individuals to the governor’s mansion to heal potential wounds.

I was told that specifically Steve Nunn, Ellen Heser and Vince Gabbard of Beshear’s administration came to the group prior to the speech asking them, “Are you here to heckle or to support the Governor?”

According to the members, they responded that they were scheduled to meet with Beshear.

Read the full story– complete with photographs– at Kentucky Women.

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.

Democratic Establishment Steps In It

Because Bruce Lunsford says he’s not going to spend his millions on the U.S. Senate race. That’s what he says, anyway.

Also unlike Lunsford’s past races, he is unlikely to pump millions of dollars into his own campaign. He spent $8 million in 2003 — a race against Chandler that got so contentious that Lunsford dropped out four days before the election. Last year, he dished out roughly $6 million more.

But the U.S. Senate race has a threshold of $560,000 in the general election by which a “millionaire’s amendment” would kick in and allow the opponent to raise three to six times the $2,300 maximum contribution for an individual.

Wasn’t Lunsford’s money the reason the establishment pressured him to get into the race? Just wondering. Because it’s the only thing Steve Beshear, Chuck Schumer, Harry Reid, Jennifer Moore, Nathan Smith and others have used in their ardent behind-the-scenes support of his candidacy. So what gives?

It certainly can’t be anything but money and established name I.D. If for no other reason than because Bruce brings with him a tremendous amount of baggage. (Fendi and Prada bags, but baggage nonetheless. A lady’s gotta look her best, you know.)

Could name I.D. be as strong as the DSCC has pressured many into believing? We’re not certain. But four (yes, four unconnected individuals) reliable sources have shared with us similar name I.D./polling information about the three front-runners in the race. Three out of the four provided us with the following poll results:

Poll results and more after the jump…

Read more…

Oh Snap. Almost Groundhog Day Update.

Mike Weaver, failed candidate for congress and state treasurer, has filed for his old State House seat. Mark Hebert reports that Weaver says he’s running for state office again because he’s too old to serve in the military. If Weaver has a gay campaign manager this time, will he allow him to produce weird gay-baiting/gay-hating campaign commercials at the last minute and then refuse to return contributions to pissed off people in Louisville? [Hebert]

Even more on the decision by the Most Reverend Ron Lewis to drop out of KY-02’s House race so he could coronate his chief of staff. But the NRSC will have none of that business, boys and girls. No sir. Reverend Ron is a bad, bad boy.[H-L]

Bruce Lunsford is still saying he’s afraid of the millionaires’ amendment and won’t contribute more than $560,000 of his own money toward the senate race. Isn’t that something we brought up a few weeks ago with Fischer? And you wonder why we say these rich guys are ineffective. [C-J]

Greg Fischer attacks Bruce Lunsford in an email “interview” with the AIPAC blogger. Check it out: “One thing is for sure, you’ll never see me on YouTube with Mitch McConnell and Ernie Fletcher :)” [Solzman]

And in case you weren’t paying attention, the state house passed an ethics bill. David Williams says the senate will make the bill stronger. So. We’re waiting to see if public trust is ever restored in gubmint. Are you holding your breath? [C-J]

Oh, and the bully bill passed. No one paid attention. It requires all schools to develop reporting and punishment programs for bullying in school. Hebert reminds readers that the bill was a failure in 2006 because everyone was afraid the gays would use provisions to punish some fringe Christian students who believe we should burn in hell for our sins, etc. [Hebert]

Mitch McConnell is screwing up the FEC. After weeks of bitching and moaning he’s obstructing up/down votes on potential nominees. Isn’t this what we’ve come to expect from Kentucky’s senator? He wouldn’t be so hated if he didn’t pull idiotic crap like this all the time. [NYT]

Andrew Horne’s campaign releases limited information about his stances on issues including gun ownership, jobs, social security and the economy. It seems only a fringe candidate on the Democratic side seems to understand the importance of making positions public. [Horne Camp]