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Team Bevin on March 8th ballot
Cartoon from "Watching Matt Fail" on Facebook

I went to the Kentucky secretary of state's webpage and clicked on "March 8, 2016 Special Election."

I found the names of eight candidates, Barack Obama not among them. But you wouldn't know that from ads Republicans are running against the four Democrats.

One ad calls them "Team Obama."

I know at least one of the candidates is proud he voted for Obama. But who these Democrats backed for president is beside the point.

This election is for four seats in the Kentucky House of Representatives, not the U.S. House of Representatives. The winners will be going to Frankfort, not Washington.

Maybe Obama isn't popular in Kentucky. But it looks like Republican Gov. Matt Bevin isn't either, which is why the GOP might be extra anxious to link Democratic hopefuls to the president in these elections.

There seems to be a rising tide of buyer's remorse against the tea party governor. I expect to see "Don't Blame Me, I Voted for Jack Conway" bumper stickers any day now.

Anyway, this quartet of elections just a few days away will determine if the House stays Democratic or becomes a 50-50 tie.

So if I were the Democrats, I'd put out ads describing the four Republicans as "Team Bevin" because they're in his corner.

I'd boil the elections down to a simple sentence: "If you like what Gov. Bevin is doing, vote Republican on March 8."

A Democratic House is all that stands between Kentuckians and Bevin's slash-and-burn budget. The Senate is Republican.

Almost daily, we learn more about the devil that's in the details of his budget. Here's a sampling:

Murray State University's WKMS-FM public radio (Feb. 24): "Kentucky faces a potential 'constitutional crisis' if the court system undergoes budget cuts as proposed by Gov. Matt Bevin, says chief justice of the state Supreme Court.

"Bevin's proposed budget cuts nearly all state spending by 4.5 percent this year and 9 percent over the next two years.

"Chief Justice Minton on Tuesday told legislators that the Judicial Branch will be unable to perform necessary functions under the cuts and would have to shut down for three weeks during this fiscal year."

Louisville Courier-Journal (Feb. 8): "Kentucky State University's president said that funding cuts proposed by Gov. Matt Bevin could be so crippling to the school that it could have to declare a financial crisis or prepare a closure plan.

"'I do not like either one of those options and I am working hard to make certain we can do our work smarter, logically and effectively to ensure that Kentucky State University is here for another 130 years,' President Raymond Burse said in a letter dated Monday to university stakeholders.

"But Burse said the historically black university 'cannot withstand' Bevin's proposed budget, which includes a 4.5 percent reduction for the remainder of this fiscal year for most government agencies, followed by a 9 percent cut in the first year of the biennium.

Lexington Herald-Leader (Feb. 24) : "Midyear budget cuts proposed by Gov. Matt Bevin could have 'devastating' effect on Fayette County Public Schools, officials and board members said this week.

"In Bevin's recent budget proposal, he said state agencies would have to cut 4.5 percent, which in the Kentucky Department of Education works out to be about $17.9 million, from its current-year spending before June 30. Bevin later said he is giving agencies leeway in the timing of the cuts.

"In addition to those cuts this fiscal year, Kentucky Education Commissioner Stephen Pruitt has said that if Bevin's proposed budget is approved by the General Assembly, the Department of Education will face $72 million in reductions over the next two fiscal years."

University of Kentucky student newspaper Kentucky Kernel (Feb. 25): "More than 200 students from Murray State University and other Kentucky colleges rallied on the doorsteps of the state Capitol on Thursday to protest Gov. Matt Bevin's statewide budget cuts.

"The group arrived in Frankfort around 7 a.m. and stayed until about 3 p.m. with different students and Kentucky legislators dropping in throughout the day.

"Theater senior from Murray State, Katherine Summerfield, started the Facebook page for the event because she said her entire department could 'disappear' as a result of the baseline 9 percent budget cuts that could lead to an increase in tuition at public universities like Murray State and UK."

Louisville WAVE -TV (Feb. 19): "The Jefferson County Public Schools system is lashing out against Kentucky's new governor over proposed budget cuts.

"In a letter sent to staff members JCPS is urging its employees to contact their representatives in Frankfort to take action against a 4.5 percent budget cut to the state's education system being proposed by Governor Matt Bevin.

"JCPS says the district could lose out on more than $3 million in funding next year if the budget is approved.

"'We want to keep every teacher that we have and we want to keep every bus driver that we have, so the funds are so incredibly important, to not just the Jefferson County Public Schools system, but to public school systems across the state,'" spokesperson Allison Martin said."

In any event, Barack Obama has nothing to do with these special elections and the GOP knows it. These elections have everything to do with Matt Bevin, and the Republicans know that, too.

Given the buyer's remorse that seem to be building, it's easy to see why the Republicans would rather John and Jane Q Citizen focus on the guy in the White House and not the guy in the governor's mansion come March 8.


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