Governor Matt Bevin at 2016 Fancy Farm Picnic.
Will Governor Bevin keep control of Kentucky politics and political power in Frankfort until 2019?
The answer is a "resounding YES!"
Kentucky politics is like a poker game where one side has almost all of the major cards in their hands. At this writing, Governor Bevin has all the aces and kings of the political deck in his hand.
Most of the citizens of Kentucky have little understanding or direct knowledge of who, what, and how a Governor's Office functions.
(1) State Spokesperson: First of all, the governor's office is the primary center of power in Kentucky. This office has the Chief State Spokesperson who speaks for the entire state on many issues and policies.
(2) Vision Setter: The governor's office is the place a state vision is born. It is the duty of a sitting Governor to "dream" of what the state can do in the future. This process is called "designing the future of Kentucky."
(3) Chief Administrator: By state law and tradition, the governor must be the chief administrator for the entire Kentucky State Government. This means laying claim to and making the system work. Presently there are some 40,000 state workers located in 14 Cabinets.
Under this power is the ability to appoint to and staff over all the independent Boards and Commissions. This adds another 3,000 individuals who will become political appointees.
(4) Chief Legislative Negotiator: Again by state law and tradition, it is the role of the Governor to deal with, negotiate, and lead the legislature in their control of the state budget and overseer of executive actions and policies.
(5) State Political Party Leader: Kentucky is a state that at times seems to be ungovernable. With 120 counties and hundreds of small towns, a fractured news media, political and policy leadership is an act of small daily miracles.
Yet, it is up to the governor to speak for his party. At times he will have to provide "hard muscle" to enforce his political decisions. His political power comes from (A) last election numbers of won or lost by county and region (B) ability to "bluff" his way over controlling a crisis or political power opening, and C) his ability to control the media message of his actions or party.
Power always demands action.
Political power is worse in that it is always in play. Political power demands attention to the details of the least and most in our society. True the poor and middle class among the population have a voice in what is to be public policy. However, it is the elite that determine the timing and power of that voice to be allowed power.
Governor Bevin must walk a fine line between the rich and poor in Kentucky if he wants a second term.
So far he is getting his way because the opposition to him and his party is scattered and confused. He wins by default because he holds the cards of power described above.