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Will Louisville's Mayor Jump Into Ky.'s '07 Gov. Race?

LOUISVILLE -- Watch the 6 o'clock news here and it seems like every commercial features grainy, black-and-white footage of a politician and an ominous voice denouncing him (or her) as a liberal or a Bush lover. Negativity is the new norm.

Ohio River Ramble

Chris Cillizza

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Chris Cillizza
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So, it comes as something of a surprise when an ad with bright colors, upbeat music and smiling faces pops on screen. It's an ad for Louisville Mayor Jerry Abramson, who is running for reelection. It's not terribly surprising that Abramson's ads are sunny; he is a heavy favorite to retain the office he has held since 1985. He faces only token opposition from Louisville Metro Councilman Kelly Downard (R).

Abramson's ads, a schedule that has taken him all over the state and an aggressive fundraising pace have fueled speculation that the mayor is eyeing a run for governor next year. The hiring of Mark Riddle, a longtime political operative who ran Rep. Ben Chandler's (D) 2003 gubernatorial primary victory, has increased the chatter.

Publicly, Abramson denies any interest in the governor's race, but his actions belie that supposed lack of interest. He has been repeatedly courted to run statewide over his two decades as the head honcho in Louisville, but he has always passed. He may not find that decision as easy next year.

Gov. Ernie Fletcher (R) is in dire political straits, having been indicted earlier in the year on three misdemeanor counts relating to questionable hiring practices in his administration. Fletcher's 2003 running mate -- Lt. Gov. Steve Pence -- has said he will not stand for reelection and is mulling a primary challenge to the incumbent.

Whether Abramson takes the plunge into a statewide race depends heavily on Chandler's political future. After losing to Fletcher in 2003, Chandler bounced back to win a special election to fill the congressional seat Fletcher gave up to run for governor. Chandler is now seen as the leader of Kentucky Democrats and is generally perceived to have the right of first refusal when it comes to the 2007 race. Abramson and Chandler have huddled in recent months and the idea of a Chandler-Abramson ticket has been floated.

Regardless of the identity of the Democratic nominee next year, the Kentucky governor's race will be at the top of the national party's pick-up list.

By Chris Cillizza  |  September 23, 2006; 8:49 AM ET
Categories:  Governors , Ohio River Ramble  
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Next: Indiana's 9th: Democrat Talks Family Values ... And Basketball


The Abramson political ads are true to the Mayor's reputation, but also play into his critics. Abramson has been viewed by many as Louisville's Best Cheerleader, while others say as mayor he has been more of a "Cheerleader" and less of a "Leader". Abramson has created a large bureaucracy of Deputy Mayors and Agency Directors who have historically shouldered the problems and controveries throughout his administration. When heated issues surface in the City, Abramson is usually nowhere to be seen, but is the first in front of the media to accept accolades. Ask the local police and firefighter union opinions of Abramson and you will find that Jerry does not accept criticism well. He certainly does not have the political skill to unite the many political factions across the state. A liberal urban mayor probably would not fair too well for governor across the Biblebelt Commonwealth. I don't think Abramson's inflated ego would allow him to think his current re-election bid would be anything but a cake walk.

Posted by: Louisville Resident | October 5, 2006 11:50 AM | Report abuse

Abramson's tenure as mayor was interrupted when he hit the City of Louisville's term limit of 12 years +1 (for some reason, he got to be mayor an extra year). However, since the city an Jefferson County governments merged, he again became eligible.

Jerry Abramson - "Mayor for Life." Louisville could do certainly do much, much worse than Jerry!

Posted by: Andrew Miller | September 24, 2006 6:06 PM | Report abuse

I read in the Almanac of American Politics that Abramson "let it be known" in December 04 that he had voted for Anne Northup. Wonder if that does him any damage among Dems? I'm sure it can only help him in the general in KY.

To the editors: Can you make Name a required field? I'm sure some people are just forgetting, but all these anonymous comments are getting annoying.

Posted by: Sandwich Repairman | September 24, 2006 2:15 PM | Report abuse

This looks like it might be the Hawaii results page:

Polls close at 6pm Hawaii Time. I forget if that's 4 or 5 hours behind Eastern this time of year...HI being one of the states that doesn't observe Daylight Savings Time.

Posted by: Sandwich Repairman | September 23, 2006 11:20 PM | Report abuse

Anyone here following the results of today's Hawaii Democratic Senate primary??

Posted by: Sandwich Repairman | September 23, 2006 11:10 PM | Report abuse

oops, meant book-COOKERS,
'scuse me Sigmund...

Posted by: Anonymous | September 23, 2006 3:58 PM | Report abuse

"Bush and many Republicans say Social Security is in danger of going bankrupt."

Espcially if THEY have anything to do with it, by golly.

Do we really want the Wall Street book-cokers in charge of our "social security"?

Call it Bush's "Enron Plan for Social Security" maybe thay can get some of those old Enron exec's to run it for us, they'll be back on the job market any year now.

Posted by: JEP | September 23, 2006 3:57 PM | Report abuse

Republicans will revive their effort to overhaul Social Security after the November elections, a "dangerous" plan that would cut benefits to older Americans, the Democratic candidate for a Denver-area House seat said Saturday.

"We can and must stop them -- right now, before it's too late," Ed Perlmutter said in the Democrats' weekly radio address. "Just last year, Democrats stood up to President Bush and the Republicans in Congress, and fought back against this dangerous proposal and defeated it."

Perlmutter, a former Colorado state senator, faces Republican Rick O'Donnell in a fierce contest for a House seat being vacated by Rep. Bob Beauprez, a Republican running for governor.

The suburban district is nearly evenly split between Democrats, Republicans and unaffiliated voters and has many Social Security recipients.

Bush and many Republicans say Social Security is in danger of going bankrupt. The president promoted a complete overhaul last year, proposing private investment accounts for younger workers. The idea died after Democrats attacked the program as a hidden effort to cut future benefits.

GOP 'sending billions' of taxpayers' money to special interests

Perlmutter lodged a similar attack Saturday, arguing that the Republican plan would "threaten senior citizens who worked hard, played by the rules and simply seek to live their golden years with some financial stability and security."

Instead of looking out for taxpayers' interests, Republicans "are sending billions of dollars to special interests in giveaways that taxpayers are paying for," he said.

"There has never been a more critical moment to ensure that we take our nation in a new direction," Perlmutter said.

Perlmutter, 53, has made Social Security a key issue in his race because his opponent, O'Donnell, wrote a paper in 1995 that advocated "slaying" the benefits program. O'Donnell, 36, has since enrolled his mother in Social Security and proposes that experts start from scratch to identify a permanent fix.

--Forget all the talk about 'privatizing' and 'fixing' social security. All republicans have ever wanted is to destroy it, from the very beginning, because they can't stomach the very idea of a program which doesn't result in a profit for someone. They want all taxpayer money going to programs where republican cronies can get rich--that's the real bottom line.

Posted by: drindl | September 23, 2006 2:54 PM | Report abuse

The Cat in the Hat invites all World Leaders to engage in the practical solution of quadratic equations using Roman numerals for the simple reason that he likes a warm little on a cold winter's eve.Once the cryptographers have decyphered this message the President will have the keys to unprescedented geopolitical solutions to the world's problems with the caveat that:ya all gets what youz pays for.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 23, 2006 1:42 PM | Report abuse

Point of clarification: Jerry Abramson wasn't mayor for two years in the early 2000's. However, that was at his choosing, not because he lost a race.

Posted by: DG | September 23, 2006 12:56 PM | Report abuse

This little trip by CC and crew doesn't seem to be working out so well. A great vacation for them but not as much information as I had expected so far. The part of the country you guys are in is very much the conservite with the possible exception of Louisville. I may have missed in your reporting, but others have been linking Anne to DeLay and if this gets any traction it will be bye bye for her. Looking forward to futher reports.

Posted by: lylepink | September 23, 2006 12:13 PM | Report abuse

It isn't just negative advertising -- it's baseless, vicious lies and slander, extremely well financed by rightwing billionaires and bush pioneers, all in cahoots with the RNC. George Soros is a small fish compared to these guys, like Richard Mellon Scaife, whose money goes back to the Gilded Age.

Yet the press cannot find it in its heart to talk about them...

Posted by: Anonymous | September 23, 2006 12:12 PM | Report abuse

"Negativity is the new norm."

Lest we forget, wasn't that CC encouraging the sleaze-ad producers a few days ago on Haardball, noting the success of a campaign where one Republican bully beat up mercilessly on another Republican, who lost apparently because he refused to run negative ads?

Your line "negativity is the new norm" should be a celebration, not a complaint. Sure stirs up those the muddy waters.

But, as with all written words, there is no voice inflection to give us the real meaning so deeply hidden in the ambiuguity of the author's vernacular.

But, lest we think ourselves sudden victims, (surely we are more "constant victims)" consider the same sentence, just remove the word "new."

What is so new about negative advertising being the norm?

Posted by: JEP | September 23, 2006 12:05 PM | Report abuse

Here's some more of that famous 'freedom' and 'democracy' we are bringing to Iraq:

'Bilal Hussein, an Iraqi photographer who helped the Associated Press win a Pulitzer Prize last year, is now in his sixth month in a U.S. Army prison in Iraq. He doesn't understand why he's there, and neither do his AP colleagues.

The Army says it thinks Bilal has too many contacts among insurgents. He has taken pictures the Army thinks could have been made only with the connivance of insurgents. So Bilal himself must be one, too, or at least a sympathizer.

It is a measure of just how dangerous and disorienting Iraq has become that suspicions such as these are considered adequate grounds for locking up a man and throwing away the key.

After more than five months of trying to bring Bilal's case into the daylight, AP is now convinced the Army doesn't care whether Bilal is or isn't an insurgent. The Army doesn't have to care. Bilal is off the street, and the military says it doesn't consider itself accountable to any judicial authority that could question his guilt.

But Bilal's incarceration delivers a further bonus. He is no longer free to circulate in his native Fallujah or in Ramadi, taking photographs that coalition commanders would prefer not to see published.'

Posted by: drindl | September 23, 2006 11:38 AM | Report abuse

Agree with Nor'easter--it takes a little time and depth to a discussion to get whipped into the kind of fury we enjoy so much...

Start watching for increasingly vicious attacks on Dems based on extensive oppo research, of dubious accuracy, Swiftboat style. We already knew it was coming -- Rove publicly announced it. Yesterday was the launch date.

The Republicans want to win so much they are willing to let Iraq go down in flames...James Baker, the bush family fixer, brought in to assess the situation in Iraq, which is currently so volatile it could be irrevocably lost within 90 days [by the estimate of our military]. But Baker's refusing to release the report:

'But no matter how urgent the situation in Iraq, the solutions will have to wait at least until Nov. 8 -- and possibly much later -- because of a more urgent consideration: domestic politics. We're "going to report after the midterm election," Baker announced.

Bill Jones of Executive Intelligence Review asked the obvious question. "The situation in Iraq seems to be degenerating from day to day" and may not be a "salvageable situation" by November, he said. "Shouldn't the urgency be propelled by developments in Iraq rather than the calendar here?"

Baker didn't think so. "We think it's more important, frankly, to make sure whatever we bring forward is taken, to the extent that we can take it, out of domestic politics," he said.

Baker, a troubleshooter for President Bush, said "We have said from Day One that we were going to report after the midterm election." In fact, Baker said on Day One -- the commission's launch on March 15, 2006 -- that "we have not set a time frame" and that "we may come forward with some interim reports."

Posted by: drindl | September 23, 2006 11:28 AM | Report abuse

This was an interesting experiment for the The Fix; but for my money there were too many segments following each other too quickly.

You'll notice that many of those have few posts, while only a few have many posts.

It was worth a try, but I don't think that it works from a blogging perspective. Major threads didn't have time to develop, except in a few cases.

Posted by: Nor'Easter | September 23, 2006 11:04 AM | Report abuse

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