Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear is seeking re-election. Republican Senate President David Williams hopes to limit Beshear to one term and move into the Governor's Mansion himself.
The clash of these conflicting ambitions could make the 30-day 2011 General Assembly session entertaining — the way a circus or a slapstick comedy routine can be entertaining.
Unfortunately, the same clash could prevent the session from being very productive.
Williams recently unveiled Senate Republicans' agenda, which gave off a strong aroma of gubernatorial politics.
For instance, the Arizona-style immigration legislation he's pushing is his carefullly calculated way of tossing red meat to the Tea Partiers he hopes to win over in the Republican primary.
Another Republican proposal obviously designed to impact the 2011 gubernatorial race has much more merit.
Legislative ethics laws bar lawmakers or legislative candidates from accepting campaign contributions from lobbyists. But no such ban applies to statewide elected officials, which leaves Beshear free to raise money from the same lobbyists who are prohibited from contributing to Williams.
Senate Republicans want to level that playing field by extending the ban to all elected officials — and rightly so.
As might be expected, House Democrats have a different set of priorities, including a completely unnecessary constitutional amendment protecting the rights of people who hunt and fish.
Who in their right mind would ever imagine hunting and fishing rights being endangered in Kentucky?
A Democratic proposal to require prescriptions for pseudoephedrine, a key ingredient of methamphetamine, is much more laudable, given the epidemic of meth use in Kentucky.
For now, Beshear seems to be focused on filling the hole in the Medicaid budget and raising the school dropout age from 16 to 18. He deserves legislative support for both.
Unfortunately, a couple of important issues that seem to have been pending forever don't show up on any of these agendas: capping payday lending interest at 36 percent, and extending domestic violence protection to dating couples.
Add those two to a strengthening of ethics rules, prescriptions for pseudoephedrine, balancing the Medicaid budget and raising the dropout age; and the 2011 session could be very productive — assuming gubernatorial politics don't turn it into a circus or a slapstick routine.