FRANKFORT — Good morning, winners and losers. Hope I'm one of the former, but I usually end up among the latter. Oh, well, time to put the 141st Kentucky Derby and all the associated partying (and subsequent hangovers) behind us and get back to reality.
Reality in Kentucky at the moment includes a Republican gubernatorial primary that, while nowhere near as entertaining as a normal Derby weekend, keeps providing us a few fun moments. Fun for the masses at least, if not so much for a couple of the candidates.
For instance, there's the video clip Citizens for Sound Government, a group backing former Louisville Metro Council member Hal Heiner, used to criticize state Agriculture Commissioner James Comer for voting to increase legislative pensions 10 years ago when he was a member of the House of Representatives.
It showed Comer responding to a question about his vote by spending what must have been for him a painfully long time shaking his head and exhibiting a couple of priceless facial expressions while saying, "Well, you know, there, there's, it's, the, uh" before concluding, "That was a, clearly a bad vote."
Jamie, Jamie, Jamie. (Pardon me for reverting to the name we all used before you first ran for statewide office, but I've known you as Jamie for years.) You had to know this question would be asked. How could you not be prepared to explain yourself without an embarrassing "Well, you know ..." intro guaranteed to prompt chuckling among all but your staunchest supporters?
For his part, Comer recently has criticized Heiner for getting support and fund-raising help from members of former Gov. Ernie Fletcher's administration who were indicted or named unindicted co-conspirators for violations of the merit system protecting state workers from being hired or fired for political reasons.
Fletcher, who was also indicted, granted a blanket pardon to members of his administration before cutting a deal with then-Attorney General Greg Stumbo to have the charges against himself dropped.
"If it weren't for some of those people that hosted that fund-raiser for you last week, we wouldn't have Steve Beshear as governor," Comer told Heiner in a recent debate.
I must confess the fun here is more personal than widespread.
Comer may or may not be right about Beshear not being governor now if folks around Fletcher had been more circumspect in regard to the merit system, because what I dubbed at the time as Fletcher's BlackBerry Jam (due to the electronic trail of evidence left by his aides' personal digital assistants) was just the biggest of his administration's myriad screw-ups.
Which is why the Fletcher administration days were the funniest of times for curmudgeonly columnists (particularly compared to Beshear, who can be rather dull to cover). Never a lack of inspiration for snarky columns. So, if Heiner becomes governor and brings former members of Fletcher's klutzy Kiddie Korps back to town, I may be tempted to extend semi-retirement beyond my previous plans.
But the most promising prospect for more immediate fun stems from the connections between blogger Michael Adams and KC Crosbie, Heiner's running mate.
For months, Adams has been accusing Comer of physically assaulting a woman back in his college days, without much in the way of proof, it must be noted. For months, he also has been exchanging emails with Crosbie and her husband, Scott, about his blog posts and his support for the Heiner campaign.
While Heiner apologized to Comer for any role his campaign had in this complicated hot mess, the episode taints both candidates.
Comer because, even without substantiation, the allegations have now reached the mainstream media. Heiner because it makes his running mate, if not himself, look complicit in the lowest form of smear campaigns.
All of which must have Louisville businessman Matt Bevin smiling 24/7.
Sorry, former Supreme Court Justice Will T. Scott. Although you've played "Mr. Nice Guy" in this campaign while the other candidates have been beating up on each other, you're still trailing the pack.
On the other hand, Bevin, despite also being subjected to attacks from the pro-Heiner Citizens for Sound Government, has turned this primary into a three-way dead heat according to what I'm hearing about recent polling.
Perhaps because his television ads have been far superior to anything Comer, Heiner or the groups supporting each of them have aired. Or perhaps because those two are so focused on destroying each other, they've forgotten they aren't the only ones in this race.
Whatever the reason, Bevin for the moment appears to be in the best position to take advantage of any more "fun moments" Comer and Heiner bring to this campaign.
Reach Larry Dale Keeling at firstname.lastname@example.org.