Strange Bedfellows

With apologies to my distant readers, it’s time for another chapter of Kentucky politics. While the rest of the country is dithering about a Presidential election next year, we have a gubernatorial election this year. Maybe smaller stakes, but at least we know who our candidates are, unless some of them drop out or get indicted. As some readers know, I have a friend running in this election. Since politicians are taking advantage of web tools like Myspace to attract the younger voters (or those of us who pretend to be young), I thought Steve might have joined the trend. His campaign manager ran Barack Obama’s Senate campaign, so I assume he’s up on all the latest buzz.

I checked Myspace to see if he had a page there that I could add to my own space. I was somewhat surprised to find that he doesn’t have a MySpace site, although he does have one on Facebook, which reaches a much smaller audience. But I was amused to see what Myspace showed me when I searched. I got a page which told me there was no Steve Beshear in Myspace, but it had a “sponsored link” to the campaign website of one of his opponents, Bruce Lunsford. The Lunsford folks apparently bought keyword advertising so searches for their opponents would direct people to their site. Clever.

I assumed that Steve wasn’t the only candidate whose searches were being hijacked, and I was right. I searched for a couple of others with the same result. What really amused me was when I searched for Ernie Fletcher, and got this page with a link to Fletcher’s Myspace and a “sponsored link” to Lunsford’s site. (Note: I’m providing screenshots here instead of links to the actual Myspace pages because Myspace can get a little unpredictable and I wasn’t sure linking to search results would work consistently).

I’m sure local folks realize why I get a kick out of a search for Ernie Fletcher providing a link to Lunsford. But just in case any aliens are still reading, I’ll spell it out.

Fletcher is our incumbent Republican governor, running for re-election. Lunsford is a Democrat who would like to take his job away from him. Four years ago, Fletcher was a Republican candidate running for his first term as governor, and Lunsford was a Democrat who wanted to keep that job away from him. But then things took an interesting turn.

Despite dumping millions of his own dollars into his campaign, Lunsford was doing poorly in the primary. So he did what any spoiled egotistical multimillionaire would do. He dropped out of the primary, and then threw his support to Republican Fletcher in the general election, to spite the Democratic candidate who had been beating him in the primary.

That treachery did not win Lunsford many friends in the Democratic party. But now he’s back, telling us we should vote for him because the current governor, the one he helped elect, is a major league sleazeball.

To be fair, he’s right about Fletcher being a sleazeball. And he’s not the only Former Friend of Fletcher to abandon him. Even his own party is dumping him. It’s highly unusual for a sitting governor to be challenged within his party in the primary. Fletcher has two challengers in the Republican primary, one of whom has a fairly good shot at beating him.

But we expect disloyalty and backstabbing from Republicans. We don’t forgive it in Democrats. After helping Fletcher get elected, it takes a lot of nerve for Lunsford to tell us we should elect him to correct that mistake. That’s why Lunsford needs to hope some Democrats have short memories, and that’s why I think it’s amusing to see him and Fletcher linked on Myspace that way.

I’m sure there will be many more reminders of his blasphemy, which will be far less subtle than this. There is lots of Fletcher 2003 campaign propaganda available, with pictures and video of Lunsford’s endorsement. But the amusing thing about this one is that Lunsford is actually paying for it. Paying to have his name linked to Fletcher’s just doesn’t seem like a brilliant move.

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