Off The Record: Forecasts from the cracked crystal ball

November 03, 2003|HERB BROCK

Don't you think Ralph Nader has done a great job as president? How about the wonderful work that Gov. Peppy Martin has done the last eight years in Frankfort? And not a day goes by that teetotalers are thanking God that Danville has remained dry.

Well, if my predictions of election outcomes had come true, the aforementioned people and events would have comprised the world according to Brock. I've been right on occasion, but it has been so rare that local political candidates wince when they see I have predicted victories for them. They view my prognostication as the kiss of death rather than a promotion.

And when I run into Wilma Brown, that incredible leader of the incredibly successful grassroots movement that turned Danville "moist" this year, she never fails to rib me over my prediction that her cause would lose by narrow margin last November. It won by a landslide, and Brown will never let me forget it.


But I remain dinted but undaunted. There's another election coming up and that means another opportunity for me to turn winners into losers, losers into winners and create another Wilma Brown to incessantly remind me of just how cracked my crystal ball is.

Here are my calls on the four major races on Tuesday ballot, most of which will decided by narrow margins:


The candidate I like: Democrat Ben Chandler

The candidate who will win: Chandler

Based on recent polls, I guess I'm out on a limb with this pick but, as a left of center kind of guy, I am a tree hugger, you know.

Chandler has done an excellent job as both auditor and attorney general. He has shown an independent, even maverick streak, a la his grandfather, former Gov. A.B. "Happy" Chandler, in going after Democrats as well as Republicans. When people do good jobs, they usually are promoted, and Chandler deserves the promotion to governor.

Also, Chandler has immunized himself through his somewhat independent work as auditor and attorney general against attacks from his opponent, Republican Ernie Fletcher, in Fletcher's Kentucky version of "it's time to clean up the mess in (fill in blank with courthouse, state capitol, Washington; in this case it's state capitol)." Chandler has tried to clean up much of that mess. By the way, if I hear that commercial again, I'm going to hurl a "mess" and force Fletcher to mop it up.

Fletcher has done a pretty fair job as 6th District U.S. representative, and he has one of the most impressive resumes of any political candidate anywhere. He's a physician, an ordained minister and a pilot. But he's not as well versed in state government or its issues as Chandler.

Also, Fletcher may have the endorsement of Democratic gubernatorial primary dropout Bruce Lunsford and strong backing from President Bush, who is hugely popular in Kentucky, but endorsements don't carry the weight they used to, even though they often carry a lot of bucks.

Attorney general

The candidate I like: Independent Gatewood Galbraith

The candidate who will win: Democrat Greg Stumbo

Galbraith is by far the superior candidate to both Stumbo and Republican Jack Wood. Both Stumbo and Wilson carry a lot of ethical baggage, the former of the personal variety, the latter of the professional variety. Galbraith carries his own morals-lacking luggage to those who are offended by his marijuana use and promotion - including more than a few folks of the Rush Limbaugh ethos that distinguishes between drugs and the people who use them (pot and coke are used by "maggot-infested hippies" and, when they get caught using or selling the stuff, they should be locked up; pain killers are used by good people who have bad backs and, when they become addicted, the poor souls should be treated.)

Galbraith has been an attorney for more than three decades and, by all accounts, a fierce advocate for his clients. We should expect a real consumer advocate as attorney general if he were elected. And, even though it would not be in his purview as AG and more in the arena of the ag commissioner, Galbraith really does have a vision for a Kentucky where hemp, not cucumbers and bell peppers, becomes a real alternative crop to tobacco.

But the ethically challenged Stumbo will face little challenge as this should be one of the few races on the ballot that isn't close.

Commissioner of Agriculture

The candidate I like: Democrat Alice Woods Baesler

The candidate who will win: Republican Richie Farmer

Baelser has the resume. Farmer has the reputation. The Republican's reputation will win out.

Baesler has been a real farmer for decades and has served on several boards of organizations and in several programs aimed at helping Kentucky's small farmers. Farmer does have an ag degree but not much else except a devastating outside jumper.

Nevertheless, Farmer, a former member of the "Unforgettables," a legendary University of Kentucky squad of the early 1990s, is highly popular among UK basketball fans. His experience as a jock will outweigh Baelser's expertise as a farmer.


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