Kentucky’s Congressional Races: the Importance of Being ‘Ernest’

Kentucky’s Congressional Races: the Importance of Being ‘Ernest’

The importance of being earnest

For District 6, there are two Republicans with staunch, party-line platforms, Ernie Fletcher (ex-state-rep) and businessman Jay Whitehead (also an ex-congressional aide). A conundrum? Not for us. Whitehead may be the lesser of two evils, but we’re not even sure we can commit to that. If it’s a sacrificial lamb you’re looking for, we would support his candidacy for that, however. Because it’s the democrats that make this race interesting

We had very productive interviews with both Ernesto Scorsone (D-state senator) and Lexington vice-mayor Teresa Isaac.

(Jonathan Miller did not respond to a request for an interview [offered via email, fax, phone, or in person] as to why ACE readers should vote for him, though his staff did fax us his campaign materials stating that he would be “A New Voice for Kentucky Families.” He promotes the Miller Plan, which can be accessed at He’s been married [to the same woman] since 1989, and has two children.

Other candidates include Scott Land; Jim Newberry (an attorney); Eck Rose (state sen. and 95 gubernatorial candidate, who got “demoted” by his own party -and we won’t lower ourselves to critique his television ad that features his smiling, pregnant wife); and Bobby Russell, a Madison County Attorney.

But getting back to the embarrassment of riches: Scorsone and Isaac.

Isaac is clearly on top of what issues ACE readers will want to know about and presents her accomplishments and record as an “independent thinker,” during her career as a member of the Urban County Council since 1990, and vice mayor since 1993, when she disagreed with Miller on the proposed payroll tax increase. Though she was clearly representing the desires of her constituents, critics accused her of “playing politics,” while councilman Roy Durbin recently told the daily paper that “Teresa tried to cut Pam’s throat…” An analogy we found both harsh and inappropriate. (As we are already taxed to death on the local level, who exactly thought this increase was a good idea?) She has also been criticized for her “less than diplomatic” personality-to which we would respond that she is NOT running for Miss Congeniality, and that a male candidate would probably not have to respond to that sort of accusation.

Asked to counter critics’ charges that she doesn’t have enough experience to head to the hill, Isaac makes an impassioned case for the fact that local politics have amply prepared her for the type of coalition-building that would be required in Congress. She’s been in the trenches, and points out that as a local politician, “constituents call on you 24 hours a day, whether it’s in the grocery, or at little league or in the park.” And if anybody wants to talk “family values,” she can certainly go toe to toe with them as a single mom who’s been on the PTA and a homeroom mother and carpooler. She asks what other candidate gets a call on the cell phone saying, “I left my math homework at home and need it now.” Which also leads into another thrust of her campaign, which is that this is an opportune moment to put another woman on the hill-with no incumbent in the race.

She also cites the Family Care Center as an example of how state, local, and federal dollars can work together to effectively impact the lives of the working poor.

She summarizes her platform as a desire to “level the playing field” in areas like health care, child care, and so on.

A trip across the street to Ernesto Scorsone’s office is an equally positive experience. He’s proud of his record on some issues that would be hard NOT to support (establishing a Living Will for Kentuckians; forcing insurance companies to cover the cost of screening mammograms; and sponsoring the School Safety Act, long before the incidents in Paducah and Arkansas). On more controversial issues — he’s been generally pro-choice –for example, and unapologetically so.

In the early 90s, when the Kentucky Center on Public Issues picked their top 10 effective legislators, Scorsone notes that he was the only one of the ten selected who wasn’t in a “power position” in the legislature-yet he’d still managed to distinguish himself on the basis of his record.

As he says, he’s got a demonstrated passion for the legislative process, which he feels will be integral to any freshman representative. And while we can strongly respect, admire, and back his L-word voting initiative, we would be remiss if we did not point out that he also has a 14-year record on solid “bread and butter issues” like health care and education. Nothing controversial about those.

For ACE, his lengthy record of achievements and accomplishments make him the best choice, but we certainly wouldn’t shed any tears if Kentucky managed to put another woman in Washington come this Fall.