Baesler's Back
and he's the best bet for the sixth district

by Rhonda Reeves

Illustration Zach Trenholm

Scotty Baesler is what most people look for in a Democratic candidate these days: a social moderate and fiscal conservative. He bears no resemblance to the "tax and spend liberals" so many prior generations found so scary.

In fact, there's little to be afraid of in this candidacy.

Over the course of his three terms in the House, he fought for a balanced budget amendment, and worked to reform both welfare and campaign finance. He's a guy who went toe to toe with Gingrich and lived to tell the tale.

In a recent interview, Baesler's compassion and passion for the voters of the sixth district is clear.

As a tobacco farmer, he doesn't shy away from the challenges confronting Kentucky's largely agrarian economy. While he stresses, "don't give up on tobacco," he is full of ideas that can create a sustainable economy for farmers who must financially wean themselves from the crop.

He's realistic about "the combination of factors," that may be part of the transition, whether it's "shrimp or trout or vegetables." He talks about investing in the "second tier" of the process, i.e., it's not enough to grow produce, the state has to think about processing plants too. Farmers' markets are vital, but we must also think about community kitchens and other initiatives which form a synergistic effort.

He exhibits an impressive command of the players in Kentucky agriculture - citing program after program (those that work and those that don't), clearly on a first-name basis with all of the state's commodity group leaders, as well as the grassroots organizers.

He also exhibits depth on the issue - stressing that there's more to an agrarian or rural economy than farming - citing the need to consider "better health services" and "quality of life" issues, alongside ways to improve the economy and local business efforts.

As for transportation, he cites former Senator Wendell Ford's service as a model, lauding his accomplishments in reforming the state's accessibility by air, admitting "in congress, we [often] talk about roads, when we should talk about airports."

It's a fairly fearless stance (given the porcine popularity of roads projects throughout the state), though he does go on to acknowledge the importance of strategic road improvements as well as mass transit- singling out the critical need for "work routes" as well as rural services which get people to doctors' appointments and clinics, and so on.

He also notes that we can all be guilty of "overestimating our transportation problems sometimes... when it takes 20 minutes to get somewhere and you think it ought to take ten." He advises that the potential costs have to be evaluated against "how much is that ten minutes worth?"

He also advocates caution when looking at bypasses and "outer, outer loops" - balancing the needs of accessibility against the potential problems where "bypasses can kill a downtown too."

As for the trend toward regionalization, he holds fast to the notion that "the tradition of local government will be maintained," and he prefers the carrot (of economic development) to the stick (of governmental intervention) - with the goal of enticing counties to work together and cooperate via incentives (e.g., meeting with USDA officials in a joint effort to address rural economic development that could assist farmers in transitioning from tobacco dependence).

Baesler also supports Roe v. Wade, though he confirms his stance against partial birth abortion, and he advocates parental consent for minors. He summarizes his position succinctly, "[It's] the woman's choice. That's her business, not mine."

And finally, asked, "what if you lose?" his response is both swift and sanguine, "I've lost before."

Hopefully, it's a moot point.

Pop Quiz

What's in your CD player right now (if inapplicable, what's on the 8-track tape player?)?

Sarah Brightman and the London Symphony Orchestra. "It's in some other language, but it's always pretty."

Who should play you in the movie of your life?

He laughs self-deprecatingly, dismissing Robert Redford as "not good looking enough," and Tom Hanks as "not a good enough actor" while "George C. Scott is dead," finally settling on Paul Newman (who's "been married almost as long").

What's the last movie you saw in the theater?

Space Cowboys (offering high praise for Tommy Lee Jones).

What's the last book someone gave you as a gift (or the last book you purchased)?

John Louis's Walking with the Wind: A Memoir of the Movement.


Two dogs, Babs and Carson. Asked to elaborate, "Babs is the big dog. Carson is the little dog." Also, a cat, Anastasia.

Anything else? "Well... a lot of cows."

Illustration Zach Trenholm

An Unexpected Moderate?
Fletcher throws critics a curve to the center
By Alex De Grand

Many of Congressman Ernie Fletcher's critics are still waiting for the virulently right-wing Hyde to come out of this seemingly mild-mannered Dr. Jekyll.

Make no mistake: The Republican Fletcher has been a solid conservative, receiving strong ratings from anti-abortion and business groups. And quite a few aren't letting their guard down just yet.

But the full-throttle fanaticism that many predicted (based, in part, on perceptions of ugly social conservatism used to batter Fletcher's 1998 opponent Ernesto Scorsone) has yet to blow out of the congressman like Old Faithful.

Yes, Fletcher told the Herald-Leader his favorite book can be found in the Bible. But it was the Book of Proverbs, not the fire-and-brimstone of Revelation.

The Herald-Leader acknowledged that its predictions of a congressman embracing "fringe views" have yet to happen in its October 15 endorsement of Scotty Baesler.

In this election, Fletcher is stressing work-a-day competence representing the sixth district. Fletcher's policy squabbles with Baesler over the nuances of a prescription drug plan in 2000 have largely replaced the type of heated "soft on rape" accusations he hurled against Scorsone in 1998.

And the moderate stances adopted by Fletcher have not gone unrewarded. For instance, Fletcher has been able to peel off some of Baesler's labor support and reassure others that there is no need to trade out the incumbent.

In an interview with Ace Weekly, Fletcher continued to underscore the tangible benefits he has brought to the district like any congressman, regardless of ideological stripe.

For example, addressing transportation issues, Fletcher rattled off a list of the federal funds steered to this area including $3.5 million for LexTran and $1.7 million for the Bluegrass Airport.

Answering a question about merging political jurisdictions such as the one between Louisville and Jefferson County, Fletcher stated his opposition to the idea.

But then he turned the question around to express support for regional planning and pointed to his efforts to bring $24 million for improvements on the Kentucky River that should assist the area's water needs.

When lacking specific dollar amounts to list, Fletcher answered questions by generally mentioning the leadership he can deliver on an issue as the incumbent.

For example, Fletcher hinted at what he may be able to do for the district's farmers.

"We need to brand Kentucky beef," Fletcher said. "I have been told there is a $200 million dollar market to be gained there."

He talked about doing more to establish farmers' markets that allow growers a chance to sell directly to the consumer.

And Fletcher said he isn't giving up on tobacco, holding out the prospect that he can direct research money toward discovering beneficial uses for the plant such as vaccines.

Regarding the possibility of a passenger rail link between Lexington, Frankfort and Louisville, Fletcher called for a general study on transportation in Central Kentucky to look at ways fuel costs and traffic flow can be better managed.

"We need to do a lot more for mass transit," Fletcher said. "We've got more difficulties with transportation than before."

When asked about abortion, Fletcher simply stated "I'm prolife" and avoided any elaboration that might provoke opponents searching for clues to a more sinister right-wing persona.

"Obviously, it is a difficult issue and we need to reduce the number of abortions," Fletcher said. "We need to provide support for these young ladies."

Fletcher acknowledged his vote for a ban on partial birth abortion, but added the measure he supports makes exceptions for the life of the mother. Fletcher also noted his voting record for requiring parental consent or permission of a judge if a parent is neglectful or nowhere to be found.

Even when asked what he might do if he loses the election, Fletcher kept his answer on the safe side.

"I've been so busy campaigning, I haven't made any plans," he said.

Pop Quiz

What's in your CD player right now (if inapplicable, what's on the 8-track tape player?)?

Music from the 1960s and Big Band sounds like the Righteous Brothers and Glenn Miller. Yanni.

Who should play you in the movie of your life?

"Tom Selleck would be someone and he's a good conservative. Or Mel Gibson."

What's the last movie you saw in the theater?

Shakespeare in Love

What's the last book someone gave you as a gift (or the last book you purchased)?

"The last book handed to me was The Firm by John Grisham."


A dog that passed away was Sadie, a golden retriever.

Illustration Zach Trenholm

Suddenly Gatewood!
Maverick was "outsider" before being "outsider" was cool
By Alex De Grand

Apparently, the only thing harder than not liking Gatewood Galbraith is voting for him.

Galbraith, a 53-year-old Lexington attorney, is the Reform Party candidate's for the sixth district congressional seat and practically a local legend. (For instance, Ace readers have voted Gatewood "most beloved local personality" many times over.)

But in three runs for governor and a race for agriculture commissioner, the famous personality has failed to channel his celebrity status into votes.

Detractors explain Galbraith - with his passionate arguments for legalizing hemp, the medical use of marijuana, and an uncompromising right to bear arms - is too far on the fringe to be elected.

While some find Galbraith's personal appearances engaging, others think he's just weird. On his web page ( you'll find quotes like this one from 1991:

"We live in a police state. There's no doubt about it. When we walk out of our home, get in our car and go down the street, they can set up random roadblocks; make us get out of our car; bring up a dog to sniff us and our car's contents.

"Do you think John Wayne would have put up with that? John's riding his horse down a trail. They drop a log in front of him and say, 'John, get down off that horse, let this dog sniff you, we're going to take blood out of your arm and make you pee in this bucket.'

"I believe John Wayne would have said, 'I'm afraid not, Pilgrim. This is where I draw my line in the sand.' I think The Duke would be with me on this one."

Yet, Galbraith's defenders argue many of these views are in line with the majority of Kentuckians. As farmers see their tobacco income continue to shrink, Galbraith's positions on hemp and marijuana will be praised as visionary, they insist.

Boosters also note Galbraith has demonstrated strength in the sixth district. For example, Galbraith drew 30 percent of the vote in the district during his 1999 run for governor, defeating the Republican in 16 of 19 counties.

Polls during this congressional race have placed Galbraith a distant third behind Democrat Scotty Baesler and Republican Ernie Fletcher.

But in a recent interview, Galbraith was characteristically upbeat and outlined his often-maverick views on a series of issues.

Addressing the plight of tobacco farmers, Galbraith stressed the need for continuing the tobacco program "any way we can." But he added the state needs to press ahead with crop diversification.

"There is no one single answer to replacing tobacco," Galbraith said.

If elected, Galbraith said he would seek creation of an industrial hemp pilot project in the sixth district. He would also pursue strategies for marketing organic produce.

"What would have to happen is [establishment of] multi-county cooperatives owned by the farmers that package and freeze organic produce in hopes of providing for a year-round market," Galbraith said.

Turning to transportation issues, Galbraith expressed no enthusiasm for a larger Bluegrass Airport.

"I look at our smaller airport as a positive, not a negative... Part of the tradition and charm of the Bluegrass is that we're not like every other metropolitan area," Galbraith said.

Galbraith endorsed mass transit, including LexTran and the concept of a passenger rail link between Lexington, Frankfort and Louisville.

Galbraith said he is "cautious" of proposals to build more highways on the perimeter of Lexington because they invite further urban sprawl.

Considering issues of further economic development, Galbraith emphasized the need to attract industries and federal projects appropriate for the area and the values of those living here.

For example, Galbraith criticized prison construction as an economic stimulus.

"[Prisons] must locate and coerce people through it as grist for the mill," Galbraith said. "And when people themselves become grist, then I don't think it's appropriate to replace those considerations with economic considerations and call it a victory for economics. After all, that's what the Nazis did to the Jews... All those chemical plants they were made to work in [as] grist for the mill."

Galbraith restated his opposition to the current practices of "free trade," but insisted the sixth district should seek out global markets so long as it is on the basis of preserving human dignity.

Addressing efforts to merge political jurisdictions in Central Kentucky, Galbraith said he is "wary" of such plans.

"I always favor local control over regional or central control," Galbraith said.

Although personally opposed to abortion on demand, Galbraith said he supports Roe v. Wade.

"I would hope society would provide as many alternatives to abortion to provide every woman with a full spectrum of choices," he said.

Galbraith shrugged off any concerns he might be headed for another electoral defeat this fall.

"I'm only going as far as the truth will take me so wherever I end up, I'll be satisfied," he said.

Pop Quiz

What's in your CD player right now (if inapplicable, what's on the 8-track tape player?)?

Shannon Curfman, Enya, Sheryl Crow, Johnny Lang, Lyle Lovett

Who should play you in the movie of your life?

John Wayne (acknowledging he is dead so he won't really have the privilege)

What's the last movie you saw in the theater?

Saving Private Ryan

What's the last book someone gave you as a gift (or the last book you purchased)?

A Nation, Not an Empire by Patrick Buchannan


Last had pets around 1990: Two standard poodles named Augie and J.C. (after Augustus and Julius Caesar).

Lick Bush
and other electoral recommendations

If you believe CNN, George W. Bush already has Kentucky in the bag.

For those of you who were planning to make a trip out to the polls to show your support of him, hey, you can relax. Stay home. Take a load off. You have it on good authority that he's got it covered. If CNN says it, it must be true. Stop reading.


For the rest of you, run, don't walk, to the voting booth.

And vote against George W. Bush.

Not because it's the progressive, tree-huggin', pro-choice, bleedin'-heart liberal thing to do.

Do it out of enlightened self-interest - there's a notion with bi-partisan appeal.

You don't have to be Rob Brezsny to make some calculated predictions about what another Bush in the White House might mean.

Do the math.

Are you interested in returning to the inflation rates of the 70s? How does 15 percent on a home mortgage sound?

Did you like trickle-down economics so much that you want to return to them - or were you one of the people being "trickled" on? Euphemistically speaking.

What about another Black Monday? Sound good?

A return to skyrocketing unemployment? There's something for you college grads.

How about another Gulf War to support oil interests? Got any sacrificial 18-21 year-olds in your house you'd like to offer up as cannon fodder?

No wait, let's talk about FAMILY VALUES. Family values? We all need a moral compass in the White House, don't we? And who better to provide that leadership than a self-righteous, smug, sanctimonious fratboy boozehound who can't even deny a past cocaine problem?

Or let's talk about nepotism. Bush condemns Gore as a guy who's "not his own man," all the while running to Daddy for foreign-policy pop quizzes and, in a rare moment of (surely inadvertent) candor, characterizing Mama Babs as a "stage mother" to ABC News.

Foreign policy? How many advisers will it take to teach a guy his age to read a map?

And regardless of where any of us stand on the death penalty, can't we all agree that we ought to be able to keep a straight face while we discuss the issue? Isn't it a little unseemly to smirk over an execution?

But most importantly: a tax cut? Oh sure. Who doesn't want to pay less taxes? While we're at it: who wants candy? Forgetting for a moment that the math doesn't work, and that Bush has promised the same pot of gold to at least a handful of constituencies. (Even if it did work, about half of his proposed cut would benefit the richest one percent in the country.) More importantly, has anybody considered the fact that ohhhhhhhhh, could it be, maybe, possibly, that he's just... lying? That his mouth's writing checks this government can't cover? That his whole economic plan is predicated on fiction? Is this so inconceivable? Perhaps you should... read his lips.

Vote for Baesler

Name calling. Finger pointing. Mudslinging.

The congressional race for the sixth district is one of the ugliest in years... unless well, you count the senate and sixth district congressional race from 1998 (hallmarked by incumbent Ernie Fletcher's "Worst Day" rape ad, and Jim Bunning's racist "Gracias Señor Baesler" campaign).

The fact is, ugly politics (though unfortunate) are nothing new to this race or this district. They're no excuse to stay home.

And once we put on our hip-waders and slogged through the mud, Baesler emerged as our candidate of choice.

He exceeds Ernie Fletcher's record in both quality and quantity of experience. Fletcher's been given a free ride by his party up to now, in recognition of the fact that they want to hold this seat. Gatewood Galbraith is a colorful character without the necessary legislative skills a lead role in Washington will require.

We spent time with all three candidates over this election season. We reviewed their records, and we interviewed all three (each candidate was asked the exact same series of questions, and their profiles follow). There were some surprises along the way (like Fletcher's sympathetic stance towards labor - has anybody notified his party that he's stepping out of line?).

But Baesler emerged as the clear choice on the issues that matter here in the sixth district: agriculture, economic development, transportation, education, and the always-struggling issue of campaign finance reform.