Stumbo, a Prestonsburg native, just two counties away from Mongiardo’s home in Hazard, wasted no time in showing his support for Conway, a Louisville native. Congressmen John Yarmuth and Ben Chandler’s endorsement was a given, as was Louisville Mayor Jerry Abramson’s, and in as much wasn’t that significant.
By and large endorsements don’t mean a whole lot, but Stumbo’s endorsement has a different role all together. For one it illustrates the mountain Mongiardo has to climb in this primary. I’ve no hard data to back me up, but I have to think that his name being on the ticket helped push Steve Beshear into the governor’s mansion. Beshear did carry Leslie County after all, an ardent red county if there ever was one. I have to believe that had Mongiardo not been on the ticket and a Democrat from Louisville was, then that’s one county Ernie Fletcher would have carried. And there’s no doubt other counties in the region just like it. If Stumbo’s endorsement is any indication, Mongiardo could have a tough primary fight on his hands.
Secondly, Conway is being tagged as a major up-and-comer in the Democratic Party, and not just in Kentucky. He’s got a lot in common with Mongiardo. He ran a very tight race with former Congresswoman Anne Northup, almost upsetting the incumbent with much more money on her side. He’s young and generally well liked. He’s been effective in the short time he’s operated as the state’s attorney general. Finally, he doesn’t have much baggage to carry with him.
Jack Conway’s biggest obstacle could be his stance on coal. We all know where Mongiardo stands on the issue, but not much has been heard from the Conway camp. If he blunders the coal issue and the eastern region sees him as anti coal mining it could spell disaster. Coal miners and their families have little use for politicians that don’t support them, and who could blame them?
While the coal issue won’t be much of an issue in central Kentucky, here in the eastern coalfields where the overall consensus is that the liberal leaders in Washington want to do away with certain methods of coal mining, it could mean everything.
Conway is a smart politician, so look for him to ride the fence on this one like Beshear did in the 2007 election. He’ll show support for the coal miners, and suggest that more could be done to extract coal in a more environmentally friendly way. It worked for Beshear, and as long as candidates aren’t forced to swing one way or the other it will continue to work.
To say the least, it’s going to be an interesting primary if nothing else. Both Mongiardo and Conway are extremely smart and savvy politicians, and it’s going to be a close one.