Wednesday, October 15, 2003

13 questions for Ben Chandler & Ernie Fletcher

One of these men will be Kentucky's next governor. Here are some questions and answers you aren't likely to hear in their campaign soundbites.

1. Is there an opinion or position you hold that might surprise voters, given your political affiliation and background?

Chandler: My support of the Second Amendment of the U. S. Constitution which guarantees the right of citizens to keep and bear arms.

Fletcher: I think the Republican Party can do a much better job of reaching out to minorities as they have received only empty promises from the other party. I am going to make every effort to make sure I do that as Governor, just as I have as a Congressman.

Have a question you'd like Kentucky's gubernatorial candidates to answer? Contact them directly through their Web sites: Ernie Fletcher and Ben Chandler. Or send your questions to us and we'll forward them to the candidates' campaigns. Send to: Ky. Governor's Race, Enquirer Editorial Page, 312 Elm St., Cincinnati, Ohio 45202; fax (513) 768=8610; e-mail letters@enquirer.com. Include your name, address, e-mail address (if any) and daytime phone.
2. What do you believe is the most common misconception people have about what the governor can, or cannot, do?

Chandler: The Governor of Kentucky has the ability to lead our people towards progress and prosperity while setting a proper ethical tone in our state. The Governor has no power to pass a law - only the legislature can do that - he or she can provide the leadership necessary to make passage possible. I intend to do just that and lead the way for expanded gaming at our racetracks and dedicate the proceeds to a trust fund for our schools.

Fletcher: Obviously there's a misconception from my opponent who believes Frankfort is powerless and that Kentucky's well being is solely dependent upon national policies. I believe the Governor can clean up Frankfort and grow Kentucky's economy.

3. Is there a line between where an elected official's personal life ends and his political life begins? If so, where do you draw the line for yourself?

Chandler: I believe public officials are servants of the people as well as role models and should adhere to the highest moral standards in their personal and private lives. However, I do believe that children of officials should not be subjected to the same level of scrutiny just because a parent is in office.

Fletcher: When they start intruding in the lives of my children.

4. Is there a person in the opposite party, at any level, whom you admire and respect enough to vote for?

Chandler: I am a great admirer of Republican President Theodore Roosevelt and would eagerly have voted for him if I could have.

Fletcher: Teresa Barton, Franklin County Judge Executive.

5. If you could change one thing about the way Kentucky's state government operates, what would it be?

Chandler: Without a doubt, it would be to reduce the size of state government and require it to operate on less money. In these tough economic times, Kentucky families must get by with less and state government should too. That's why I've issued a detailed plan to save hundreds of millions of dollars by ending no-bid contracts, reducing the number of state employees as they retire, cutting the number of state cars by one-third, and joining with other states to use our purchasing power to save on prescription drugs.

Fletcher: I would ensure a state government that works not for just a few political insiders but for all Kentuckians - Democrats, Republicans and Independents.

6. Name three people in public life, past or present, who have been positive influences on the development of your political career and philosophy.

Chandler: President Theodore Roosevelt provided inspiration to me in the aggressive way he took on the robber barons over 100 years ago who were amassing fortunes while keeping working Americans from earning a living wage; my grandfather, Happy Chandler, whose career as Kentucky governor, U. S. senator and commissioner of baseball taught me that conducting yourself with courage, determination and independence is the best way to serve the people; and Gov. Ned Breathitt, who encouraged me to enter public office and whose limitless energy and boundless good cheer, is living proof of the power of positive thinking.

Fletcher: Ronald Reagan, Abraham Lincoln and Harry Truman.

7. Describe the most difficult decision you have had to make in public life.

Chandler: My decision to investigate Gov. Paul Patton, a popular member of my own political party, which ultimately led to the indictment of two of his top aides.

Fletcher: Giving up my medical practice and not seeing patients.

8. If you could go back and change a decision you made or a position you took in your public career, what would it be?

Chandler: Whether it is suing drug companies for price gouging or taking on telemarketers who prey on the elderly and our families, I am proud of the decisions I have made in office. I do wish I had been able to find a way to spend more time with my wife and three young children while balancing my responsibilities in public service.

Fletcher: I would have followed more of my own instincts in the 1996 congressional campaign instead of listening to the consultants I had at that time.

9. Besides the fact that you are running for governor, what is the most interesting thing about you?

Chandler: I'm a big fan of baseball and history and enjoy doing the grocery shopping for my family. There's an element of competition in seeing how much we can save by clipping coupons and taking advantage of specials.

Fletcher: I enjoy playing golf and fly-fishing. I also enjoy swing dancing with my wife and high school sweetheart - Glenna Fletcher.

10. Do you place bets at Kentucky's horse tracks? If Kentucky legalizes casino gambling, will you patronize casinos?

Chandler: I'm not much of a gambling man myself, but I have occasionally placed a two-dollar bet at Keeneland. I know up front it is more of a contribution than a wager. I believe Kentucky voters should authorize expanded gaming at our racetracks to help fund our schools, because we are losing hundreds of millions of dollars to other states. We'll audit these funds each year to make sure they go into the classroom and not pet projects.

Fletcher: Yes, I do place bets at Kentucky's horse tracks and if there were to be expanded gaming the only wagers I would typically make would be at the horse tracks.

11. Have you ever been a smoker, and what is your personal attitude toward smoking now?

Chandler: I used to smoke occasionally, but gave it up when I became a father. We should encourage children not to smoke because it is not good for them. However, adults should be free to make this decision on their own without government interference.

Fletcher: No - I have never smoked cigarettes. However, I believe it is an individual's personal choice if they choose to smoke cigarettes.

12. What would you say is the best book you have read within the past year?

Chandler: History of the Crusades by Steven Runciman. This is a fascinating book that chronicles the struggle to bring Christianity to all people of the world.

Fletcher: John Adams by David McCullough.

13. In three direct sentences or fewer, describe the key points of your political philosophy.

Chandler: I'm a conservative and believe state government should serve the people, not special interests. We should put Kentucky families first by protecting our communities, creating jobs, working to lower health care costs and providing quality schools. Rather than burdening our people with red tape, we should work to help Kentuckians achieve the prosperity that is possible in our great country.

Fletcher: Freedom, Personal Responsibility and Empowerment.

Calling Cincinnati back to the river
13 questions for Ben Chandler & Ernie Fletcher
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