September 27, 2022

New Democratic Kentucky governor stripped of powers by Republican legislature

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While the nation frets over the prospect of another round of electoral interference from the Kremlin to benefit Donald Trump, an equally insidious form of anti-democratic — including both the lower-case and upper-case meanings of the word — activity has been being conducted in plain view of the American people.


Republican efforts at voter suppression as a way to win elections that they would otherwise not be able to contest in a fair and open system have been well documented, with the supervision of the 2018 Georgia gubernatorial election by Brian Kemp, the GOP candidate in the race, among the most egregious examples of manipulating voter rosters, polling places, and the availability of early voting to stack the deck in their own party’s favor, purging 1.4 million voters from Georgia’s eligibility lists.

Even when a Democrat overwhelmingly wins an election despite whatever obstacles the Republicans may have placed in their way, the GOP’s lust for control seemingly motivates them to dig deep to find new methods to keep their talons firmly attached to the levers of power, the will of the electorate be damned.

The power grab by Wisconsin Republicans after Governor Scott Walker lost his bid for reelection in 2018 was the first recent example of this despicable trend. In a lame-duck session of the state legislature after the victory of Democrat Tony Evers, GOP legislators passed a series of bills stripping the governorship of its powers to reverse the harmful conservative policies enacted during Walker’s tenure.

“The Republicans limited the new governor’s ability to withdraw the state from lawsuits and his administration’s rule-making authority, and they cleared the way for lawmakers to hire outside lawyers to intervene in certain lawsuits,” as The New York Times wrote at the time.

Now, Republicans in Kentucky’s state Senate are attempting the same tactic in their state, where the wildly unpopular GOP Governor Matt Bevin was defeated by his Democratic challenger Andy Beshear in last year’s election.

According to a report at AlterNet, the Republican Kentucky legislators are trying to wrest control of the state’s Department of Transportation from the executive branch now controlled by Governor Beshear.

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In a party-line vote, the GOP-controlled state senate passed a bill that would “would limit the governor to nominating a transportation secretary from a list chosen by a new board whose nine members would be selected by the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce and local government associations, with those members subject to a veto by the Republican-run legislature. Lawmakers would also have veto power over Beshear’s nominee, making this the only cabinet position in the state requiring Senate confirmation,” according to AlterNet.

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With Kentucky only requiring a simple majority vote in the legislature to overrule any gubernatorial veto, the only recourse that Governor Beshear has to regain the same power to choose his own cabinet staff as his predecessors would be to bring the matter to the courts, a process he was quite successful at during his tenure as the state’s attorney general.

This disgraceful power grab by Republicans resentful of the rejection of their candidates by a public tired of policies that have consistently landed Kentucky in the bottom rankings among states in health care, education, and its overall economy needs to be recognized as an example of the lengths to which the GOP will go to prevent control of state government from slipping through their fingers.

With the numerous investigations into the Trump administration’s efforts to solicit foreign assistance in both the 2016 election and his ongoing 2020 campaign, we don’t need to imagine how far Republicans will try to go to prevent the White House from changing hands. We just need to hold them accountable for once.

Follow Vinnie Longobardo on Twitter

Original reporting by Stephen Wolf, Daily Kos at AlterNet.

Vinnie Longobardo

is the Managing Editor of Washington Press and a 35-year veteran of the TV, mobile, & internet industries, specializing in start-ups and the international media business. His passions are politics, music, and art.

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