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Dems battle over who is the true independent, Democrat

by Joe Arnold

WHAS11.com

Posted on January 25, 2010 at 11:14 PM

As the primary campaigns proceed in Kentucky's U.S. Senate race, the frontrunners in both parties appear to be either shifting to the right or asserting that they were there in the first place.

Republicans Trey Grayson and Rand Paul have sparred over who is the true conservative for months, with Bill Johnson increasingly talked about in Tea party circles.

Yet, the Democratic primary has been especially interesting to watch, especially in light of the public backlash to President Obama and the Democrats in Congress push for a massive healthcare overhaul.

I asked Jack Conway what if everyone tells you that voters "are opposed to the healthcare overhaul as proposed by President Obama.  Is that going to affect your position?"

"I wouldn't have voted for the Senate bill if it had that Nebraska provision," Conway replied " I find that particularly problematic for me. I don't think it's fair that one state gets a special deal."

However, "I think it's a good thing that 31 milion additional Americans get health care coverage," Conway added, "It's a good thing to cover folks with preexisting conditions and i think it's a laudable goal.  I just think this process has really upset a lot of people, and I'm upset by this process."

Conway asserted "I think I can be independent, (yet), I believe in the principles of the Democratic party."

Dan Mongiardo spokesman Kim Geveden blasted Conway's "independent" claim, calling it an "extreme political makeover."

And, Mongiardo himself echoed the sentiment shortly after officially filing for the Senate race.

"Just because all of a sudden he thinks he's independent because the polls tell him that's what he needs to be, that's just not so," Mongiardo said of Conway. "People know I'm a pro growth, independent Democrat, an independent leader and I've been there."

But how far can Dan Mongiardo run from national Democrats before Democrats raise questions?

Mongiardo raised eyebrows when he told a reporter from Great Britain's The Guardian newspaper that he would not want the standardbearer of the Democratic Party,President Barack Obama, to campaign with him in Kentucky, "With some of the positions he has taken, especially on coal, no. He certainly can't come into eastern or western Kentucky and help. Nor would I want him to," Mongiardo said.  His campaign confirmed the quote's accuracy.

"I think that's really ironic that Daniel Mongiardo went out and endorsed Barack Obama the way he did because he endorsed a lot of his policies and then turn around and say no I don't want him coming to my state," Conway said in an interview.

I asked Louisville's top two Democrats, both Conway supporters, for their response and if they would want Mr. Obama to campaign with them.

U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth:   "I don't think I'd be saying that about the President of the United States of my own party.  I think anybody should welcome the President of the United States in his or her state."

Mayor Jerry Abramson:  "This state didn't vote for President Obama.  And, I can understand his thinking. But in my case by 2011, if the economy is not moving, if we're not back into a mode that we all feel more confident, then it's a lot more difficult than worrying about whether the president comes to Kentucky."

 

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