At a Democratic Party dinner in Lexington tonight, Lt. Gov. Daniel Mongiardo (D-Ky) said he will lead rallies against U.S. Senator Jim Bunning (R-KY) on Tuesday at Bunning's Louisville and Lexington offices if the funding for an emergency extension of unemployment and health benefits is not in place by Monday. Mongiardo challenged rival Jack Conway to put their differences aside and join him for a unified Democrat statement.
In my original blog post Saturday night, I indicated that - at first blush - by Mongiardo initiating the rally, he puts himself in a strong position on the issue and boxes Conway into a corner. If Conway joins Mongiardo at the rally, it was still Mongiardo's idea. If he doesn't, what's stopping him?
As it turns out, Conway's role as Kentucky's Attorney General places him out of town, Tuesday, according to the Louisville Courier-Journal's Joe Gerth:
Following the event, Conway said he had just learned of Mongiardo's plans to protest outside Bunning's offices. Conway said he is scheduled to be in Washington dealing with in issue involving tobacco settlement funds and wouldn't be able to attend.
"I certainly think Sen. Bunning's actions were petty and petulant," Conway said, adding that he'll likely send a letter protesting Bunning's actions.
Bunning explained on the Senate floor that he wants the benefits extended, too, yet simply wants the $10 billion to be funded by the pool of $400 billion in economic stimulus dollars, rather than adding to the budget deficit. And, Bunning says he will object to any future spending bills on the same grounds, especially after the U.S. Senate passed pay-as-you-go legislation earlier this month.
Republican candidates Rand Paul, Trey Grayson and Bill Johnson have issued statements supporting Bunning.
Here's the Mongiardo news release:
Mongiardo to Lead Protest Rally on Tuesday
If Unemployment and Health Benefits Are Not Restored
Calls On Conway to Join Him in Show of Democratic Unity
FRANKFORT - In a speech before a crowd of several hundred Democrats attending the Lexington/Fayette County Jefferson-Jackson Dinner in Lexington tonight, Dr. Daniel Mongiardo took up the plight of more than 119,000 Kentuckians whose unemployment and health care benefits are set to expire tomorrow night after Kentucky Senator Jim Bunning blocked an attempt by Senate Democrats to pass an emergency extension late Thursday evening.
Mongiardo set aside his prepared remarks and spoke in support of those Kentuckians who have lost their jobs during this, the worst economic recession in generations. Mongiardo said many of the 119,230 Kentuckians who stand to lose their unemployment and health benefits as a result of Bunning's actions have spouses and children - families to provide for.
Mongiardo said if the issue of providing an emergency extension of unemployment and health benefits is not resolved on Monday, he will lead a protest rally at Jim Bunning's Louisville and Lexington offices on Tuesday.
Turning to his main Democratic Primary rival, Attorney General Jack Conway, Mongiardo continued by stating that it is time to set aside their differences, and for Democrats to come together in support of the Kentuckians and their families who are about to lose their unemployment and health benefits. He then invited Conway and all Democrats to stand with him Tuesday if the issue is still not resolved.