We need better – no, MUCH better candidates Skip to content

We need better – no, MUCH better candidates

Are these the best we can do?

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I’ve never been especially keen on politics. I vote in every election, and I try to follow politics closely enough to keep abreast of major issues and make well-informed decisions.

During the past few years, however, I’ve been more involved with politics than at any time in my life. My incurable curiosity — not political activism — compelled me to delve more deeply into politics.

I wanted to find answers to at least a couple questions: How can Democrats win more elections in Kentucky? And, more to the point of this essay: Does the Kentucky Democratic Party (KDP) have a person or a team of persons to actively recruit political candidates?

I repeatedly reached out to the KDP for answers. Sometimes I was redirected to a different KDP staff member, and that person never replied to my emails. Sometimes I was told that answers would be forthcoming in the future – but they couldn’t answer my questions just then. Overall, it was a lesson in futility.

For 4-plus years, I served in the US Army as a public affairs specialist. When someone called or came into our Public Affairs Office with a question, we always provided an answer when possible. It seems strange that the US Army is (or was) more transparent and responsive than the KDP.

(Just a couple years ago, the KDP listed a Communications Director on its staff. Now there is no such person or position. Probably there should be ... )

I heard many Democratic nominees complain about an overall lack of support from the KDP. Invariably they were weak candidates who didn’t have the proverbial snowball’s chance of winning their election. For example, Geoff Young, who ran (and lost) as a candidate for governor in the Democratic primary, was openly and actively hostile toward the KDP. Young filed lawsuits against practically every major Democrat in Kentucky, as well as the KDP.

The KDP said: “The party cannot actively support a candidate that engages in countless frivolous lawsuits against the party, its officers, and virtually every elected official over the past decade.”

Young not only attacked the KDP and prominent Kentucky Democrats, he defended Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. And yet he cried foul and filed lawsuits because he wasn’t supported by the KDP and prominent Democrats here in Kentucky.

Moving on to the national stage ...

In January 2023, Republican George Santos was sworn in as the U.S. representative for New York’s 3rd congressional district. According to Wikipedia: “Santos has made numerous false or dubious claims about his biography, work history, criminal record, financial status, ethnicity, religion, and other matters, both in public and in private. Six weeks after his election, numerous news outlets reported that large parts of his self-published biography appeared to be fabricated, including claims about his ancestry, education, employment, charity work, property ownership, and crimes he claimed to be a victim of. Santos has admitted to lying about his education and employment.”

In May, Santos pleaded not guilty to seven counts of wire fraud, three counts of money laundering, one count of theft of public funds, and two counts of making materially false statements to the House of Representatives.

Santos has ignored prominent members of both parties calling for his resignation. In April, he officially declared he would seek reelection in 2024.

In January 2021, Republican Marjorie Taylor Greene was sworn in as the U.S. representative for Georgia’s 14th congressional district. According to Wikipedia: “Greene has promoted antisemitic, white supremacist, and far-right conspiracy theories, including the white genocide conspiracy theory, QAnon, and Pizzagate. Other extremist conspiracy theories she has supported include government involvement in mass shootings in the United States, murders basely perpetrated by the Clinton family, and 9/11 conspiracy theories. Before running for Congress, she supported calls to execute prominent Democratic Party politicians, including Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. ... During the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine, Greene promoted Russian propaganda and praised Vladimir Putin. ...”

Talk about poisoning the well.

Who wants a seat on that crazy clown car (formerly and formally known as the U.S. House of Representatives)?

That brings us to the highest office in the land – the presidency of the United States. It looks like Joe Biden and Donald Trump will most likely be the nominees – again. Practically no one is happy about that.

In Forbes (4/21/2023), “Most Democrats Don’t Want Biden To Run Again, Poll Finds – But They’ll Probably Vote For Him Anyway,” Alison Durkee reported that “a new Associated Press/NORC poll suggests that most Americans, even Democrats, would prefer he [Biden] didn’t run—even as Democrats are still prepared to vote for him in a general election.”

The poll found only 26% of respondents would like to see Biden run again in 2024, versus 73% who said he shouldn’t. A large majority of Democrats — 81% — say they’re likely to support Biden in a general election, with 41% saying they would “definitely” vote for him and 40% saying they “probably” would.

Biden’s age was a primary concern for why he shouldn’t run again. He’s already the oldest president in U.S. history.

(Personally, I was hoping Kamala Harris would be the Democratic candidate. She’s thoroughly qualified, and I’d like to see a female president. But polling did not favor her, alas.)

Former president Donald Trump is similarly unpopular. According to The Hill (4/22/2023), “44 percent of Republicans don’t want Trump to run for reelection: poll,” by Nick Robertson, “A new poll found that 70% of Americans, including 44% of Republicans, do not want former President Trump to make a White House run in 2024.

“The poll ... also found that 93% of Democrats and 63% of Independents do not want Trump to run.”

In April, Trump became the first former president to face criminal charges when he was charged in a New York State Supreme Court indictment with 34 counts of Falsifying Business Records in the First Degree. In May, a jury found Trump liable for sexually abusing and defaming advice columnist E. Jean Carroll and awarded her $5 million.

Polling doesn’t favor any of the Republicans who might challenge Trump in the primary. Florida governor Ron DeSantis is Trump’s closest rival – and DeSantis is a special kind of stupid. Why would any politician pick a fight with Disney? Why not pick a fight with Mother’s Day, apple pie, and baseball?

We’ve all heard the idiomatic question: Which came first? —the chicken or the egg? The answer to that question is debatable.

However, if we ask: Which came first? —the candidate or the politician? The answer is simple: The candidate came first.

Of course, we do need better politicians. But before they can become politicians, they must start out as candidates. That’s why I’m saying we need better candidates – here in Kentucky, and all across the nation.

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Mark Heinz

Mark Heinz served as an Army journalist, and is now a freelance writer who has written eight novels. He lives at Nolin Lake with his wife Carrie. (Read the full bio on the Contributors page.)

Nolin Lake, KY

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