Bevin continues his holy war on working families by seeking to deep-six the Labor Cabinet.

By BERRY CRAIG

AFT Local 1360

Republicans love to brag on themselves as the party of “traditional Kentucky values.”

Two "values" come to my mind: election-stealing and union-busting. The former used to be bipartisan; the latter is still vintage GOP. Anyway, they're linked.

The Republicans are straining to snatch a Democratic House seat in Daviess County through the kind of election shenanigans that would make old-time cigar-chomping, bourbon-swilling party bosses blush. Not coincidentally, the Democrat is strongly pro-union.

“...Apparently, both reason and honor go out the window when you have a chance to steal a seat and turn out a duly elected and already-sworn-in state representative,” Bruce Maples editorialized in Forward Kentucky, his Louisville-based blog.

On Nov. 6, Jim Glenn won back his seat by a single vote; his victory was twice certified. But the GOP flexed its political muscle and strong-armed a dubious recount.

The local board of elections added in a quintet of heretofore rejected absentee ballots, making the election a tie. Today, Glenn, who was first elected in 2006  and served another four terms, asked attorney general and fellow Democrat Andy Beshear to look into the GOP funny business.

“The Republicans are systematically destroying the public’s confidence in the integrity and fairness of our elections. It’s shameful,” said a statement from Marisa McNee, spokeswoman for the Kentucky Democratic Party. “The interference described in the recount report from the board of elections and by multiple members of the press who were in attendance is alarming. By all accounts, the Board of Elections was pressured into awarding a non-existent vote to [Republican] DJ Johnson by Mr. Johnson and his lawyers. Rep. Jim Glenn is the rightful winner of this election.”

Who knows what will comes next. But at face value, one ballot in particular looks as phony as Trump's hair hue.  

"If you saw a ballot where the straight-party box was partially colored in, but then a line was drawn through the party name and the rest of the box, and the voter proceeded to cast votes in individual races, what would you conclude?" Maples asked, including a photo of the dubious ballot.

"Any reasonable person, looking at that ballot, would assume that the voter changed their mind about voting straight party, and instead decided to cast votes in the races they cared about. And to leave blank the races they weren’t sure about.

"And then, if the local board of elections decided to not count that ballot in the House race, because there was no vote on the ballot in that race, any reasonable person would say that was the right thing to do."

Maples reloaded and fired again: 

"So if, after all of that had transpired, lawyers for the opponent pressured the local board to change its mind, and asked the local county attorney to weigh in, and members of the board of elections said later they felt pressured to change their ruling, and after much pressure and discussion they DID change their ruling – what would a reasonable person call THAT?

"Most Kentuckians would call it election stealing." 

No matter, Johnson and his legal eagles insist everything is above-board.

The anti-labor Johnson unseated Glenn two years ago. Gov. Matt Bevin seems desperate to have him back though the House (and Senate) have GOP supermajorities. (If the election comes down to a House vote, Johnson's a slam-dunk.) 

When he ran for governor four years ago, Bevin declared holy war on organized labor. He stumped for a “right to work” law and a measure to repeal the prevailing wage.

He got both after the GOP flipped the Democratic House in 2016. The GOP-majority legislature passed RTW and PW repeal at warp speed in 2017; Bevin giddily inked the legislation.

The governor and the GOP are still out to smash organized labor. Now he wants to axe the Labor Cabinet and merge it with the Public Protection Cabinet.

We've seen this rodeo.

The Labor Cabinet has been the Anti-Labor Cabinet since Bevin was sworn in. Derrick Ramsey, the governor’s first secretary, is fiercely anti-union. So is interim secretary David Dickerson.

The Labor Cabinet was created under Gov. Martha Layne Collins, a Democrat, who was elected in 1983.

Republican Gov. Ernie Fletcher (2003-2007) reduced it to a department-level agency. When he took on--and beat--Fletcher in 2007, Democrat Steve Beshear (the AG's dad) promised to return labor to cabinet status.

He kept his word.

Anyway, Bevin and the Republicans remind me of the old Robber Baron Cornelius Vanderbilt. (I used to teach history.)

“What do I care about law?” he famously scoffed. “Ain't I got the power?” Kentucky Republicans apparently think they do as they merrily make a mockery of the election process to swipe a House seat from a pro-union Democrat.