Enjoy the chamber forum, governor, but Fancy Farm’s next

 BERRY CRAIG

AFT Local 1360

The Kentucky Chamber of Commerce loves to bash Attorney Gen. Andy Beshear and boost Gov. Matt Bevin.

So I don’t blame the Democratic gubernatorial hopeful for telling the chamber to take a hike.

Beshear won’t be at Friday’s chamber forum with Bevin, a Republican who wants a second term. The audience will be business bigwigs. Like the chamber, their idea of “free enterprise“ is union free.

But the  state AFL-CIO-endorsed Beshear can’t wait to meet Bevin on a level playing field—onstage at the Fancy Farm picnic, where both camps will have their fans in the crowd.

Meanwhile, Beshear is skipping the forum because “the chamber has been a major supporter of Matt Bevin and his harmful agenda for working families," Beshear campaign spokesperson Sam Newton said in a statement to the Louisville Courier-Journal.

The Beshear camp told the C-J’s Philip M. Bailey that the chamber had “spent three years working to strip” the AG of his “legal authority to protect Kentuckians, and they have also been the largest proponents of Matt Bevin’s illegal pension cuts for teachers and first responders.”

Added Bailey: “Newton said the group's umbrella, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, for instance, has showered millions on the Republican Governors Association, which has spent $1.5 million on ads attacking Beshear.”

The chamber also played a big role in helping foist on Kentucky workers Bevin’s anti-worker and anti-union agenda, including ”right to work,” prevailing wage repeal and going after the workers compensation and unemployment insurance programs.

Like Bevin, too, the chamber thinks that rich people need their taxes cut and that government has no responsibility to protect workers, consumers and the environment against the greedy excesses inherent in unregulated capitalism.

Anyway, chamber chief Dave Adkisson told Bailey he was disappointed that Beshear will be a no-show. 

Adkisson said that the chamber had “a long-standing history of working with both governors and legislators across the aisle to advocate ways in which to improve Kentucky’s business climate.” 

Translation: the chamber lobbies and spends big bucks to try to make union-busting bipartisan.

To be sure, Bevin will enjoy the chamber dog-and-pony show. But it won’t be much of a warmup for Fancy Farm, where Beshear is an old pro at handling the boo birds. Bevin hasn’t been to a picnic in two years.

Oh, Bevin relishes belittling and insulting his detractors, but mostly from friendly confines — on his Facebook page, in his office and at GOP-friendly gatherings, for instance. 

Doubtless, the chief objects of Bevin’s disaffection will be well-represented in the Democratic crowd: union members and teachers, especially. I wouldn’t be surprised if they jog the governor‘s memory about what he’s called them.