As Maine goes, so goes Kentucky?

By BERRY CRAIG

AFT Local 1360

I knew Jason Bailey was good at number crunching. He's got a master’s degree in public administration with a specialization in public finance.

He's also executive director of the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy, a Berea-based think tank.

But it turns out that Bailey can turn a phrase, too. In the September-October issue of Mother Jones magazine, he said GOP Gov Matt Bevin is a composite of “Scott Walker’s politics with Paul LePage’s mouth.”

Walker was governor of Wisconsin, and LePage, of Maine. Both are union-despising Republicans. LePage is also a bigot and rank demagogue in the Donald Trump mold.

There are a slew of working-class Kentuckians, especially those of us with union cards, who fervently hope that next month, Bevin meets Walker's fate. Last November, Dairy State voters dumped Walker for Tony Evers, a pro-union Democrat.

LePage was term-limited. About as popular as a wet dog at a wedding, he probably would have lost. Mainers elected Janet Mills, a pro-union Democrat who was also the state's outgoing attorney general.

We remember how Walker declared holy war on organized labor, smashing public employee unions and ramrodding a "right to work" law through the GOP state legislature. More than a few Kentucky union members went to Madison, Wisconsin's capital, shivered in the snow and stood in solidarity with Wisconsin workers.

(LePage, a Walker wannabe, pushed hard for a RTW bill but failed to get it passed.)

Bevin idolized Walker, following his playbook page-by-page. Bevin teamed up with his Republican House and Senate majorities to make Kentucky a "right to work state." They repealed the prevailing wage; they've gone after the state workers' compensation, unemployment and Occupational Safety and Health programs.

Bevin and the Bevinites can't wait to finish off organized labor in a second term.

From Jordan to Jenkins, Kentucky workers know what's at stake Nov. 5. 

"Matt Bevin is an existential threat to the labor movement, and there can be no greater political imperative for the state of Kentucky than ensuring that he is as far away from the governor’s office as possible,” Richard Becker, a staff organizer with 32BJ Service Employees International Union, said in a post on the website last June.

In the same post, Bill Finn, state director of the Kentucky State Building and Construction Trades Council, said "Matt Bevin is the most anti-union, anti-worker governor in Kentucky's history—he’s to the right of Scott Walker.” 

Anyway, "As Maine goes, so goes the nation" is a famous political expression. It was coined because for years, the state usually went for winners in presidential elections. 

We've got a chance to update that old saw. Our endorsed candidate for governor, pro-union Democrat Andy Beshear, happens to be the Bluegrass State's sitting attorney general.

"As Maine goes, so goes Kentucky" has a nice ring to it.