Many eligible voters and potential voters are disenchanted with the election process because of the constant barrage of ugliness. It often takes the form of name calling, blatant exaggeration and sometimes just plain old misrepresentation.
Perhaps the most annoying tactic of all is filing lawsuits of questionable merit designed to eliminate a candidate from the race. That seems to be why Daniel Cameron’s candidacy for attorney general was brought into question.
This examination of the recent case is not intended as a criticism of the Jefferson County man who was listed as the plaintiff in the case. There are no facts regarding his sincerity in pursuing this case based on a state constitutional requirement.
It also is not intended as an endorsement of Cameron, the John Hardin High School graduate and former counsel to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
What needs to be said is this: When a judge can find 90 years worth of precedents to toss out the case – including an almost identical challenge in 1995 – it seems a waste of the court’s time and resources.
Furthermore, voters see it for what it is: a stunt to focus news coverage of Cameron’s youth.
Greg Stumbo is 68 and a former attorney general who is asking Kentucky voters to return him to elected office. He also served extensively in the legislature, including leadership roles. His campaign has been critical of Cameron’s inexperience, often citing a lack of prosecutorial experience.
Cameron is 33, which obviously means he has less life experience than his opponent. Some voters consider that as a negative. Others see a fresh outlook as a welcomed attribute.
And as Jefferson Circuit Judge Barry Willett said in his ruling, Kentucky courts long have said voters should be the ultimate judge of a candidate’s qualifications.
Cameron has been a lawyer admitted to the bar for eight years as the state constitution requires, although the legal debate, which still could be heard again on appeal, is about the specific wording of “practicing attorney” and what that means.
In 1995, the same question was raised to challenge Ben Chandler, who at the time had spent four of his eight years since passing the bar exam as Kentucky’s elected state auditor. He also won his legal challenge, which was cited by the judge in Cameron’s case.
What no voters should want is to have the courtroom tied up as a means to emphasize campaign talking points or try to embarrass an opponent. These two cases also illustrate neither party is pure and above such desperate tactics. With Cameron, it’s Democrats challenging a young Republican. In 1995, Republicans were filing against a young Democrat.
Stumbo was not part of the lawsuit, but he did have advance knowledge of it. During a campaign visit to Radcliff, he correctly mentioned a legal challenge would be filed the next day. His staff said he “had heard rumblings” about it.
The campaign did attempt to capitalize on it by issuing statements and news releases regarding Cameron’s testimony – again aimed at illustrating the obvious fact he has less experience than a man 35 years his senior.
Just like the governor’s race and other statewide contests on the Nov. 5 ballot, this race offers very distinctive differences.
Kentucky’s future is at stake.
Hopefully, the electorate will be able to look past the fussing and gamesmanship of the next two weeks to ferret out the facts and elect people of merit who match their views, hopes and dreams for a better Kentucky.