Longtime McConnell aide Cox handicaps fall races, explains P'Pool's 'independent' strategy

06/06/2011 07:08 AM

While supporting the GOP candidates this fall, Hopkins County Attorney Todd P’Pool will run his own race independent of the Republican slate, said Larry Cox, who is campaign chairman for P’Pool and former state director for U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell.

Cox retired from McConnell’s office after 26 years as his state director. And he joined P’Pool’s campaign last winter.

Cox also gave Republicans a 50-50 chance of capturing the governor’s office based mostly on what he said are the political weaknesses of incumbent Gov. Steve Beshear.

P’Pool told Pure Politics on the May 17 primary night that he planned to run an “independent” race from the other Republican candidates.

“One of my rules is that you may be part of a broader ticket in a local race or statewide race, but you have to run your own campaign,” Cox said on Friday’s Pure Politics, starting at around the 2:36 mark of the segment. “Otherwise, you’ll find yourself depending on others to set your theme … You have to run a campaign that is designed and executed by yourself.”

That goes back to McConnell’s first election win in 1977 when he was running for Jefferson County judge executive. McConnell frustrated some Republicans when he “de-linked” himself from the GOP slate of local candidates, as John David Dyche wrote in his biography of McConnell.

McConnell was the only one to win that fall.

“I learned from that, and I also learned from our campaign for re-election in 1981 when we did run as a slate — as a ticket — and darn near lost that campaign,” Cox said (at 3:40).

Cox said the race against Democratic Attorney General Jack Conway will probably

McConnell will “be more involved” in helping P’Pool raise money, and both McConnell and U.S. Sen. Rand Paul have pledged to hold a joint fund-raiser this week in Washington.

And beyond the top two races on the ballot, the agriculture commissioner race is likely the Republicans’ best chance to win with state Rep. Jamie Comer followed by the state treasurer’s race with K.C. Crosbie going up against incumbent Democratic Treasurer Todd Hollenbach, Cox said around the 8:20 mark.

In the second segment of the interview, Cox said he didn’t think much of the political ability and leadership of Beshear, the Democratic governor who is running for re-election this year.

Beshear, after serving as attorney general and lieutenant governor in the 1980s, challenged McConnell in 1996.

“My respect is not very substantial,” he said (1:05). “Quite frankly, the ’96 race is one I thoroughly enjoyed. And I’m someone who is pretty stern about this business and gets rather tense about it.”

Cox said Beshear was “a little bit of a surprise candidate” as Republicans were preparing for other candidates, such as businessman Charlie Owen and Louisville Mayor Jerry Abramson, who is now Beshear’s running mate.

“He really was not up to facing a top-level, hard-hitting contender,” Cox said (2:10). And as for Beshear now, he said: “I do not think he’s sharpened his political skills.” (2:35)

Here’s that segment:

- Ryan Alessi


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