Rhetoric. That’s what I hear from local Conservatives regarding their “shot” at ever winning Louisville Mayor. If I hear someone say, “if Hal couldn’t do it, no one can,” one more time, I may barf. Again. Yes, Republicans missed a great opportunity in 2010 by failing to elect former Councilman Hal Heiner as Metro Mayor. However, those same individuals who powered Heiner to a near victory in 10′ seem to have forgotten that the possibility of revenge is just under 19 months away.
On the morning of April 23rd, Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer announced his intentions to seek re-election for a second term in Metro Hall. Denying a bid for U.S Senate & Governor, Fischer opted to begin his 2014 re-election campaign in a downtown Louisville press-conference citing “his” accomplishments on getting the Ohio River Bridges Project underway, assembling 107k volunteers to participate in his “Give A Day” week of service, & job growth. This may have sounded nice in a fancy press conference, but don’t expect all that jazz to be the center of his campaign just yet. As in 2010, expect Fischer to slap his face on as many public events in the Highlands, Louisville’s west end, & establish a presence on Dixie Highway.
Greg Fischer surely got his money’s worth in 10′. The mega-wealthy businessman & his campaign spent all but $9k of his $2.5-MILLION war chest. Republican Hal Heiner did everything right. Painted himself as Conservative, but not Libertarian. He sold himself to voters as a successful businessman without the “Mitt Romney” persona. Hal was able to re-create & capture that little piece of “special” that other successful county-wide GOP officials like fmr Rep. Anne Northup & fmr County Judge Executive Mitch McConnell once enjoyed. For the first time since the early Northup days, local Republicans had something to believe in, a campaign they felt obligated to help. But, as the story goes, Hal Heiner would lose to Fischer 51-49%.
Think about it, with Hal Heiner practically declaring himself “out” for 2014, if you were Greg Fischer, why would you not run for re-election? The GOP has no candidate, he’s likely to avoid any serious primary challenger, and enjoys an even larger Democrat majority on the Metro Council than his infamous predecessor, Lt. Governor Jerry Abramson. If I’m Greg Fischer, I’m sitting on cloud nine. I’ve heard many local officials admit, “unless Papa John or Patti Swope run, we won’t get close to winning Mayor.” I disagree.
In my opinion, Republicans have one last “real” prospect to challenge Greg Fischer. Yes, we could pretend for a few months that some generic GOP candidate could defeat Fischer, heck, we could probably raise a few dollars off the idea, but the time to get serious about the 2014 Elections is upon us. I personally believe our local & state Republican Party should be encouraging Jefferson County Clerk Bobbie Holsclaw to challenge Greg Fischer for Metro Mayor. Call me crazy, but this is our best candidate for victory in 14′.
Let me explain. Bobbie Holsclaw was first elected County Clerk in November of 1998. She has outlasted any/all other county-wide GOP officials including Congresswoman Anne Northup & appointed PVA John May. Bobbie survived even the toughest of cycles for Republicans in Louisville, including 2006. Oh, and while Heiner spent $2-million on his failed bid for Mayor, Holsclaw spent under $30k & led the ticket for a Republicans, including Heiner. In her most recent re-election for County Clerk, Holsclaw receieved 165,868 of 253k votes. Regardless of where you travel in Metro Louisville, Bobbie Holsclaw is a recognizable name, familiar face, and trusted government official.
Ok, fine. The last two years has been sort of a rollercoaster for Holsclaw. In 2011, Bobbie expressed interest in joining the Republican primary for Kentucky Governor. Almost instantly, inner party operatives began to bully, excuse me, encourage Holsclaw to either run for Secretary of State or simply sit out. This didn’t seem to stop Bobbie from entering the race, traveling the state, and making her case to primary voters. Yes, she lost. Big time. But we could take a few things from this. One being how she responded to individuals saying “don’t do it” or “you won’t win.” It didn’t discourage Bobbie, it gave her life. The second being: despite facing a very known State Senate President & a challenge from a fellow Louisvillian, Holsclaw won Jefferson County. This only reaffirmed her popularity not only with area Conservatives, but in a race for higher political office.
Also, in late 2012, Democrat State Auditor Adam Edelen published a critical review of Bobbie Holsclaw’s handling of the Jefferson County Clerk’s office. The audit suggested that Holsclaw had wrongfully awarded gas cards to her employee’s, should not have collected donations for the Crusade for Children, & did not comply with state law on rewarding end-of-the-year bonuses to employee’s. Edelen quickly ate his words. Bobbie Holsclaw took to local media to reveal her side of the story. She offered sit down interviews, radio appearances, and frequent press releases defending her office & position. Local media accepted Bobbie’s argument that the so called “audit” was purely motivated by Edelen’s political ambitions. She was even quoted saying, “the next Governor’s race is still many years away.” It’s this attitude that makes Clerk Bobbie Holsclaw a rare bread.
When voters look at Bobbie Holsclaw, they don’t think scandal, greed, self interest, or even politician. Louisvillians know the Clerk as one of them, almost in grandmother perspective. I’ve gotten to know Bobbie Holsclaw very well in the past few years. When I’ve called, she’s answered. When I’ve had a question, she knew the answer. This is a woman who cherishes the time she has with her four children, ten grandchildren, and husband, Ed. Don’t let her age or appearance fool you; when I’m looking for someone to “bring the fire” at an event I’m organizing, you better believe Bobbie Holsclaw is at the top of my list. She cares, she has a passion for service, a vision for Louisville, and trust me, Democrats fear the day the woman known simply as “Bobbie” taps her political clout here in Louisville. She knows where the bones are buried, and Greg Fischer couldn’t write a check big enough to slow this Grandma down.