An Interview With Jack Conway

By now you’ve no doubt heard of Jack Conway. He’s the young, articulate, and progressive Attorney General for the state of Kentucky, and he’s running for Senate in the Democratic primary against Dan Mongiardo, the state’s conservative, allegedly corrupt Lieutenant Governor. The Conway campaign has taken off in recent weeks, going from 18 points down to 3 points down externally and ahead internally.

Conway, part of the MyDD “Going on Offense” Act Blue page, was able to give us an interview last Friday afternoon. He promised 15 minutes and graciously talked to me for 30. Our interview was pretty wide ranging. He began with a Howard Dean-esque quote, stating that it's time Democrats act like Democrats. We talked about electoral strategy, Wall Street reform, filibuster reform, health insurance reform, energy and climate legislation, coal mining, his successful record as Attorney General, and more. Here are some key quotes:

On LGBT rights: “Admiral Mullen had it right when he said to Congress that it’s wrong to ask someone to lie about who they are to defend their country…  I look forward to casting a vote to end Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

On health care and the tea parties: “I try to be responsible here. The folks in the tea party crowd wanted Attorneys General to file a lawsuit without merit. I thought traditionally Republicans loved to rail against meritless lawsuits… I sort of say to them, look, don’t take my word for it; take the word of Ronald Reagan’s former Solicitor General, who said his copy of the Constitution doesn’t contain the right not to be insured.”

On mining reform: “It seems like we’ve gotten into a system where the ability of the mining companies to [delay and appeal] and fail to take remedial action outweighs the safety of the miner… My concern is that some of these mines put profits before the safety of the miners, and when that happens, inspectors need to have the ability to shut the mine down.”

On Netroots support: “You are keeping some of the wind at our backs right now, and a Senate seat is a Senate seat is a Senate seat, whether it’s in New Hampshire or Missouri or Kentucky… It’s the work of volunteers and the Netroots that sustains us, and we’re going to win this thing.”

The full interview is below the fold. I consider Jack Conway one of the brightest and most articulate politicians I’ve ever spoken with, right up there with Barack Obama and Cory Booker, so I hope you’ll read the full interview and consider supporting his campaign.

There's more...

KY-Sen: Conway Takes The Lead In Internal Polling

I just got off the phone with Kentucky AG Jack Conway, the preferred candidate of the Netroots in the Democratic Primary for US Senate. I'll post our interview probably Sunday night, once I've had a chance to change my short-hand to prose, but there is one nuggest I wanted to post now:

Conway said that according to their internal polling, he's now moved ahead of Lt. Gov. Daniel Mongiardo in the primary. The most recent SurveyUSA poll, conducted last week, showed him three points behind Mongiardo, but that was before a number of scandals concerning Mongiardo's improper use of public funds became public. Internal polls show the scandals have made a difference.

I look forward to the next external scientific poll, but I think that come May 18 we're going to see a nominee Conway, and nothing could be better for the Democratic Party and the US Senate.

In addition to this polling news, the campaign had good news about its finances vis-a-vis both Mongiardo and the Republican candidates in a press release earlier today:

The campaign reported raising $215,684 for the quarter ending March 31, 2010, bringing its total raised to date to a whopping $2.5 million. Conway has raised more than any other candidate running for Senate, including Republicans Rand Paul and Trey Grayson. And as of the last reporting period ending December 31, 2009, Conway's chief Democratic opponent Daniel Mongiardo had raised only $1.47 million. But he had already burned through nearly half of that by the end of the year, leaving his campaign with only $783,000 cash on hand. On the other hand, the Conway campaign had $1.3 million cash on hand as of April 1, 2010.

KY-Sen: Mongiardo Tanking Amidst Accusations of Corruption

Repeated abuse of public funds. Refusal to debate substance. Tanking polls.

As Jerome highlighted earlier this week, Kentucky Lt. Gov. Daniel Mongiardo's campaign for Senate is falling apart at the seams. Attorney General Jack Conway has pulled into a dead heat with Mongiardo in the state’s Democratic Party, cutting the latter's lead from 45-27 to 35-32 in just five weeks, according to SurveyUSA. In addition to that poll, Conway won the Kentucky Young Democrats straw poll 57-37.

Conway’s surge is attributable to a number of reasons. Bloggers and the MSM alike have paid the most attention to Mongiardo’s opposition to health insurance reform. His language about the bill – a bill not a single one of the Senate Democrats he hopes to call “colleagues” opposed – is virtually identical to that of Repub Leader Mitch McConnell.

But the tightening in this contest may actually have more to do with alleged corruption than health care. Mongiardo’s campaign has been a haphazard train wreck for weeks now. For starters, Conway has won just about every debate against Mongiardo, of which there have been several. At the most recent, Conway said Mongiardo should return his $30,000 housing allowance given that he’s been living with his in-laws and used it to purchase land zoned for subdivision development. Mongiardo refused to address the substance of Conway’s challenge, saying only that “Jack Conway is a desperate man. He’s not done the work it takes to build a winning campaign, and now with five weeks left to go, he finds himself down by 18 points, and this is what he’s got.” No, sir. Three points.

As that exchange indicates, Mongiardo’s been caught red-handed in several scandals. The housing flap is just the beginning. As the Lexington Herald-Leader reports, “Mongiardo outspends Conway while traveling on public’s dime.”

Lt. Gov. Daniel Mongiardo has spent more than four times as much in taxpayer money on travel expenses as his primary opponent in the Democratic U.S. Senate primary, Attorney General Jack Conway.

The Lexington Herald-Leader reviewed travel-expense documents obtained under the state’s Open Records Act covering more than two years since the two men took office. They show that Mongiardo billed the state $33,000 for trips, including conferences and visits across the state. The Kentucky Democratic party reimbursed the state for one $4,000 trip. It cost at least $23,600 more for state troopers assigned to Mongiardo’s security detail to go with him.

There's more...

Jack Conway on NN

Conway is solid on Net Neutrality, which happens to be a pet interest-- so its said. Mongiardo says that Conway is running a shoddy campaign, but from my perspective, Conway has been aggresively shodding Mongiardo over the past month in this race to have pulled even. A very impressive show against a Mongiardo that got caught standing still and now appears a bit of shell-shocked.

On the GOP side, a real shocker with Bunning getting even, by endorsing Paul in the race. Trey Grayson said that Sarah Palin was not qualified to be President... thanks Trey for that piece of wisdom, you're toast now in the Republican primary.

[Update by Nathan Empsall:] I'm going to interview Jack Conway tomorrow. Let me know in the comments if you have suggestions for questions.


Going On Offense: Last Chance To Show Support

- Bumped. We're down to the final six hours. Let's do this.

Tonight at midnight is the first quarter FEC filing deadline. The press will soon know exactly how much money each candidate for office has raised in the first three months of this election year. You probably know this already because you've probably been inundated with last minute appeals from DFA and the DNC, DCCC, DSCC, and other groups.

But incessent e-mails or not, it really is important to make donations today rather than later, if at all possible with your financial situation. This is our last chance for months to show the media and unexcited voters that Democrats are energized, and that we won't back down because of violent Tea Parties, "repeal the bill" rhetoric, or scares from Charlie "it’s very hard to come up with a scenario where Democrats don’t lose the House." This is our last chance to set the tone of electoral coverage from now until July.

I wish I had the time to write specific posts about Jack Conway and Robin Carnahan, but please, do some quick digging yourself and consider donating to our Going On Offense candidates. Here are the summaries I wrote about each of them last week:

Robin Carnahan, MO-Sen – They say that as Missouri goes, so goes the nation, and in 2010, this might be the closest thing to a true toss-up anywhere on the Senate map. Secretary of State Robin Carnahan, a Missouri resident who still runs her family's farm in Rolla, has cracked down on financial predators and helped guide her office into the 21 Century. Her opponent, Roy Blount, was one of Tom DeLay's top lieutenants during the Bush administration. The choice is clear.

Jack Conway, KY-Sen – Jack Conway is the true progressive in the Democratic primary for Kentucky's open Senate seat. He supports health reform; his opponent, Dan Mongiardo, does not. He supports marriage equality; Mongiardo does not. Like Robert Byrd, he opposes mountaintop removal mining; Mongiardo supports it. We need Kentucky, and we need Jack Conway's record of success. BTW: the primary is in May, so this is the last chance to make a serious statement about Conway, who is actively looking for 500 new donors. He's my favorite candidate of the cycle. Please, help him out.

Paul Hodes, NH-Sen – Paul Hodes has been an outspoken, aggressive and unwavering proponent of real health care reform since his recent election to Congress. A true progressive hero, Hodes refused to give up when things were at their darkest after Scott Brown won the MA-Sen seat, writing on the Huffington Post, “The Washington Republican Party and their tea-party allies would take us back to the Bush years… Now is not the time for Democrats to shy away from a fight, to back down or run away from who we are. There is too much at stake.” Help Hodes, one of five Senate candidates endorsed by the Sierra Club, continue the remarkable red-to-blue trend New Hampshire has experienced in the last two cycles. For more, see yesterday's full post on Hodes.

Matt Dunne, VT-Gov –Spend just ten minutes with Matt Dunne and you'll realize that he has one of the deepest commitments to service and firmest grasps on public policy of anyone you’ve ever met. Matt, an executive at Google, is the former director of Americorps-VISTA and a former state senator. I know Matt from his '06 campaign for Lt. Governor and his time on staff at Dartmouth, and he is an amazing guy. His resume and his values are the right choice for Vermont and for the Democratic Party.

Tom White, NE-02 – For the first time in history, a state split its Electoral College vote when NE-02, which includes Omaha, cast its vote for Barack Obama. Let’s keep this district blue and send Terry packing. Help state Sen. Tom White, the author of Nebraska's Military Family Leave Act in 2007, take his record of success on education, civil rights, and workplace discrimination to Congress. White is one of the DCCC’s 13 “red to blue” candidates.


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