Thursday, September 14, 2006

Let the Attack Ads Begin

John Yarmuth has taken the semi-high road by not directly attacking Ann Northup. Ann and the Republican smear machine can't be depended on to do the same, of course.

First, Anne attacks Yarmuth for a supposed flip flop on the bridges. First he was against the East End bridge, and now, according to Anne's website, John says in today’s Courier-Journal that he has always been for the East End bridge! But I've read the article several times and I don't see where it says that. Northup has ads that have just come out that claim he's flip flopped on several more issues.

Now I don't know if this is true. Ann dcites LEO editorials. As the LEO Weekly pointed out in an article several weeks back, LEO doesn't have a great archival system. In fact, they only have a single archival copy of many issues. That didn't stop Anne from making an ass out of herself requesting all of the issues (800 plus), photocopying them, and now apparently having her staff scour every one of them for a quote they can use, whether in context or not.

I find it interesting that political campaigns make so much out of "Flip Flopping". Show me a person who hasn't changed his position on something in their lifetime and I'll show you an idiot.... like W. It's not even clear that John is flip flopping from what is shown. After all, many of us have flip flopped on the Iraq war after it became clear that the Government knew there was no connection at all. What seems like a good idea or bad idea at the time can turn out to be the opposite when the details are fleshed out.

I really wish that Ann would take the high road. Of course, that would require her to stand on her own terrible record.

Yarmuth, Northup clash on bridges
Each says other's support is lacking
By Marcus Green
The Courier-Journal

By Marcus Green
The Courier-Journal

Ask Louisville's leading congressional candidates where they stand on a $2.5 billion project to build two bridges across the Ohio River, and they'll tell you they wholeheartedly support it.

Ask them where their opponent stands -- and you'll get a much different answer.

Republican U.S. Rep. Anne Northup's campaign says Democratic challenger John Yarmuth's current support contradicts his past opposition to an East End bridge.

Yarmuth, in turn, says Northup's support has fallen short of securing enough federal money to push the project forward.

"I've always said I'm for as many bridges as we can build, as we can afford to build," said Yarmuth, who lives near the eastern bridge route. "I have serious questions as to whether there's going to be enough money to build these projects -- always have and still do -- but it's not a question of support for them at all."

Northup's campaign says work has begun, including the eastern bridge approach, with a bridge design expected soon.

"For John Yarmuth to suggest that we are no closer to an East End bridge is just baffling," said Patrick Neely, Northup's campaign manager.

The other two candidates for the 3rd District seat say they oppose part of the bridges project.

Constitution Party candidate W. Ed Parker said he favors an eastern bridge, but not a second downtown. Libertarian Donna Mancini said she would support bridges at either end of the Snyder Freeway.

Northup's accusations against Yarmuth stem from a 1991 newspaper column he wrote questioning a possible East End bridge; a 2005 television appearance in which he agrees that the bridge is a "stupid idea"; and his tenure as a trustee of River Fields, a conservation group opposed to an eastern bridge.

In 1991, Yarmuth wrote in the weekly LEO paper that he founded that an eastern bridge couldn't be justified on the basis of alleviating traffic downtown or creating a downtown bypass.

He wrote in part: "([T)here are a lot of roads that end somewhere, and, until I hear some better reasons for spending $250 million, I think U.S. 42 is as good a place as any for the Snyder to stop."

Yarmuth defends the column, saying that at the time there was talk about a new Ohio River bridge -- but no formal plan to build two bridges.

The current plan grew out of a 2001 study determining that the best solution to the region's traffic woes would be to build two bridges and untangle Spaghetti Junction, where interstates 64, 65 and 71 converge downtown.

Yarmuth said in the 15 years since he wrote his bridge column, "there have been a lot better reasons offered (for an East End bridge), namely economic development ones."

An eastern bridge would, for example, benefit Ford's Kentucky Truck Plant on Chamberlain Lane just off the Snyder, he said. The plant has expanded several times since 1991, adding new truck production and several shifts that have boosted employment.

In remarks on the WAVE-3 "Hot Button" program last year, Yarmuth agreed with commentator Jim Milliman, who said Northup ought to support a proposed southwestern Jefferson County bridge and "get rid of this stupid idea for an East End bridge that does nothing but bail out Southern Indiana."

"You won't get any disagreement … from me on that," Yarmuth told Milliman during the telecast. "The arguments for the southwest bridge are more compelling than the ones for an East End bridge, particularly for traffic congestion."

But Yarmuth said this week that he was not agreeing with everything Milliman said.

"I was trying to get on to something else and didn't want to argue with him about every little point he made," Yarmuth said. "He made about three or four different points there."

Speaking to reporters in Louisville late last month, Northup accused Yarmuth of opposing the bridges project. She questioned his past association with River Fields, a preservation group that favors a downtown bridge and redesigning Spaghetti Junction but opposes an East End bridge.

This week, Neely said Yarmuth is not coming clean on the bridges issue.

"He won't even be honest about his position on the East End bridge," Neely said.

Yarmuth was a River Fields trustee from September 2004 to March 2006. He defended his tenure on the board, saying that River Fields is dedicated to other environmental causes besides the bridges.

"One of the reasons that I resigned from the River Fields board was because I didn't want to be put in the position of being bound by their position as it relates to bridges and everything else they're involved in," he said.

Yarmuth accused Northup of trying to make the election about the bridges rather than the Iraq war, health care and prescription drugs for seniors, among other issues. But he also attacked Northup's record on helping get money for the bridges.

"The critical factor here is what Anne Northup and the Congress have done to fund these bridges so far. And as far as I'm concerned, we're no further along in this bridge project than we were five years ago," he said. "There's really nothing that's been done. She hasn't been able to procure the funding that's been necessary."

Northup's campaign says that isn't true.

In July 2005, Kentucky and Indiana delegates helped secure $58 million in federal funds for the bridges project from the transportation bill. Last winter, Northup lobbied in Frankfort for the project, which received $789 million in the state's six-year highway plan.

The bridges project is expected to cost $2.5 billion, with Kentucky picking up an estimated $1.7 billion.

Reporter Marcus Green can be reached at (502) 582-4675.

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