Don would like to congratulate his friend and colleague Mark Hebert on being inducted into the Kentucky Journalism Hall of Fame. He wrote a column on the subject for The Huffington Post (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/don-mcnay/how-rand-paul-may-owe-his_b_5195872.html?utm_hp_ref=fb&src=sp&comm_ref=false
), and here is an excerpt:
If Senator Rand Paul becomes President Rand Paul in 2017, he may have Kentucky Journalism Hall of Fame inductee Mark Hebert to thank.
Follow my logic here.
In 2002, Kentucky Governor Paul Patton was finishing his second term with high popularity ratings and his eye on taking on incumbent Senator Jim Bunning in 2004. An incumbent Governor in Kentucky has little trouble raising money and Patton had a terrific campaign organization. Odds are very strong that he would have beaten Bunning, who won his race in 1998 by a small margin.
Instead, Patton's political career was derailed when television journalist Mark Hebert broke the story of a fascinating scandal. While serving as Governor, Paul Patton was having an extramarital affair with Tina Conner, a nursing home operator that Patton had also appointed to Kentucky's lottery board.
Without Patton in the race, the Democrats went to a relatively unknown State Senator from Hazard, Dr. Daniel Mongiardo. Mongiardo was outspent about five to one by Bunning, but still came within a percentage point of winning. In a year when Presidential nominee John Kerry lost Kentucky by a large margin and an anti-gay marriage constitutional amendment brought out a large conservative vote.
Mongiardo gave himself a chance to win, but millionaire Paul Patton would have matched or exceeded Bunning in fundraising and organization and cruised to victory.
Bunning left the Senate at the end of the term and Rand Paul took his place. If Paul Patton had been Senator Paul Patton, it's unlikely that Rand Paul would have taken him on and even more unlikely that Paul would be elected.
It took a journalist with Mark Hebert's talents, and courage, to dig out a scandal about a sitting Governor and make it a national story. With a long-term national impact.