Rudolph, Mongiardo Agree With Running Mates On Casinos

LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) - Candidates for lieutenant governor agree
with their running mates on a proposed constitutional amendment
that could legalize casino gambling in Kentucky.
Republican Robbie Rudolph, Gov. Ernie Fletcher's slate mate,
said during a televised debate Monday that he would vote against
such an amendment if ever it appears on the ballot. Democrat Daniel
Mongiardo, gubernatorial challenger Steve Beshear's running mate,
said he would support such an initiative.
"It's not going to be more money for health care," Rudolph
said. "It's not going to be more money for education. It's a false
promise - fool's gold, if you will. Kentuckians will lose what they
have if they go to those casinos."
The words closely mirror Fletcher's language from previous
debates.
Fletcher and Rudolph have made their opposition to casinos a
centerpiece of their campaign. Beshear, meanwhile, has made his
support for casinos a major theme in his re-election efforts.
Mongiardo, echoing Beshear's stand, said residents already are
traveling to casinos in neighboring states and spending money that
could be kept in Kentucky.
"Most people in Kentucky want a chance to vote," Mongiardo
said. "I understand the reasons people are against it. I
understand the reasons people are for it. Steve and I believe that
(they) should make the choice."
Rudolph gave a resolute "absolutely not" when asked if he
would personally vote for a constitutional amendment to legalize
casinos. Mongiardo said he would vote for such an amendment if the
proceeds from casino taxes go to education, health care and
economic development.
"There are some scenarios that I could see that I could
potentially vote against it," Mongiardo said.
The candidates made the comments in a debate that was aired live
on Kentucky Educational Television. It was the candidates' first
televised debate of the campaign.
Eastern Kentucky University political scientist Kendra Stewart
said the typical Kentucky voter probably wouldn't stray from their
favorite television programs to watch candidates for lieutenant
governor face off, and that the event probably won't have a great
impact on the election's outcome.
"This level of debate doesn't garner much attention unless it's
a close race or something very interesting happens," she said.
"These types of debates only have impact if there's some type of
major gaffe."
Both Rudolph and Mongiardo have been low-key in the governor's
race, though Mongiardo, an eastern Kentucky physician, drew public
scrutiny in early October for refusing to cross a picket line at
Hazard Appalachian Regional Hospital where registered nurses are on
strike.
Fletcher, who also is a physician, raised the issue during a
debate in Louisville, claiming that Mongiardo chose to align with
union interests rather than patients. Rudolph repeated the charge
on Monday.
Mongiardo said he is continuing to take care of patients with
medical emergencies and urgent cases but supports more than 630
registered nurses at Hazard and six other Kentucky hospitals, plus
two in West Virginia, who have been on strike since Oct. 1.
Weeks of negotiations between the union and hospital
administrators came to an impasse over several issues, including
staffing ratios, mandatory overtime and pay raises. The nurses also
want better retirement and medical benefits.
Rudolph and Mongiardo voiced their loyalty to their running
mates - even to the point of resigning if called upon to do so.
That wasn't the case with current Lt. Gov. Steve Pence, who
opted not to seek re-election with Fletcher and who refused to
resign after Fletcher asked him to. Pence chose to abandon
Fletcher's re-election effort last year after the governor was
indicted on charges - which were later dismissed in a negotiated
agreement with prosecutors - of improperly rewarding political
supporters with protected state jobs.
"Yes, if the governor asked me to resign the office of
lieutenant governor, yes, I would resign," Rudolph said. "The
only reason I'm here in Frankfort is because of Governor Fletcher,
and the only reason I'm a candidate running with him is because of
Governor Fletcher and this administration. I'm very loyal to the
administration, the management team ... and I'm going to stay with
them until they ask me to leave."
Mongiardo said he doesn't believe Beshear would ever be involved
in activities like those Fletcher was accused of.
"But if he had acted the way our current governor has, he
wouldn't have to ask me to resign," Mongiardo said. "I would
leave, as many of the current administration has left and resigned
out of disgust."

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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