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For the first time, Republican Hal Heiner has the lead in a poll of the Louisville mayor’s race.

The Bluegrass Poll conducted for WHAS-11 and the Courier-Journal shows Heiner with 51 percent of the vote, compared to Democratic candidate Greg Fischer’s 44 percent.

The first Bluegrass Poll in the race showed the two candidates tied. Subsequent polls have given Fischer the lead. Fischer spokesperson Chris Poynter says internal polls show that the race is even, and the campaign will continue its “get out the vote” efforts as planned.

“The closer we get to November 2nd, the more Democrats are going to get more energized and they’re definitely going to get out and vote Tuesday,” says Poynter.

Heiner campaign manager Joe Burgan says the poll shows that voters who were putting off making a decision have now chosen to side with Heiner.

“People push back making their decisions in these races later and later every year,” he says. “So, based on our internal polling, it matches. People have started to tune into this race to make their decision.”

The poll was conducted between October 21st and 25th, after independent Jackie Green dropped out to endorse Fischer. Polls conducted for Insight’s CN2 news service have given Fischer the lead in the race.

Independent Jackie Green‘s decision to end his campaign for mayor and endorse Democratic candidate Greg Fischer has drawn more attention than any other endorsement or issue in the race.

There were conflicting accounts of what Green asked for, received and expected in exchange for his endorsement, with the two most disparate coming from the Courier-Journal and LEO Weekly. The CJ’s story did not include any references to an e-mail from Green to his campaign staff in which the candidate said there may be a role for the Green campaign team inside a Fischer administration. It’s unclear what Green meant by this, but the sentence has led to a conflict between the two papers that has–in the local media–nearly eclipsed the candidates’ controversy.

Fischer has released a television ad claiming vindication through the CJ’s story. The Republican Party of Kentucky has cited LEO’s story as a reason why the Attorney General’s office should investigate the Fischer campaign. (The Democratic party has filed a similar complaint against Republican candidate Hal Heiner‘s campaign over former Democratic candidate Tyler Allen‘s endorsement.)

So how could two media outlets investigate the same situation and end up with different results? The answer is one that draws us into journalism’s persistent quandaries of anonymous sources and the costs of access. The reporters who did the investigating have discussed their process in The Edit’s comment section:

Former Democratic mayoral candidates Tyler Allen, Shannon White and Lisa Moxley appear in the latest one-minute television ad from Republican candidate Hal Heiner. The three Democrats have endorsed Heiner in the race.

The spot paints Heiner as a change candidate, playing on the fact that there hasn’t been a Republican mayor of Louisville since the late 1960s. There has, however, been a Republican Judge Executive since then. Rebecca Jackson was the last Judge Executive before merger, and the last to have real power in government.

Other former Democratic candidates David Tandy and Jim King, and independent Jackie Green have endorsed Democratic candidate for mayor Greg Fischer.

The latest polls from Insight’s CN2 give…

Democratic incumbent Congressman John Yarmuth a 26-point lead over Republican challenger Todd Lally (57.9% to 31.4% with 2.6% undecided)

Democratic mayoral candidate Greg Fischer a 9-point lead over Republican candidate Hal Heiner (46.7% to 36.8% with 11.6% undecided)

Both Democrats have extended their leads since previous CN2 polls, but WHAS-11/Courier-Journal Bluegrass Polls have put both races closer. The CN2 polls were conducted by Braun Research on October 18th and 19th.

Here’s an interesting bit from the story on the mayoral poll:

Danny Briscoe, a longtime political consultant who resides in Louisville, said if Fischer is up nearly double digits, developments in his campaign — such as changing his position on how to address the school assignment plan and the questions surrounding the Green endorsement — shouldn’t be happening.

“I’m amazed he’s doing all the things he’s doing (if he’s up nine),” Briscoe said. “It seems inconsistent to me that he would be doing those things.”

The poll shows that Jefferson County is leaning heavily Democratic in a year where the Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate hails from Louisville, and the area’s congressman, U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth, is also on the ballot.

The poll also shows out-going Louisville mayor Jerry Abramson with a 71 percent approval rating.

The third paragraph confirms what U of L professor Jasmine Farrier said in a recent story.

Former Democratic mayoral candidate Tyler Allen says he was not promised any input in the next mayoral administration in exchange for his endorsement.

Earlier today, Metro Council President Tom Owen said he had talked with Allen in September, and Allen said he had been promised “significant input” in a potential Hal Heiner administration, should he endorse the Republican in the general election.

“I don’t know how Tom interpreted that,” says Allen.

Allen says he had already decided to support Heiner, but decided to take his endorsement to the campaign and the public because he “thought [Heiner] would challenge the status quo.” Allen met with both Heiner and Democratic candidate Greg Fischer before publicly endorsing Heiner, but he says he was not promised any input on transportation issues, or any other topic.

The Kentucky Democratic Party has asked the Attorney General’s office to investigate the issue.

The accusation that Allen’s endorsement was traded for influence comes after the Heiner campaign accused Democratic candidate Greg Fischer of offering power to independent Jackie Green in exchange for support. Green dropped out of the race last week and endorsed Fischer. E-mails reveal that Green thought he and his team may have a role inside of Metro Government, but it’s not clear what that role would be. The Fischer campaign says nothing was promised to Green–he was simply told that if Fischer won the election, Green would be asked to advise the mayor on the creation of an office of sustainability in Metro Government.

The Republican Party of Kentucky asked the Attorney General’s office to investigate the issue earlier this week.

Allen says he doesn’t have any e-mails that discuss his endorsement. Joe Burgan with the Heiner campaign released the following messages:

From: Joe Burgan [mailtoxxxxxxxxxx]
Sent: Wednesday, September 08, 2010 11:03 AM
To: [tyler allen]
Subject: Press Release

Here’s where we are.

______________________________________
Democratic Mayoral Candidate Tyler Allen Endorses Hal Heiner for Mayor

LOUISVILLE, KY – Citing Hal’s ability to lead Louisville from day one and provide a fresh start for Metro government, former Democratic mayoral candidate Tyler Allen today endorsed Hal Heiner for Mayor.

<>

Hal enthusiastically welcomed Tyler into the campaign.

“Tyler represents the next generation of leadership in Louisville and I’m honored to have his endorsement,” stated Mr. Heiner. “His energy and commitment to Louisville was unmatched in the Democratic primary and I look forward to working closely with him as we move forward in the final weeks of this campaign.”

Mr. Allen is the second Democratic mayoral candidate to endorse the Heiner for Mayor Campaign, joining former Democratic mayoral candidate Shannon White.
And…

From: Joe Burgan [mailto:xxxxxxxxxxx]
Sent: Thursday, September 09, 2010 9:52 AM
To: [Tyler Allen]
Cc: ‘Riggs Lewis’
Subject: Statement with a few tweaks

What do you think?

“This election is about the serious business of building Louisville’s future and I believe Hal Heiner is the only candidate with the passion and experience to lead this city from day one,” stated Mr. Allen. “While we may not agree on everything, I firmly believe Hal is a leader we can trust to move this city forward and fulfill the promises of merger. His openness to innovative ideas and willingness to bring new people into the process will make Louisville an even better place to live in the years to come.”

So to review…

The Heiner campaign (and the Republican Party of Kentucky, which has asked the Attorney General’s office to investigate the Fischer/Green endorsement) says Jackie Green was promised power over a (currently nonexistent) Metro Government office if he would drop out of the race and endorse Fischer. Green told LEO he was on the short list to run the department, but later said the e-mail which reveals that he was anticipating a role inside Metro Government could be incorrect, since he may not accurately remember what he discussed with the Fischer campaign.  The Fischer campaign says Green will be like many other advisers Fischer has throughout the community, and calls Heiner’s accusations of wrongdoing “sour grapes.”

The Fischer campaign and Metro Council President Tom Owen say Tyler Allen was promised similar influence over transportation issues. The Heiner campaign denies this. Currently, the only documents available show Heiner campaign manager Joe Burgan (Burgan worked for Allen at 8664, which Allen co-founded) sending drafts of a press release to Allen. Allen says he was planning to endorse Heiner since shortly after losing the May primary.

It is against state law to offer “things of value” in exchange for votes.

This issue came up Thursday in a mayoral debate at the Louisville Rotary Club.

Here is full audio of the debate.

Here is Greg Fischer afterward.

Here is Hal Heiner afterward.

Here is Tyler Allen afterward.

What are your thoughts on this whole ordeal? Does it sound like it isn’t anything new? Does it matter that Green made his endorsement while he was still an active candidate, while Allen did not?

Or is all of this, as Green’s former campaign manager Tyler Hess says, distracting from the more important issues in the race, such as the ones that Green and Allen championed in their campaigns?

Thanks to Sheila Ash for the audio.

The latest turn in the mayoral endorsement controversy comes from Metro Council President Tom Owen.

Own has told Democratic candidate Greg Fischer‘s campaign that Republican Hal Heiner promised former Democratic candidate Tyler Allen input on transportation issues in exchange for Allen’s endorsement.

From the Fischer campaign:

Owen said he met with Allen in September just before Allen announced he was endorsing Heiner. The two met for an hour at the McDonald’s at Warnock Avenue and Floyd St. at U of L.

Owen called Allen and arranged the meeting because he heard that Allen was about to announce he was backing Heiner.

“Tyler clearly stated to me that he was promised by the Heiner campaign to have input into transportation issues, if he endorsed Heiner and if Heiner won,” Owen said. “Mr. Heiner, whom I respect, is being a hypocrite. I call on Hal to come clean with the public and with the voters.”

Owen is referring to the controversy over how independent Jackie Green decided to endorse Fischer.

Heiner campaign manager Joe Burgan says the accusations are “100 percent false,” and he will say more after today’s Rotary Club debate. He tells LEO he will release all e-mails between the Heiner campaign and Allen later today. Allen was unavailable for comment.

 

Recently-released e-mails shed light on negotiations between independent mayoral candidate Jackie Green and Democratic candidate Greg Fischer‘s staff.

Green dropped out of the mayor’s race last week to endorse Fischer. Republican candidate Hal Heiner has criticized the endorsement as the result of a “backroom deal” that would give Green power in Metro Government. The Fischer campaign says it did nothing wrong.

The endorsement talks centered on Fischer’s proposed cabinet-level office of sustainability. Green told WFPL last week he would endorse Fischer if the office would have significant power in Metro Government, and if Green and his campaign staff could have a role in deciding that office’s leader.

E-mails released Tuesday (more) show the Fischer campaign was willing to adopt some of Green’s positions, and that Green believed he and his team could have a role in a Fischer administration. Green told LEO Weekly that his name was on the short list to lead the office of sustainability.

The Fischer campaign says Green was not offered a job, though the independent will have input on creating the office of sustainability, if Fischer wins the election.

Here is an excerpt of an e-mail Green sent to his staff:

The Gt also raised the issue of our team playing a role inside gov. – should Greg get lucky ; ) .

Green told WHAS he may have mis-remembered what happened.

State law prohibits candidates from exchanging a “thing of value” for votes. Republican Hal Heiner’s campaign contends that Fischer did just that, and has criticized Fischer for being secretive about negotiations with Green. The Fischer campaign says an offer for an advisory role does not violate the law. No formal complaints have been filed.

Republican mayoral candidate Hal Heiner‘s latest ad is the most critical yet of the general election. In it, Heiner accuses Democratic candidate Greg Fischer of making a backroom deal for independent Jackie Green‘s endorsement.

Green previously told multiple media outlets (WFPL included) that he would drop out of the race and endorse Fischer if Fischer promised to, if elected:

  1. Give “real power” to his proposed Office of Sustainability
  2. Let the Jackie Green for Mayor team have input on choosing that office’s leadership

Heiner has called on the two to release any e-mails they traded regarding the endorsement. Both sides have refused.

Previously, Chris Poynter with Heiner’s campaign called the Republican’s reaction “sour grapes,” and said there was no deal made, though Green will have an advisory role in creating the Office of Sustainability, if Fischer is elected.

Independent mayoral candidate Jackie Green‘s decision to withdraw from the race and endorse Democratic candidate Greg Fischer was surprising. Even members of Green’s staff were caught off guard.

The endorsement came at the end of the weekly news cycle: 6:30 on Friday. Monday, Republican candidate Hal Heiner criticized Fischer’s methods for securing the endorsement, and asked the candidates to release any documents they traded in the days leading up to the announcement. Heiner says Fischer effectively gave Green a degree of control over a (currently nonexistent) metro office in exchange for his support. The Fischer campaign says if Fischer wins, Green will advise the administration on the creation of an Office of Sustainability. Green previously told WFPL he wanted the office to have “real power” in Metro Government and he wanted his campaign team to choose the office’s leadership.

Heiner called the endorsement agreement a “backroom deal.” That reflects previous jabs Heiner has taken at Fischer. In a debate at Bellarmine, Heiner accused his opponent of meeting with current Metro Government employees to discuss a potential Fischer administration. Fischer said he wanted to learn about how various city departments work. When Police Chief Robert White was looking for other jobs, Fischer said he would keep the chief on staff. Heiner blasted Fischer for making personnel decisions during a campaign.

LEO has more on the legality of the endorsement:

The Heiner campaign highlights the e-mail conversations that took place between Green and the Fischer campaign, which indicates that the environmental activist had entered into written negotiations about turning over authority to the new office in exchange for his political support.

[edit]

The Heiner campaign points out that such agreements are against state law, which says that candidates are prohibited from making promises or contracts in consideration for support. According to the statuette, any person who knowingly violates that provisions could be guilty of a Class D felony.

Last week, the Courier-Journal called Green a potential spoiler in the mayor’s race. We wondered how likely that was, and how likely Green’s voters might be to vote for another candidate. Green will still be on the ballot, and a few supporters say they will still vote for him.

Here is the WFPL story:

Independent mayoral candidate Jackie Green says he could drop out of the race.

Green says he’s met with Democratic candidate Greg Fischer twice in the last week. Green says if the Fischer campaign could meet certain criteria, he would drop out of the race and endorse Fischer. Green wants Fischer to promise to limit the development of greenfields and put a higher priority on public transit. Failing that, Green says he wants Fischer to create a strong office of sustainability.

“Put real power in that office and let us elect the leadership of that office,” he says. “Us being the Jackie Green for mayor team.”

Green says he’s not specifically asking to lead the office, and he has not been offered a job. Green says Republican Hal Heiner‘s campaign has said they want him in the race.

A spokesperson for Heiner says the negotiations with Green are a sign that Fischer is desperate to win votes. Recent polls have show Fischer either statistically tied with or slightly leading Heiner, with Green polling below three percent.

Here is the Joe Burgan with the Heiner campaign’s full response:

Apparently Greg Fischer has found it so difficult to win votes he’s now resorting to wheeling and dealing Metro salaries for endorsements.  Louisville deserves an open, honest and accountable government that works for the people, not the benefit of a political campaign.

Here is LEO’s story. Here is the CJ’s.

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