February 3, 1900: William Goebel Assassinated

Wednesday, February 3, AD 2016

Only one sitting governor in the history of the United States has been assassinated, which is remarkable over two hundred and forty years of history and the number of men who have served as governors.  The very unlucky man was William Justus Goebel.  A Democrat, Goebel had an abrasive personality.  He was not a glad-hander, greeting only his closest friends.  His features were described as reptilian.  Nonetheless, his championship of populist economics as a Democrat gave him the political heft to win a State Senate seat in Kentucky.

In 1895 he had a shootout with a political opponent, former Confederate General John Lawrence Sanford.  Goebel had referred to Sanford as Gonorrhea John in a newspaper article.  Witnesses were not sure who fired first.  Sanford’s bullet passed through Goebel’s coat and ripped his trousers.  Goebel’s bullet hit Sanford’s head, Sanford dying five hours later.  Placed on trial, Goebel claimed self-defense and was acquitted.

Goebel ran for Governor as a Democrat in 1899.  He was opposed by Republican William Taylor and John Y. Brown, a former Democrat governor, who ran as the candidate of a faction of the Kentucky Democrats.  Taylor won the election, beating Goebel by 2,383 votes.  The Democrat controlled General Assembly invalidated enough votes to allow Goebel to win.  Republicans were incensed and the state seemed to be heading for civil war.  William Taylor was sworn in pending a judicial determination of who won.

On January 30, 1900 Goebel, while walking near the State Capitol in Frankfort, came under fire from persons unknown.  Five or six shots were fired from the State Capitol with one seriously wounded in the chest.  The next day Goebel was sworn in as governor, dying on February 3, 1900.  The Kentucky Court of Appeals eventually ruled that the General Assembly had acted legally in having Goebel sworn in.

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4 Responses to February 3, 1900: William Goebel Assassinated

Bluegrass State Goes GOP

Wednesday, November 4, AD 2015


Yesterday, in a move ominous for Democrats in 2016, the GOP had a very good night in Kentucky.  This is significant in that Kentucky is a state where Democrats have tended to dominate at the state wide level, even while Kentucky was reliably Republican in Federal elections:

Republican Matt Bevin easily won Kentucky’s governorship on Tuesday as the GOP made major inroads in a state that had stubbornly resisted the party at the state level even as it voted reliably Republican in federal contests in recent years.

Bevin, a self-funding investment manager, rode a late surge of outside support from national Republicans to defeat Democrat Jack Conway, 53 percent to 44 percent, according to The Associated Press. Bevin will become just the second Republican to inhabit the governor’s mansion in Frankfort in more than four decades.


Polls prior to the vote showed a close race, with most surveys giving Conway, the state’s sitting attorney general, a slight advantage.

Bevin’s victory capped a successful night for Republicans, who picked up four of the six independently elected statewide positions despite going into Tuesday with just one GOP officeholder. Their victories included ousting state Auditor Adam Edelen, who was thought to be Democrats’ top pick to challenge GOP Sen. Rand Paul next year.

It also marked a stunning political turnaround for Bevin, who has spent $7 million trying to win elected office between this run and his failed 2014 Senate primary against now-Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. In 2014, he lost the primary to McConnell by 25 percentage points and was mocked by fellow Republicans as an “East Coast Con Man” and a supporter of cockfighting. He entered the governor’s race just hours before the filing deadline and won a May primary against two more establishment-oriented Republicans by a mere 83 votes.

The general election was ugly, with both candidates repeatedly impugning the other’s integrity and Conway repeatedly blitzing Bevin with negative ads branding the eventual victor as a hypocrite and a liar. Bevin was outspent for most of the contest and had his tactics consistently questioned by his fellow Republicans. But a late $2.5 million spending blitz from the Republican Governors Association helped Bevin close the gap in television advertising in the final weeks.

“We need a fresh start. We truly do,” Bevin said in his victory speech. “We’ve run this race our way. We have not chosen to go into the trough. We’ve taken the proverbial high road.”

Bevin, who has often clashed with the party establishment in the state, said he was happy Republicans swept into state offices, but noted he was even “more grateful tonight was such a good night for conservatives in Kentucky.”

Bevin’s win throws into doubt the future of KyNect, the state’s Obamacare exchange, and Medicaid expansion in the state. It also means that an expansion of early childhood education — something Conway had made a priority — is unlikely in the near future.

The Republican gains continue two distressing Obama-era trends for Democrats. The party will now hold just 17 governorships, down from 29 in 2008. Only one of those governors — Virginia’s Terry McAuliffe — hails from the South. (Democrats will have a chance to pick up a governor’s mansion in the South on Nov. 21, when Democrat John Bel Edwards faces GOP Sen. David Vitter in Louisiana’s gubernatorial race.)

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3 Responses to Bluegrass State Goes GOP

  • It will get lost in the media spin, but Matt Bevin is a conservative before he’s a Republican. How refreshing.

  • Good night in Virginia too. Clinton’s carpetbagging crony, gov. Terry McAuliffe, invested tons of time and money into flipping one state senate seat… and failed. Particularly gratifying was the fact NYC Mayor Bloomberg threw tons of cash into that one race, in the Richmond area, emphasizing gun control… and was decisively rebuffed by a strongly gun-rights suburban/rural electorate.

    Bevin’s win is proof, if any was needed, that social issues do not necessarily harm GOP candidates, even in a purplish state like KY.

  • As a native Kentuckian I will point out that local-wise, party labels have not meant much as we’ve had several democrats… well to the right of Mitch McConnell (heck, I’ve personally known some to the right of Jim Webb). It’s just sheer inertia that (as was explained to me), the state was primarily one party (D) so when you signed up to vote, you went with D because then you’d get to vote in the primaries where the elections were typically won (since the general was then unopposed). It’s actually been within my lifetime that a real split has been happening in politics here instead of conservatives & liberals calling themselves both Democrats and then fighting it out.

    I don’t know much of the polls, but my guts tell me that while the rest of the nation looks at Kim Davis’ antics in KY with shame, a lot in KY are looking at the Democrats’ antics in the general with shame – to the point that the party label has new meaning instead of just being a forgotten ritual.

    Lincoln & Davis were both born here, and I once read somewhere that the great depression started because of something in Louisville. Maybe it’s some state pride, but sometimes I wonder if we’re some kind of fulcrum upon which the nation’s fate turns. If so, what might be happening now, that’s important tomorrow…

    (besides basketball)

11 Responses to Somalia, Libertarian Paradise!

  • Very nice Tito. I have never been quite sure how “Conservative Catholics” in this country embraced Libertarianism. Up until very recently (and maybe in the ideal, still), the Church has seemed more ready to embrace Catholic Authoritarian governments that would enforce Catholic moral teaching with laws at the expense of individual freedoms.

  • Tito,

    Bless your heart.

    I wish you had counted to 10,000 before you posted that video. And, I know you did not put it together.

  • No, I didn’t put it together.

    But after listening to Ron Paul wanting our military to withdraw from South Korea, among other things, my enthusiasm for libertarian ideals have matured.

  • I thought this was hilarious! As much as most of the bloggers here prefer to focus on the threat of a bloated, oppressive “nanny state” it helps to be reminded once in a while that the other extreme — no government at all — ain’t that great either.

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  • Pretty amusing.

    Of course, as the blog’s resident pseudo-libertarian, I should note that compared to other African countries (which have governments) Somalia has been doing fine.

  • Has anyone here even read the US Constitution? Powers granted to the federal government are specific and limited. Today however our federal government is so large that it is about to take everything away from the people. We will not have to worry about our states rights or the Bill of Rights as they pertain to religious freedom, noooooo, the Global government will see to that.

    Sounds farfetched ?!? Twenty years ago could anyone here see the demise of this country? We are actually debating Sharia Law and Ginsberg worries about how our laws differs with international laws.

    Wake up people!

  • Blackadder,
    While other states in Africa are having issues, I think you are seriously underestimating how bad things are in somalia. Lets remember, this is country whose multiparty civil war has lasted for twenty years now, that is the home to numerous pirates that have been raiding shipping in the Indian Ocean, sell people of Bantu heritage into slavery….

    In other words, there might be countries that are worse off in Africa, but there are also countries that are much better off.

  • It’s interesting to note that three new countries (not recognized by the international community) have emerged from the shambles of Somalia.

    They are Somaliland, Puntland, and Galmudug.

    I say let them break up if those countries are able to function!

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