“But you're too young to know the score, so come back when you're older.”

-Donny Osmond





When my father was dying of cancer, he said he wasn’t worried about not going to heaven. “If God grades on the curve, I am in,” he said. “I have seen the competition.”

Gov. Ernie Fletcher, a minister, never sought theological advice from my father, a professional gambler.

But, if Fletcher views the Kentucky governorship as heaven, his thoughts might be similar to my dad’s.

If voters grade on the curve, he could have a second term. At the very least, he will be the Republican nominee.

It is only nine months until the primary. If another Republican plans on beating Fletcher, they need to be a multi-millionaire or needed to start running two years ago.

Secretary of State Trey Grayson does not fall in either category.

The Republican establishment is unhappy with Governor Fletcher. Lt. Gov. Steve Pence, Senate President David Williams and U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell have dropped not-so-subtle hints that Fletcher should find something else to do with his life.

They have a problem. Fletcher is not listening to them. He keeps running for re-election.

I’m writing this shortly after Grayson announced that he is considering a bid to run against Fletcher.

I don’t know Grayson well, but have followed his career. Like myself, he grew up in suburban Kenton County, and went to the same high school that my sister attended. My parents knew his parents, and I met Trey when he worked for my friend Bob Babbage.

Babbage told me years ago that Grayson would get elected to something. Bob was right. Grayson has a great chance to be governor, but not in 2007.

There are two bad scenarios for Grayson. One is that Fletcher stays in the race for governor. The second is that Fletcher drops out.

If Fletcher stays in, the 34-year-old Grayson faces an incumbent in a party primary. If Fletcher drops out, more seasoned Republicans such as Pence, Williams or one (or more) of the congressional delegation will jump in the race.

With either scenario, Grayson has problems.

It is easy for a secretary or state, surrounded by fawning staff and well-wishers, to think it is a simple jump to governor. The secretary of state walks by the governor’s office every day. Or at least sees the secret door that hides it.

There is a lot of young political talent in Northern Kentucky and someone such as Grayson or Covington Vice Mayor Rob Sanders (who recently was elected Kenton County commonwealth’s attorney) will eventually make a splash at the statewide level. Success will hinge on picking the right race at the right time.

I’ve often made the case that if Todd Hollenbach had ran for lieutenant governor in 1975 instead of governor, he would have eventually made it the governor’s office. The same holds true for George Atkins in 1979, Grady Stumbo in 1983 and Floyd Poore in 1991.

Once they lost their gubernatorial bid, they were never elected to anything else.

I would hate to see that happen to Grayson.

Machiavelli said if you’re going to make an attempt on a king, you have to kill him. Governor is Kentucky’s equivalent to king. Unless Trey has financial resources or an organization I don’t know about, he is better off waiting.

To take out a sitting governor in nine months is almost impossible. I don't care if the governor is indicted and every major officeholder in the Republican Party is blasting him. None of those people blasting Fletcher have dared to run against him.

A sitting governor has a lot of power. The governor dominates news coverage, and has a large staff and contractors beholden to him.

I would hate to see Grayson throw away a promising career. I hope he waits and comes back when he is older and more seasoned.

The only governor from Northern Kentucky was William Goebel, who was shot while he took the oath of office.

I hope that Grayson’s unbridled ambition does not shoot a hole in his chance to be the second.

Don McNay’s book, “The Unbridled World of Ernie Fletcher” will be out later this year. You can write to him don@donmcnay.com or read other things he has written at www.donmcnay.com . His award-winning column is syndicated on the CNHI News Service and he is on the board of directors for the National Society of Newspaper Columnists.

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