The Curmudgeonly Kentuckian

Sen. Jim Bunning (R-Ky.) should take that advice about how when you find yourself in a hole, you need to stop digging.

You may recall that Bunning had to apologize this week for stating that Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg would be dead in nine months from pancreatic cancer. For all his years in public office — 22 in the Congress — Bunning hasn't realized that this probably wasn't something you would say in public. He issued one of those contemptuous apologies in which he said he was sorry "if" Ginsburg was offended.

That would be embarrassing enough. But Bunning is now threatening to sue his own party if the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) endorses another candidate to run against him in his primary next year, and his old friend and senior senator from Kentucky, Mitch McConnell — who happens to also be the Senate minority leader — is keeping his distance, according to a story in our paper by Alexander Bolton.

Bunning, a former Major League Baseball pitcher who is in the Hall of Fame, is known as a cantankerous type, and was none too happy with the news that Kentucky Senate President David Williams, a possible opponent, had met with NRSC officials last week. When the NRSC released a statement reiterating its support for Bunning, he said of Chairman John Cornyn (Texas), "I don't believe anything John Cornyn says. I've had miscommunications with John Cornyn from, I guess, the first week of this current session of the Senate. He either doesn't understand English, or he doesn't understand direct: 'I'm going to run,' which I said to him in the cloakroom of our chamber." OK, senator.

Bunning's campaign coffer is dry, with just $150,000 for what stands to be a competitive general-election campaign and, potentially, a competitive primary campaign. And a report in the Lexington Herald-Leader in December showed that of the $504,000 Bunning's nonprofit organization, the Jim Bunning Foundation, has taken in since 1996, less than 25 percent of it has been given to charity.

You are going to have yourself quite a busy year, senator.


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