Republican congressional candidate Chris Thieneman announced this morning that he has withdrawn his bid for the 3rd District House seat, using the Francene Show for the second time in his brief campaign to drop big news. He also announced he’s leaving the party and switching back to the Democratic Party, of which he was a member for 25 years. He also endorsed Rep. John Yarmuth for re-election.
Thieneman, who had been portraying himself as a maverick South Ender whose opposition to Mayor Abramson and the city’s established powers — particularly on last year’s library tax — made him popular among “the people,” said he finally caved to pressure from the Republican establishment, including U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell.
“If I was going to keep the fight going, it was not going to get the message that needed to be sent,” he told the WHAS Radio talk show host, a Republican.
Thieneman described for Francene the insider meetings he was privy to while a member of the executive committee of the Republican Party of Louisville, including private dinners involving only top members of the party, led by Jack Richardson.
“You had to say that you swore to support every Republican no matter what — that goes against my grain, because if you’re a scumbag, you’re a scumbag,” Thieneman said.
Speaking of scumbags, Thieneman called out Richardson directly, alleging back-room nonsense that’s long been talked about by politicos: “(Richardson) did not do anything, absolutely nothing, without being told to by Mitch McConnell.”
None of the people who have allegedly pressured Thieneman — Richardson, McConnell aide Larry Cox, State Sen. Dan Seum (on behalf of Northup) — have said he is lying. Instead, some have said he’s misinterpreted what the Republican inner circle has told him, which appears to be this: Get out of Anne’s way.
To hammer home the point, Thieneman brought a voicemail message left by Cox at 1:45 pm on Monday — during federal government business hours, you might note.
“Obviously I’ve got some concerns about this foolishness that went on this morning,” Cox said, referring to Thieneman’s last appearance on Francene’s show, the first time he spoke out about the pressure coming from fellow Republicans. “For one thing, I want you to know and I thought you already did, I hold you in high regard and think you are a fierce competitor. I don’t know who is stirring this pot and providing the misinformation. I’m pretty darn sure it’s not you…”
Cox said he wanted to talk with Thieneman before he went back on WHAS. He didn’t get the chance. Former U.S. Rep. Anne Northup entered the race for her old seat Tuesday, saying she looked forward to a primary battle with Thieneman.
When Thieneman first called out the top-tier Republicans on Francene’s show several days ago, a couple called in defending themselves, including Richardson. The local Republican leader admitted that the party chooses favorites, and sometimes pressures others to get out of the way. When Francene protested that such a system disenfranchises everyday Republicans, Richardson — who often comes off like an arrogant prick — told her she needed to learn more about politics, and that the Republicans don’t care about what the people want, they only care what the important people want.
“The longer that I was involved in that committee, the more I realized that wasn’t me,” he said. “And it really wasn’t the regular Republicans of this community. They don’t realize that this elite few, they control so much. The majority does not rule. It was so bad that I just decided instead of doing anything drastic like leaving the party, I was just going to leave that committee.”
Last spring, it was no secret among Republicans that Thieneman wanted to run for Congress. Some on the committee had committed to him verbally, he said. Northup had been handed two crushing defeats, the second of which came in a gubernatorial primary by a guy who’d been indicted on corruption charges just two years before. But a Thieneman candidacy died instantly, after he was told that former U.S. attorney Erwin Roberts was going to run, and sever his ties with former Gov. Ernie Fletcher. In return, it was decided, Northup was going to support him. Thieneman said he was told he could not get involved. The parts had been cast, as Francene said.
Roberts, a JAG lawyer, was called up for active duty last month. Francene and Thieneman both questioned the legitimacy of Erwin Roberts’ military call-up. (SG)