Ernie Fletcher

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Ernie Fletcher

Ernest Lee Fletcher (born November 12, 1952) has served as governor of the Commonwealth of Kentucky since 2003. He is a member of the Republican Party.

Fletcher was born in Mount Sterling, Kentucky. He received his B.S. degree from the University of Kentucky College of Engineering in 1974 and is a graduate of the University of Kentucky College of Medicine.

He served as a fighter pilot in the United States Air Force.

After receiving his medical degree, he practiced as a family physician for twelve years. He has also served as a Baptist lay minister.

Fletcher was elected to the Kentucky House of Representatives for the 78th District in 1995. He held this office until he was elected to the United States House of Representatives from the 6th District in 1998.

He became governor of Kentucky in December 2003 after defeating Democrat Ben Chandler 55%-45% in the election the previous month.

As Governor, Fletcher streamlined state government, condensing the number of cabinets from 14 to nine, and dissolved the former Kentucky Horse Racing Commission and created the new Kentucky Horse Racing Authority, which promotes and regulates Kentucky's signature industry. He has rolled back burdensome Medicaid requirements and unveiled a plan to modernize Medicaid and focus on improvements in care, benefit management and technology. Governor Fletcher unveiled "Get Healthy Kentucky!," an initiative to promote healthier lifestyles for Kentuckians.

On June 9, 2004, while en route to memorial services for former president Ronald Reagan, the governor's plane inadvertently caused a security scare and was nearly shot down by the U.S. Air Force. It caused the Capitol to be evacuated, because the plane's transponder failed while in restricted airspace. The security scare happened just moments before the plane with Reagan's body touched down at Andrews Air Force Base.

Fletcher had low approval ratings for much of his first year in office, due to conflicts including Fletcher's calling a special election after a Democratic state senator's death. Most controversy focused on increasing costs of health insurance for state employees.

However, during his second year in office, Fletcher scored a legislative victory in the Kentucky General Assembly with the passage of a comprehensive tax reform package. The passage of tax reform made good on one of Fletcher's key campaign pledges. By March 2005, Fletcher's approval rating had rebounded to 52%, according to a Louisville Courier-Journal poll; a Survey USA poll around the same time found his approval rating below 40% and lower than that of most other governors at the time. Then in May 2005 controversies began to mount regarding the Fletcher administration's disregard of the state merit system in hiring, promoting, demoting and firing state employees based on political loyalties. Whistleblowers came forward, leading to an investigation by the Democratic state attorney general.

Governor Fletcher is married to his high school sweetheart, Glenna Foster. They have two children and four grandchildren.

External links

Preceded by:
Paul E. Patton
Governor of Kentucky
Succeeded by:

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