Friday, November 17, 2006

Election postmortem

Nationally, Election Day wasn't pretty for Republicans, but in Kentucky things could have been worse.

True, the GOP lost a seat in Congress in a close vote -- what WERE you idiots in Louisville thinking, anyway? -- and the party lost five seats in the state House of Representatives, but there were a number of bright spots.

First and foremost was the continued growth of the party's influence in areas previously dominated by Democrats. Several counties reported, for the first time, electing a Republican to a county office.

One very pleasant surprise was the election of Randy Thompson, the Republican county judge candidate in Knott County. Knott, of course, is one of the most heavily Democratic counties in the state. It's the home to the Hindman Mafia, a powerful group of Democratic politicos such as Benny Ray Bailey, Grady Stumbo and Bill Weinberg. But when the previously elected Democrat judge got into some legal trouble and resigned, Gov. Ernie Fletcher appointed a Republican -- Thompson -- to fill the unexpired term, and Thompson shocked the world by winning a four-year term of his own.

Voters in two heavily Democratic counties, Fleming and Morgan, re-elected Republican county judges. The victory in Morgan County by incumbent Tim Conley was especially sweet, given the dirty tricks that Democrats had pulled in an effort to defeat him. Those dirty tricks were documented here in previous weeks. Conley overcame a politically-motivated legal investigation instigated by Greg Stumbo and one of his cronies, and a contrived financial crisis dreamed up by his Democrat opponent who was at the time a magistrate on the fiscal court.

The GOP's ability to keep control of the state Senate was rewarding, as well. Beating back two determined challengers for the Congressional seats held by Ron Lewis and Geoff Davis was a coup, as well, given how voter registration numbers in this state favor Democratic Party candidates.

There were rough spots. The loss by John Roach, Gov. Fletcher's appointee to the Supreme Court, is being seen by some as a rebuke of Fletcher himself. But again, party identification played a large role in that race. Roach is well-known as a Republican, and his opponent was labeled by a supporter as "a yellow-dog Democrat" and that played well in a predominantly-Democratic district.

Yes, things could have been better, but they could have been much worse as well. And the infighting among prominent Democrats in the state can do nothing but help the GOP cause.

For instance, many Democrats are unhappy with their party chairman, Jerry Lundergan, and want him out. They point to the Democrats' national success, wonder why it wasn't duplicated in Kentucky, and hold up DNC chair Howard Dean as a model. Yet some prominent national Democrats, most notably James Carville, want Dean out because they think he didn't do well enough.

And as some of the Democrats most frequently mentioned as gubernatorial candidates bow out one by one, the party will probably fracture further. Louisville Mayor Jerry Abramson and state Auditor Crit Luallen are out. Conventional wisdom has Congressman Ben Chandler out as well.

Former Lt. Gov. Steve Henry, he of the medical billing problems, is in. Former Gov. Brereton Jones, with the National Guard scandal that helped do in Mike Weaver's Congress campaign in his background, is said to be looking. Greg Stumbo, a proven deadbeat dad, will also likely join the fray. There is not a lot to get excited about in that lineup.

Plus, Republicans are already planning to make John Yarmuth a one-termer.

Yes, it could have been better, but it could have been a lot worse as well. There's lots to take heart in when Kentucky Republicans evaluate last week's elections.


At 10:51 AM, November 17, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I heard Laurel County elected a Democratic County Judge. And that Seum-Stephenson woman in southwest Jefferson County lost to liberal ally of Jody Richards and Jerry Abramson. In that same area, the arch-leader of the SW Republicans in Jefferson County, Doug "I vote No on everything" Hawkins, nearly lost to a 22 year Democratic neophyte who had never ran before. Elsewhere in Kentucky, Turncoat Carr lost in Christian County and Daviess County elected an African-American Democrat named Glenn in an majority-white area previously represented by Republicans. I think while it could have been better for both parties, other than the ousting of the Bush lapdog in KY3, neither has much to celebrate. But KY3 certainly does. There, the Ds elected a left-wing Democrat without much help from the State or National party organization, next to nothing from the Mayor of that county, and the next time Yarmuth is on the ballot will be in a presidential year. The last time Jefferson County supported a Republican for president was in 1988. Yarmuth is probably pretty safe.

One other point. You referenced Democrats being upset with Party Chair Jerry Lundergan. That is only a myth, propogated by another political blogger. Recently that blogger called for a revolt of sorts at the most recent meeting of the Democratic Central Committee. A total of THREE of his followers showed up to show their disdain. A tempest in a teapot, and a poor tempest at that.

At 4:00 PM, November 17, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Democrats are fast losing their grip on the mid-sized population centers around the state. Hardin, Warren, and Daviess Counties are getting extremely difficult for Democrats--areas they cannot afford to lose if they are going to have a future in the politics of Kentucky. Hardin County re-elected their Republican Judge-Executive despite being outspent 3-1 by a wealthy, well-known Democrat. State Senator Elizabeth Tori won big and Republicans took state House district 26. The Republicans now have districts 26 and 17, hitting all around Jimmie Lee's 25. The same story is true for Warren and Daviess. Democrats are losing ground fast.

At 5:05 PM, November 17, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Another Republican looses grip on reality. Daviess County elected a Democrat in H-13 to replace a Republican.

At 8:40 PM, November 19, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The statements about Hardin and Warren Counties are true.

At 10:12 AM, November 23, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Grayson and Butler Counties together have one Democrat county official, the rest are Republicans. The nation-wide trend did not hit there.

At 7:32 PM, December 04, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Martin County didn't fair quite so well for Republicans since the same Democrat crook bought his way back into the Judge-Executive seat once again. People in the county are wondering if it is ever going to be stopped so they can possibly have their very first honest election that isn't won by his vote buying. The word is that newly re-elected Judge-Exec Kelly Callaham is one of Greg Stumbo's buddies, so we're wondering just how far the current vote buying allegations against Callaham that are being investigated will get. We hear they like to scratch each others back.


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