Bluegrass State Goes GOP

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Yesterday, in a move ominous for Democrats in 2016, the GOP had a very good night in Kentucky.  This is significant in that Kentucky is a state where Democrats have tended to dominate at the state wide level, even while Kentucky was reliably Republican in Federal elections:

Republican Matt Bevin easily won Kentucky’s governorship on Tuesday as the GOP made major inroads in a state that had stubbornly resisted the party at the state level even as it voted reliably Republican in federal contests in recent years.

Bevin, a self-funding investment manager, rode a late surge of outside support from national Republicans to defeat Democrat Jack Conway, 53 percent to 44 percent, according to The Associated Press. Bevin will become just the second Republican to inhabit the governor’s mansion in Frankfort in more than four decades.

 

Polls prior to the vote showed a close race, with most surveys giving Conway, the state’s sitting attorney general, a slight advantage.

Bevin’s victory capped a successful night for Republicans, who picked up four of the six independently elected statewide positions despite going into Tuesday with just one GOP officeholder. Their victories included ousting state Auditor Adam Edelen, who was thought to be Democrats’ top pick to challenge GOP Sen. Rand Paul next year.

It also marked a stunning political turnaround for Bevin, who has spent $7 million trying to win elected office between this run and his failed 2014 Senate primary against now-Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. In 2014, he lost the primary to McConnell by 25 percentage points and was mocked by fellow Republicans as an “East Coast Con Man” and a supporter of cockfighting. He entered the governor’s race just hours before the filing deadline and won a May primary against two more establishment-oriented Republicans by a mere 83 votes.

The general election was ugly, with both candidates repeatedly impugning the other’s integrity and Conway repeatedly blitzing Bevin with negative ads branding the eventual victor as a hypocrite and a liar. Bevin was outspent for most of the contest and had his tactics consistently questioned by his fellow Republicans. But a late $2.5 million spending blitz from the Republican Governors Association helped Bevin close the gap in television advertising in the final weeks.

“We need a fresh start. We truly do,” Bevin said in his victory speech. “We’ve run this race our way. We have not chosen to go into the trough. We’ve taken the proverbial high road.”

Bevin, who has often clashed with the party establishment in the state, said he was happy Republicans swept into state offices, but noted he was even “more grateful tonight was such a good night for conservatives in Kentucky.”

Bevin’s win throws into doubt the future of KyNect, the state’s Obamacare exchange, and Medicaid expansion in the state. It also means that an expansion of early childhood education — something Conway had made a priority — is unlikely in the near future.

The Republican gains continue two distressing Obama-era trends for Democrats. The party will now hold just 17 governorships, down from 29 in 2008. Only one of those governors — Virginia’s Terry McAuliffe — hails from the South. (Democrats will have a chance to pick up a governor’s mansion in the South on Nov. 21, when Democrat John Bel Edwards faces GOP Sen. David Vitter in Louisiana’s gubernatorial race.)

Go here to read the rest.  This continues a trend of the Democrat party losing ground on the statewide level around the country over the past seven years.  The major impact of Obama long term may well be the destruction of what had been long term Democrat dominance at the state level since the New Deal.  This tends to be an overlooked story, but it is a major one and may have a great impact on the results of 2016.

 

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3 Comments

  1. It will get lost in the media spin, but Matt Bevin is a conservative before he’s a Republican. How refreshing.

  2. Good night in Virginia too. Clinton’s carpetbagging crony, gov. Terry McAuliffe, invested tons of time and money into flipping one state senate seat… and failed. Particularly gratifying was the fact NYC Mayor Bloomberg threw tons of cash into that one race, in the Richmond area, emphasizing gun control… and was decisively rebuffed by a strongly gun-rights suburban/rural electorate.

    Bevin’s win is proof, if any was needed, that social issues do not necessarily harm GOP candidates, even in a purplish state like KY.

  3. As a native Kentuckian I will point out that local-wise, party labels have not meant much as we’ve had several democrats… well to the right of Mitch McConnell (heck, I’ve personally known some to the right of Jim Webb). It’s just sheer inertia that (as was explained to me), the state was primarily one party (D) so when you signed up to vote, you went with D because then you’d get to vote in the primaries where the elections were typically won (since the general was then unopposed). It’s actually been within my lifetime that a real split has been happening in politics here instead of conservatives & liberals calling themselves both Democrats and then fighting it out.

    I don’t know much of the polls, but my guts tell me that while the rest of the nation looks at Kim Davis’ antics in KY with shame, a lot in KY are looking at the Democrats’ antics in the general with shame – to the point that the party label has new meaning instead of just being a forgotten ritual.

    Lincoln & Davis were both born here, and I once read somewhere that the great depression started because of something in Louisville. Maybe it’s some state pride, but sometimes I wonder if we’re some kind of fulcrum upon which the nation’s fate turns. If so, what might be happening now, that’s important tomorrow…

    (besides basketball)

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