Monday, August 27, 2007

2008 Year of the Novices?

A political novice has stepped forward to take on two-term Congressman Geoff Davis, Republican of Northern Kentucky.

New Kentucky political blog Page One Kentucky broke the story August 14, including the first interview with Dr. Michael Kelley, a physician from the northern Louisville suburbs.

Our sources say Kelley will not be a candidate just for candidacy’s sake— he won’t be the sacrificial lamb— that he’ll have support similar to that of Ken Lucas in 2006. If you remember the horde of commercials purchased on behalf of Lucas (and the $1.5Million the FEC says he raised that year) you realize this could potentially be big bucks— and aid— for Kelley.

According to a contact at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, “Kelley will garner strong support from the state and national party because he’s not a career politician. He’s not your average hack from Halliburton. He has a simple plan that hits home with the voters and he connects with people on a personal level that career-types like Davis cannot.”

Read the whole thing, but short version is Kelley wants the troops out of Iraq, major health care reform, and campaign finance reform.

Davis is an interesting case. Despite being an intellectual and political lightweight, valued primarily for his reflexive RWA, wingnut Smirky-worship, he's beaten two fairly strong Democrats.

In 2004, he ran for retiring Democrat Ken Lucas' open seat against journalist Nick Clooney. Yes, that Clooney - brother of Rosemary, father of George (DOWN, girls!) Not only is Nick just as handsome as his famous son, he's also just as smart, articulate and passionately liberal. You may have read George's comments that Nick's journalism career and First Amendment values inspired him to make Goodnight, and Good Luck.

2004, of course, was a bad year for Democrats, especially in Kentucky, and it didn't help Nick that Northern Kentucky is a conservative republican bastion.

In 2006, however, a grassroots draft persuaded former Congressman Ken Lucas to try to unseat Davis. 2006 was a good year for Democrats, as Proud Liberal John Yarmuth proved by defeating five-term incumbent Anne Northup in Louisville. Davis was considered so endangered that he was a recipient of some of Karl Rove's taxpayer-funded save-the-repugs media events, now under investigation. But conservative Lucas ran as republican-lite (DAMN you, Rahm Emmanuel!) and as always when given a choice between a fake and the real thing, people chose the real republican.

Now things are looking extremely bad for Kentucky republicans, with Governor Ernie Fletcher hurtling toward a historic crash-and-burn in November, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, up for reelection in 2008, looking weaker by the moment.

Dr. Kelley faces some serious hurdles. The Fourth District is, as Kentucky Enquirier columnist Pat Crowley notes, "a 24-county behemoth that stretches more than 200 miles along the Ohio River from Ashland to near Louisville to near Lexington." In other words, from Appalachian Mountain redoubts to liberal suburbs. Kelley may also suffer from "doctor fatigue" among Kentucky voters, who have a physician running for Lt. Governor, whose ticket beat another physician in the primary, against a physician who is the incumbent governor.

But if Dr. Kelley is able to stand tall for progressive values and resist DLC and DCCC advice to play nice, he should be able to unseat Davis in a year when republicans will be fighting for their political lives.

(Betcha didn't know George Clooney is a native Kentuckian, born in Lexington and raised in the beautiful Ohio River town of Maysville. Heard a rumor a month ago that George is considering running against Mitch McConnell. Waaaaaayy too good to be true.)