Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Will It Turn My Red State Blue?

While the national Democratic “leadership” is busy trying to figure out how to squeeze just one more state into the Democratic electorial vote column, on the ground here in the ignored “red” states, we’re setting our sights higher.

Twenty-four years after Mitch McConnell’s upset of Senator Dee Huddleston started the republican takeover of traditionally Democratic Kentucky, 2008 is shaping up as the year our 6-2 red congressional delegation flips to a 4-4 or possibly 5-3 blue group.

Three weeks ago, I would have said 4-4 was a lock, 5-3 likely and a complete reversal to 6-2 Democratic a definite possibility.

But the withdrawal of the only Democrat with a chance in hell of beating Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell makes it far less of a sure thing.

Nevertheless, we have progressive political novices courageously challenging republican incumbents in two Congressional Districts, and a wide-open race in another.

(Details after the jump.)

In the far-western First District, military veteran Heather Ryan is challenging seven-term incumbent Ed Whitfield. You’ll remember that Ryan was fired from her job on Mitch’s orders because her 12-year-old daughter Heaven dared to challenge McConnell on his support for the Iraq catastrophe.

Although Ryan is being studiously ignored by the Kentucky Democratic Party (KDP), and although the KDP has failed to support a challenge to the extremely weak Whitfield for six straight election cycles, the unemployed mom, whose husband is on military deployment, has the determined support of Kentucky’s progressive blogosphere.

She also, unlike some supposedly stronger candidates in other districts, has a campaign website.

In the Second District, which ridiculously stretches almost 200 miles from the western flatlands past the Bluegrass to the foothills of the eastern mountains, republicans are still reeling from the last-second decision (seriously – barely an hour before the filing deadline) of seven-term incumbent Ron Lewis to not run again.

The rural Second is pretty conservative but not stupid, which is why it kept re-electing worthless piece of furniture but real repug Lewis over the pathetic repug-lites the KDP kept putting up against him.

The good news is that now Democrats have a real chance to take back the Second. The bad news is that two Democrats are running in the primary, and neither one of them can claim to be a progressive.

David Boswell and Reid Haire are both from Owensboro, at the far western edge of the Second District. Both are experienced local politicians – Haire the Daviess County Judge-Executive, and Boswell the state senator. Neither has a campaign website up.

Boswell is anti-choice (or as Eva Destruction put it, “believes pregnant women are the property of their husbands or parents”) and Haire has contributed to Mitch McConnell’s re-election. Hard to say who comes out better in that comparison.

Two republicans initially filed to replace Lewis, but Lewis’ chief of staff has now dropped out, leaving state senator Brent Guthrie of Bowling Green with no primary challenge.

As DINOs, neither Boswell nor Haire is likely to excite Kentucky’s progressives much, so the Second District race will come down to how powerful the Democratic wave is in November.

But we’re going to have fun in Louisville’s Third District, where humiliated ex-congress critter Anne Northup is begging for another whuppin’ from Proud Liberal John Yarmuth.

Northern Kentucky’s Fourth District might be interesting, if novice Michael Kelley can get some support from state Democrats for his challenge to repug two-term incumbent Geoff Davis.

In the Fifth and Sixth Districts, incumbents are sitting pretty. DINO extraordinaire Ben Chandler of Lexington’s Sixth has two republican challengers that nobody ever heard of and will coast to re-election. As will republican Hal Rogers of eastern Kentucky’s Fifth. Eastern Kentuckians may be overwhelmingly Democratic, but they appreciate somebody who knows how to bring home the bacon, no matter how unethically or illegally. Kentucky Democrats may be none too bright at times, but they’re nowhere near stupid enough to run against Rogers.

Speaking of stupid Democrats, Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear and DSCC Chair Chuck Schumer have guaranteed Mitch McConnell’s re-election by forcing Andrew Horne out of the race in favor of Criminal and Democratic Traitor Bruce Lunsford.

How bad a candidate is Bruce Lunsford? Bruce Lunsford is so bad, that there are dedicated progressive Democrats in this state who will not vote in the Senate race if Lunsford is the Democratic nominee.

Which he probably will be, even though he technically has six primary opponents. The only one of the six who is seriously challenging Lunsford is millionaire Greg Fischer, who is already getting slammed for falsely claiming to have picked up Horne’s supporters.

Last year, I wrote that the Democratic win in the Kentucky governor’s race was a good omen for Democratic wins statewide and nationally in 2008.

I still believe that, even though Governor Beshear has proven not to be the Great Democratic Hope I thought he was.

Cross-posted at Blue in the Bluegrass.