Democrats won Virginia and are claiming victory in Kentucky. What next? | Lloyd Green
The latest contests point the Democrats to a path forward. Whether that road actually leads to the White House remains to be seen
On election day 2019, the Democrats swept the Virginia legislature, and appear to have won the Kentucky governors mansion. Trends visible when Nancy Pelosi reclaimed the House speakers gavel a year ago remain ever present.
Americas suburbs continues to abandon their traditional political home even as rural voters remain energized by an unpopular president. On Tuesday, impeachment wasnt the vote magnet the presidents minions swore that it would be.
In Kentucky, Democrat Andy Beshear, the states attorney general, appears to have ousted Matt Bevin, the incumbent Republican who has refused to concede defeat. Less than half a percent separates the two candidates. Trump had triumphed in the Bluegrass State by 30 points. If not gone, his magic is not readily transferable.
For the record, Beshear won the very suburban counties that had gone for Bevin four years earlier. Meanwhile, voters in Kentuckys urban precincts flocked to the polls for the Democrat. Jefferson County, home to Louisville, voted Democratic by better than two-to-one.
On the Monday night immediately before the election, Trump had headlined a Maga rally for Bevin and was joined onstage by Kentuckys senators Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul. There, Trump proclaimed: If you lose, they are going to say Trump suffered the greatest defeat in the history of the world. You cant let that happen to me! At the same gathering, Paul had urged the press corps to out the whistleblower who is the bane of Trumps existence, a reminder of libertarianisms neo-Confederate strains.
Hours later, on Tuesday morning, Trump then tweeted that the impeachment hoax had fired up voters in Kentucky. Maybe so, but not exactly the way Trump had thought.
Instead, Trumps presence comes with a downside: it energizes his opposition. As to be expected, Donald Trump Jr told Fox News viewers as the results rolled in, This has nothing to do with Trump.
To be sure, Trump and Bevin may have also been hurt by the headlines that emerged as Kentuckians went to the polls. Gordon Sondland, Trumps ambassador to the European Union, had corrected his impeachment testimony and admitted that there had been a quid pro quo involving Ukraine and Hunter Biden.
Republican demands that the Democrats release transcripts have given way to Republicans announcing that they now have no intention of reading said transcripts. Ignorance is the new bliss.
Meanwhile, McConnell who doubles as Senate majority leader, was signaling that while he thought the Senate would acquit Trump in an impeachment trial, bipartisan agreement would be needed for the trial to proceed. This is not something the majority can micromanage like it can on almost any other issue, said McConnell.
In Virginia, the Republicans fate was gloomier as they lost the state senate and the house of delegates. For the first time since 1992, the Democrats hold control of both legislative chambers. Adding insult to injury, Juli Briskman, the cyclist who flipped-off the presidential motorcade two years earlier, won her bid for local office in Virginias Loudon County.
Looking back, the Republicans defeat in the 2017 gubernatorial race was a harbinger of what actually came next. Suburban Virginians again made themselves heard and stuck a thumb in the presidents eye. Against this backdrop, Elaine Luria and Abigail Spanberger, freshman congresswomen from swing districts in Virginia must be breathing more easily.
The two had publicly announced their support for the Houses impeachment inquiry in a Washington Post op-ed along with five other freshman with national security credentials. They also served as catalysts for Democrats moving forward on the topic.
Spanberger is a former CIA operative while Luria is an ex-navy commander. Together, they are a reminder that the House Democrats are not just about Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and the partys left wing, and that Democrats have found traction outside the New York and Californias big cities.
While Democrats have reason to smile, perspective remains essential. While Tuesdays results can be spun as a defeat for Trumpism, Kentucky is not a swing state and Bevin was an unpopular governor. A year from now, it will appear in the presidents column regardless of the national results. The last time Kentucky voted Democratic was in 1996 for Bill Clinton and Ross Perot was on the ballot.
Next, Beshear ran as a moderate, something that cannot be said of Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. The former is a self-described democratic-socialist and the latter wants to remake capitalism in her own image. By the numbers, Warren appears poised to lose to Trump as suburban voters are turned-off by her plans for redistributive economics.
In that sense, the latest contests point the Democrats to a path forward. Whether that road actually leads to the White House remains to be seen.