Open Thread: Kentucky Tussles

rand paul ego texting pett

Fun (for Democrats) reading — TNR‘s Alec MacGillis explores the politic currents in the “united we stand, divided we fall” state:

“MAYFIELD, Ky. – That Mitch McConnell really does have a reelection fight on his hands was apparent to me even before I got to Fancy Farm, the glorious western Kentucky combo of county fair and old-fashioned political hoedown. I could tell it as soon as I stepped inside the community center in Calvert City that was hosting the local GOP warm-up event on Friday night, the evening prior. If the room had been any more low energy, they might’ve had to bring in one of those wind turbines that people like to scorn in coal country, just to keep the electrons flowing. A very elderly man with a shirt in the design of the Stars-and-Stripes hunched over a small boom-box blaring some patriotic fife-and-drums and a sound system that kept screeching feedback. A few dozen fellow seniors inched down the buffet table. There was a good explanation for the low mood: the beloved county party chairman was seriously ailing at the hospital in Nashville, two hours away.

But there was also a distinct lack of excitement about the man of the hour, who was on the schedule to appear but had left late from Washington. Misti Drew, a GOP county commissioner, gave a more candid answer than I expected when I sought her appraisal of McConnell’s reelection prospects: “Alison is going to give us a good challenge, and our challenge is to connect with the voters in a way that’s more charismatic.”

A minute later came a reminder that Alison Lundergan Grimes, McConnell’s Democratic challenger, is not the only person McConnell needs to worry about. Lingering in the room was David Adams, a conservative activist who ran the stunning primary campaign of Rand Paul in 2010, and who, while not yet formally involved in this year’s race, predicted that McConnell would meet the same fate from his own Tea Party challenger, businessman Matt Bevin, even if McConnell had done his best to co-opt Paul and his followers, in part by hiring as his campaign manager Jesse Benton, who replaced Adams for Paul’s general election push. “Mitch McConnell needs to retire,” Adams said, matter-of-factly. “And he needs to do it before the primary so he doesn’t get embarrassed.”

Mitch McConnell is not going to retire, because he is this close to achieving his dream of becoming Majority Leader of the United States Senate. But he is facing a serious challenge back in his home state, enough so for some prognosticators to now judge his race a toss-up. This challenge is being described in many accounts as a left-right vise, with Grimes on one side and Bevin on the other. Which technically it is. But the challenge is so formidable because both the Democrats and the Tea Party cohort in Kentucky are hitting McConnell on the same weak spot: scorning him as a little-loved Washington creature (29 years and counting) who is out only for himself. What struck me over the weekend was how relentlessly, almost giddily, this line of attack was being delivered from both sides, with a bravado that suggested little fear of McConnell’s vaunted political artillery, and quite a lot of confidence in his vulnerability….

(Cartoon: Joel Pett via

Quick VA Election Question/Bleg

Hey VA BJers (and/or BJ political cheenyouses):

My wife and I have been talking about putting a little muscle behind our conviction that we need to engage in permanent campaign mode, and that we have to instantiate in our own choices the stuff I twitter-twatter all the time about paying attention to states other than our own true-blue commonwealth.

So, first up on the calendar, the VA gov. race.

Our question isn’t about whether or not McAuliffe is a whack job or whatever.  I know he is not the beau-ideal of a modern major Democrat.  But he’s what we’ve got to start rolling back the evils of the last few years, so he’s our guy.*

What we want to know is who to contribute to for maximum useful effect:  McAuliffe himself, DGA, local groups, anyone?  My general belief is that if you want candidate X to win, you hand over the boodle to that person directly, but if there’s any nuance of VA politics in general or this race in particular, I’d like to know it.

More generally, everyone: what are the crucial state races coming up where you are?  Are there voting rights campaigns that you think are doing good work that need our help?  What can we do below the level of making sure we don’t have to deal with President Ted Cruz next time round to move this country off the nadir we’ve hit over the last couple of weeks?  Thoughts?

Last, as a reward for the goo-goo’ing above, here, by popular** demand are a pair of pictures of a cat not named Boss:


Kitten Tikka Masala above does not want me to sit to my computer


And this is simply his default, “You looking at me?” pose.

Over to you…

*I’m utterly a yellow-dog Democrat at this point, at just about every level.  There are reasonable people with whom I disagree on politics.  Some of them may even identify as Republicans.  But the Republican Party as a national and local political institution is too toxic, too ideologically committed to grotesquely failed policies, and — as we say daily in the rush to gut voting rights — too hostile to actual democracy to allow individual’s private good intentions to trump the reality we’ve seen around us for decades.  The most reasonable imaginable Republican, once in office, plays on that team — and that side’s play is too damn dangerous for a nation that hopes to make it to its fourth century.  This Republican Party has to go the way of the Whigs before there’s ever a reason to support even a congenial Republican-ID’d person for any office.

**i.e., a couple of you guys.

Thursday Evening Open Thread: Texas Wendy

Commentor Brian R. on my thread this morning:

There will be elections [in Texas] in 2014 for both the governor’s seat and Cornyn’s Senate seat.

If the state Democratic Party has any brains, they’ll run Wendy Davis for governor and Julian Castro for Senate. (Davis has already declined interest in the U.S. Senate seat and, while that might change, I think she has her heart set on a statewide office that keeps her in Texas for the time being.)

Both of them would be amazing candidates on their own, but they’d each mobilize a different key constituency (women, Hispanics) and bring out voters from different parts of the state (DFW, San Antonio) for a fucking tidal wave. And the down-ticket impact for state legislature seats would be impressive as well, especially with so many Republicans wearing this abortion vote on their backs.

From my perch in the blue northeast, I don’t know how the Texas Democratic Party could be encouraged to do these things, so here’s your chance to explain it to me.

For more immediate gratification, Wendy Davis has a donate button on her website, and one to sign up as volunteer, if you’re in her neighborhood. (Julian Castro’s asking for donations, too.)

For entertainment purposes, commentor Jibeaux directs us to some Amazon product reviews of the Mizuno Women’s Wave Rider 16 Running Shoe — ‘marathon shoe for marathon filbustering’, ‘fits perfectly up a Republican’s rear end’. And the new one-star reviews are even funnier!

Apart from interfering in another state’s rights, what’s on the agenda for the evening?

Open Thread: Gabriel Gomez Died for Romney’s Sins

Another Markey post, because I can, and because I think Dave Weigel might just be on to something useful:

Before the media tosses this election down the memory hole, I want to pay tribute to our incurable addiction to narratives and the search for Meaning in elections. The search for Meaning overpowers things like data and political science. Anyone who looked at the numbers and candidates and parties in March could have told you that Markey would win, and yet the race was covered as a toss-up…

The spending perfectly predicted the election. The Cook Political Report, which briefly rated the race a “toss-up,” did so because the spending seemed to confirm a Markey panic. “We changed the rating [to toss-up] and then began to see some other numbers, from even more reliable pollsters/sources, with a wider margin that convinced us that the race either hadn’t closed or had widened back out,” says Charlie Cook. “The fact that the DSCC dumped in a seven-digit television buy around the same time suggested that we weren’t alone in thinking that Markey did not have the race in the bag.” He didn’t, but he never thought he did, so he spent money.

That money’s going to undergird the coming (probably brief) Republican autopsy of this race. Over the weekend, The Wall Street Journal reported on donors “sitting out” the Massachusetts race even though its candidate “fits the profile that many in the party see as desirable.” Politico finally declared that Gomez was “no Scott Brown redux” in part because “big GOP money never came to save him.” It’s like we all slept through those 2012 elections where super PACs blitzed the airwaves for Republican Senate candidates and the Democrats won anyway….

In a later post, Weigel quotes Charlie Cook directly:

[Y]ou can bet that the NRSC and Crossroads looked very hard at it, spent considerable amounts of money on polling and just didn’t see it happening. After last November, the last thing they wanted was to raise the stakes and expectations then lose. Their donors would have gone nuts. So they very clinically and unemotionally looked at it and made the cold-blooded decision that it either wasn’t there or wasn’t worth the risk. But the final decisions weren’t made until not that long ago. At the same time, when you look at Dems effectively outspending Gomez by better than 2-1, sending both Obamas, Biden and who knows who else up, they were not taking any chances, retrospectively looks like using a shotgun on a gnat, but that is with the benefit of 20-20 hindsight. Had they lost it, heads would have rolled. Better to be safe than sorry.

Final point: While some have written about ambivalence among GOP donors in general, I think the point that is being missed is that these folks were told and really believed that Romney could and would win. They heard it from the campaign, the party committees, the superpacs and from Fox. They don’t know who to believe now. The GOP has to re-earn their donors trust, as does Fox. I can’t tell you how many Republican House members have told me that they had no idea that Romney wasn’t going to win, all the way to Election Day.

My emphases. I know every good Democrat gets depressed thinking about the GOP’s deep-pocketed donors, but maybe this is an indication that the Kochs and the Friesses and the Adelmans don’t like flushing their millions straight down the luzer toilet. The Democrats have the edge, nationally at least, when it comes to people — both organizationally and demographically. The Repubs have been doing their very best to ensure that money will count for more than (non-corporate) people, but perhaps there really are limits to what money can buy — as long as those of us without much don’t get discouraged out of trying.

Open Thread: Markey Did It!

Whew. Per the Boston Globe:

Veteran Democratic US Representative Edward J. Markey beat Republican businessman Gabriel E. Gomez today in a special election for US Senate in Massachusetts that was marked by its brevity and by low voter interest.

Gomez gave a concession speech shortly after 9:30 p.m., thanking his family and supporters. At the beginning of the race, he said, “Nobody knew who I was outside of Cohasset, a couple of Little League baseball teams, and the amazing people I worked with. But look at us now.”

Markey had 55 percent of the votes, compared with 45 percent for Gomez, with 96 percent of precincts reporting….

The race struggled to gain public attention. First, a number of high-profile names dropped out of the race, including Brown, who lost a reelection battle in November to Democrat Elizabeth Warren. Then, other news events grabbed the media’s attention, including the Boston Marathon bombings on April 15.

Early on, some observers even suggested Bay State voters had a case of election fatigue, with tonight’s election the third US Senate race in just over three years.

Not surprisingly, given the challenges, turnout today appeared to be lackluster. Secretary of State William F. Galvin predicted record low voting numbers statewide, perhaps about 37 percent. By 6 p.m., only about 18 percent of voters had turned out in Boston…

What this means, for the 99.99% of Balloon Juice readers who do not live in Massachusetts, is that President Obama has one less corporatist sockpuppet/social-issues teabagger to contend with “just for the next seventeen months” (as the Gomez ads have been whinging for the last ten days or so).

The President, Joe Biden, and of course Senator Warren all endorsed and campaigned for Markey. The GOP threw a ton of money into tv ads, but there’s not a lot of photogenicity among that crew. Scott Brown wouldn’t be seen in public with Gomez until about 36 hours ago, and even then he looked like a man thinking “don’t let this luzer get his stench on me.”

Turnout seems to have been weighted — no surprise — towards the Cranky Old Pharts demographic, not least in my own town, which seems to have give the Twelve Visions dude his fourth-highest tally. (I never heard of him, either; from the front of his website it seems to be a form of get-off-my-lawnism too cranky even for the Free Staters.)