Here’s LEO Weekly’s rundown of the winners and losers from election night. Our congrats and condolences to the following:
Winner: Barack Obama; Loser: Mitch McConnell
How’s that No. 1 goal working out for you, Mitch? Yeah, not so well. Not only did McConnell’s knee-jerk obstruction for the benefit of his political party not take down the president, but it was also thoroughly rejected in Senate races all over the country. While McConnell expressed certainty last year that Republicans would knock off a slew of Democratic incumbents and give him his precious (title of Senate majority leader), not a single one of those incumbents were defeated, with Republicans in fact losing two seats, increasing the Democratic majority to 55-45.
Elections have consequences, and the voters have endorsed Obama’s path forward, which included raising taxes on millionaires in order to avoid the fiscal cliff and tackle debt reduction. Will Mitch hear their calls? Judging by his non-conciliatory post-victory statement – which twice called the victorious president a failure – we’re not holding our breath. McConnell currently finds himself in the middle of two factions in the upcoming GOP civil war: Those who see they need to move to the center in order to avoid political extinction with the changing times and demographics, and those on the far-right (hey, Tea Party) who think they need to move even further to the right.
With McConnell up for re-election in 2014 – and scared out of his gourd that he’ll get “Lugar’d” by a Tea Party primary challenger – he won’t play too nice with Obama. But most sensible Republicans also know that this could mean political suicide for their party. What a dilemma, no? Perhaps the only thing saving McConnell from being replaced in leadership – due to yet another giant electoral failure — is the fact that he’s in the middle of the North and South of his own party. He’s also the money man they currently depend on, but with the rise of SuperPACs – which dwarfed spending by the NRSC – that might not mean as much as it used to.
But that’s all down the road. For right now, Obama is our returning Kenyan Overlord and there’s not a damned thing that Mitch and his buddies can do about it.
Winner: John Yarmuth; Loser: Ben Chandler
While Rep. John Yarmuth was busy winning a historic blowout victory in the once deep-red 3rd District congressional seat, Rep. Ben Chandler was facing defeat by a surprisingly large margin to Tea Party ally Andy Barr in Lexington.
While Yarmuth’s strategy of making liberal votes and vigorously defending them by engaging the public appears to have made him invincible from defeat, Chandler’s strategy of cowering from Democratic policies in order to appease conservative voters – and avoiding engagement at all costs – can finally be crowned a failure.
Is Chandler’s district more conservative than Yarmuth’s? Sure. And it would have continued to become more conservative with a Democratic representative who refused to sell his constituents on the worth of Democratic policies, instead choosing to undercut those policies whenever he could.
Politics is a game where hiding your head in the sand can work in the short term, but not in the long term. Eventually you have to get out there and stand for something, or else you might lose to a candidate as vapid as Andy Barr. Maybe Lexington can upgrade in 2014 with a Democrat who might not be as liberal as John Yarmuth, but will actually get out there and sell Democratic principles and fire up the party’s base.
Winner: Urban Democrats in Kentucky’s General Assembly; Loser: Rural Democrats in Kentucky’s General Assembly
Republicans won four seats in the state House, but there was no doubt that Democrats were much happier with this outcome than Republicans, who actually thought they had a great chance at 10 seats and taking the majority.
The reason that Republicans couldn’t take 10 is that their efforts to knock off urban Democrats turned out to be a giant dud. In Louisville, Steve Riggs, Charles Miller and Denny Butler all won handily – not to mention Sen. Perry Clark’s blowout win over Chris Thieneman — and in Lexington, Susan Westrom and Ruth Ann Palumbo both won double-digit victories despite the Republican Party throwing heavy money to their challengers.
Even in smaller urban cities, Democrats were able to hang on. Jody Richards and Gerald Watkins both had blowout victories in Bowling Green and Paducah, and in Owensboro – where Republicans spent a ton of money and effort – both Jim Glenn and John Arnold were able to hold onto tight victories in what most would call upsets.
But in rural districts, that was a different matter. Republicans absolutely cleaned house in far western Kentucky, flipping three open Democratic seats with relative ease. They also picked up seats in the 49th (Bullitt Co.), 61st (Grant Co.), and pulled off a big upset against incumbent Teddy Edmonds in eastern Kentucky’s 91st district. A few other rural Democrats who had an enormous money advantage, such as Jeff Greer and Bob Damron, escaped defeat by the skin of their teeth.
Republicans were at least hoping to win enough seats that they would be able to get a few Democrats to switch parties and take back the majority, but with the current House make-up at 55-45 Democrats (assuming Arnold’s win by 5 votes holds after the recount), that now seems unlikely. Republicans’ saving grace is the age and slim margins of victories of a number of Democratic incumbents, with hopes that they’ll gain more seats in 2014.
But that speaker’s gavel will remain in Greg Stumbo’s hands for the time being.
Winner: Gays and potheads; Loser: Homophobes and D.A.R.E.
Before Tuesday, marriage equality was 0-32 when it came to state referendums. Tuesday? 4-0. Voters in Maine, Maryland and Washington all approved same-sex marriage and voters in Minnesota rejected banning it, showing that the new civil rights front of our time is charging forward and leaving the past – Republicans and timid Democrats – behind. (Looking at you, Kentucky.)
On the reefer front, Colorado and Washington voters approved legalizing recreational use of marijuana, giving the green light to – as Steve Doocy of Fox News said – get “potted up on weed.” But until the federal government changes their red light, this matter will be fought in the courts.
While Kentucky may be getting left behind on the LGBT rights front… Louisville did happen to hand our own Perry Clark – who openly admits to using marijuana frequently – a resounding blowout victory for another term in the state Senate. So we have that going for us.
Loser: White men; Winner: Everybody else.
This election was the death knell for the days of white men calling the shots in America, as Obama’s 2008 coalition of women, African-Americans and Latinos not only stayed put, but strengthened. With America’s demographics continuing to change in this direction, it’s time for the Republicans to come up with a new game plan, or else they’re looking at a future of irrelevance as… minorities.
Winner: Rep. Jim Glenn and reproductive rights; Loser: Anti-choice fringe
State Rep. Jim Glenn took a couple of bold votes this year against anti-abortion measures in Kentucky’s Health and Welfare Committee, and faced an all out assault because of it in his re-election race. But Glenn stood by his votes – as did a few other House Democrats under fire — and managed to shock Republicans by holding onto his seat, again by a slim margin.
On the national level, scores of Republicans with baffling statements and positions on forcing women impregnated by their rapist to give birth – most notably Todd Akin in Missouri and Richard Mourdock in Indiana – faced defeat.
You would think that Republicans would learn their lesson and never (ever ever ever) mention rape and abortion again in the same sentence. But we doubt it.
Winner: Councilwoman-elect Marilyn Parker; Loser: Louisville
Birther/Muslim-truther/conspiracy theory-aficionado Marilyn Parker easily won her Metro Council race in the 18th district. We could say that the silver lining is being entertained by her certain future of crazy statements, but we don’t think that assault on our dignity is worth it. Lord help all you secret communists on the council… Parker is sure to expose you.
Winner: Irrational fears of Obama confiscating your fishing poles; Loser: Common sense
Kentuckians voted overwhelmingly to amend our state constitution to protect our right to fish and hunt. Thank God. Obama went through his first term without confiscating our fishing poles and hunting rifles, but you know he was only waiting until his second term to send his minions into our homes on the orders of his PETA puppet masters. Checkmate, Obama.