Like A Phoenix from the Ashes… Big Ern.

As votes poured in from county to county, Kentucky’s Democratic Party had a great deal to celebrate last night. The one particularly frightening candidate failed to make the cut, a nice guy with an equally nice running mate actually did, and with 41% of the vote falling to the Beshear camp, there will be no need for an expensive and time consuming runoff. In other words, we can start fighting the Republicans now instead of fighting ourselves for a few more weeks.

However, of all the reasons to get excited about the Democratic Primary, the biggest and best reason happens to be on the other side of the aisle. I’m talking, of course, about the re-nomination of Ernie “Big Ern” Fletcher. Much to the surprise of many, both in and out of the Republican Party, Fletcher never actually lost much of a step to Northrup, keeping his current office within sight throughout the entire primary. Most surprising of all, Northrup’s call that challenger Billy Harper’s bid would act only as a spoiler also proved to be groundless. A quick check of the math shows that even if every person that cast a vote for Harper’s campaign had directed their vote to Northrup (which clearly is unreasonable to suggest) she still would have failed to topple Fletcher by a margin of 362 votes.

One obvious reason to find yourself excited about the upcoming Beshear/Flecher title bout coming your way this fall is the very same thing that Northrup built her campaign around, Fletcher’s electability. However, just as Ann Northrup learned last night, it’s dangerous to underestimate the Fletcher machine. Big Ern is a polarizing figure in the state, with very little wiggle room when it comes to undecided voters. However, the party loyal in the GOP won’t be swayed to the left easily. Democrats can expect to see a hard-fought general election and should be extremely wary of discounting Fletcher’s challenge. He’s certainly vulnerable, but the power of incumbency along with the ever-widening “red state” attitudes of Kentuckians will ensure that victory doesn’t come without some gnashing of teeth.

Honestly, the biggest reason to be excited about last night’s Electopalooza wasn’t necessarily Flecher’s win, as much as it was Northrup’s loss. Ann Northrup is a proud member of the Mitch McConnell machine, running campaigns funded by his people and organized by his minions. Watching her go down in defeat last night was the latest in a series of McConnellites failing to break out with the voters (does any one remember Alice Forgy Kerr… whatever happened to her?). Mitch didn’t just want Big Ern to lose, he needed Big Ern to lose. State Republicans will have no choice but to get behind Fletcher in the general election, thus empowering him to exact his revenge on McConnell, hound dog ads and all. The Fletcher victory has done something on a statewide scale that has, in the past, seemed impossible… he has marginalized McConnell’s impact in Republican politics.

Of course, this will all come out in the wash next year when Mitch is thrown to the wolves in a reelection bid for the U.S. Senate. Fletcher has proven that he has a long memory, just ask any of the counties in his former congressional district that chose not to support him in his gubernatorial run four years ago. While I can’t imagine that he will outwardly campaign against McConnell, I certainly don’t expect any favors coming from the Republican standard-bearer. In a state like Kentucky, where much of the politickin’ is done doorstep to doorstep, that could prove to be problematic for an incumbent senator already dealing with a shaky allegiance to an unpopular president and a staunch support for a war who’s approval ratings, even in the deepest of hollers, are dropping by the minute. Needless to say, Mitch may be facing a considerably more difficult battle for reelection than he had anticipated, which isn’t only good for The Commonwealth of Kentucky, but also happens to be good for the entire nation.

And so begins the endless stream of campaigning that shall run from this very moment until November of 2008.

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5 Responses to “Like A Phoenix from the Ashes… Big Ern.”

  1. Sarah Says:

    Alice Forgy Kerr is a State Senator, representing Fayette Co’s finest, and a member of the A&R Committee that killed HB 403. Raspberries.

  2. Brinton Says:

    I wholeheartedly agree that it will be good for the nation. I always assumed that McConnell got us some pork back home though. I mean, why else would anyone vote for him?

  3. Kevin Says:

    Polarizing Republicans have an uncanny ability to get re-elected. Exhibit W: El presidente.

  4. Anonymous Says:

    How did Bull Man finish?

  5. Anonymous Says:

    That’s really all I care about now that there is no danger of a Queen Anne in our near future.

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