Wednesday, February 18, 2004

And Now The Good News

Ben Chandler won the special election in the Kentucky 6th, a major victory for Democrats and, hopefully, a sign of things to come.

According to Kos, the original headline on that CBS news article was "Ky. Vote May Signal Nation's Mood." I suppose they changed it to avoid charges of "liberal bias," but I think the original headline was perfectly justified. This wasn't just any Congressional election - both parties targeted the election as a major priority, and both candidates presented the race as a referendum on the Bush Administration's policies:
Chandler’s opponent, the Republican state senator Alice Forgy Kerr, who has tried to turn this race into a referendum on Bush. In fact, she began airing an ad last month that said she and Bush are “cut from the same cloth.”

“In the governor’s race that Chandler just ran, he made his opposition to Bush a centerpiece,” Kerr’s campaign manager told the Associated Press earlier this month. “Senator Kerr is making an equally big centerpiece out of her support for the president in her campaign.”
Kerr had all the help she could possibly have had from the national Republican leadership, including a repellent threat from Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert that he would only support a tobacco buyout plan for Kentucky farmers if Kerr were elected. The KY 6th usually votes Republican, so it's great news for the Democrats that Kerr's alliance with the national Republican leadership seems to have hurt more than it helped. Here's Kos again:
But then the polls showed her numbers dropping, despite running in a GOP-majority district. So she was then forced to distance herself from Bush. Bush himself cancelled campaign appearances on her behalf. The "popular" president was suddenly radioactive in solid red territory.

This distancing will reach its absurd conclusion when Cheney holds a fundraiser for Kerr on Saturday, February 7th.

In Illinois.

Seems that Kerr's own internal polling showed a Cheney appearance in her district would hurt more than help.
I know a lot of Dems who are feeling fatalistic and discouraged about the upcoming election. The results in the KY 6th should be powerfully heartening: it ain't over. If a Democrat can win in Kentucky on a message of lost jobs and Bush failures, Democrats can win nationally. We can't roll over and give in now.