Thanks to our mentally-ill, racist, reckless comrade-in-chief, President Trump, record numbers of Democratic candidates are filing to run for offices across the country… Viva la Resistance!
Trump’s also driving scores of Republicans, who realize their electoral fate is inevitably soon, to early retirement.
Kentucky is no different.
To date, nearly 40 new Democratic candidates have filed to run for the state House — and more a sure to join within the next two weeks, before the filing deadline. For Kentucky Democrats, with first-time candidates jumping in and several party elders retiring, the wave might be coming at the perfect time for the Party. The GOP is vulnerable, but to capitalize on the opportunity the Party needs new candidates to run as unapologetic, fearless progressives. They need to be unified, but not defer to the old Party structures.
The Kentucky Democratic Party hit bottom in 2016, losing control of the state legislature for the first time in nearly 100 years. The Democrats were powerless to defend the state from Republican supermajorities, an ideologically-zealous governor and a laundry list of super-conservative policies. Kentucky appears to have turned beet-red — revealing that the KDP was in total disarray.
However, just as President Obama fueled the red wave last decade, Trump may find his party suffering the same level of defeat in November.
In addition to the Trumpster fire, the unpopularity of Gov. Matt Bevin, his unwavering commitment to cut budgets and pensions, attacks on women’s health rights and implementing work requirements for Medicaid recipients — not to mention sex scandals — puts into question the future of the Republican Party. Oh and they won’t have a black guy, a woman or Obamacare to run against.
And while Republicans control the state House by 26 seats, their position is more fragile than it seems: Democrats lost 15 elections by nearly 16,000 votes in the last election… 16,000 total. That’s less than 1,100 votes in 15 races away from the majority.
The Democrats will pick up seats in the Kentucky House and possibly the Senate. As of today, they’ll need to flip 14 seats to regain outright control of the House. If they don’t do it this year, they’ll be within striking distance in 2020, when Trump or Putin — maybe even Mike Pence or someone else — will headline the GOP’s ticket… at which point the wave will be a tsunami and wash away the Republican majority.
There’s also a governor’s race in 2019, so it’s unclear if the new Democratic majority will be negotiating with, or led by, the governor.
In any scenario, this could be the perfect moment for the Democratic resurgence… make that, the Democratic revival in Kentucky.
It’s time for the changing of the Democratic guard: cultivate the new leaders, now, to be effective legislators of tomorrow.
As many as nine of the elder-Democratic stalwarts are retiring: Louisville representatives Darryl Owens (13 years in office), Jim Wayne (27 years) and Steve Riggs (27 years), as well as former House Speaker Jody Richards (41 years) among others. These are great Party leaders and the institutional knowledge that they take with them will be irreplaceable.
But the Democratic Party has to get younger; It can’t continue to lay claim to the party of Millennials and future generations if it continues to be led by the previous ones.
The dozens of candidates in Kentucky, and hundreds around the country, are running because they are scared of the backwards-looking, ineffective, offensive behavior of the GOP. They believe that government must work better for all Americans.
As we’ve seen with the reality-TV president and the newly empowered GOP in Washington, experience matters when it comes to effectively governing. Democrats need to get younger.
They also must be the anti-Bevin and anti-Tump.
But, most of all, they need to be professional. They need to be responsible and respectful and considerate. They need to be honest. They need to lead with class.
Without these things, the new Democrats will have a shorter shelf-life than the old Democrats. But if a new generation of young, passionate and professional Democratic leaders are swept in with the coming wave… Kentucky might be blue once again.