Dear Kentucky Republican lawmakers,
Sure, the 2019 election was a good night for Democrats.
On the other hand, it was an even better night for the Republican Party! You might not have won the top race, but you comfortably swept the other five statewide races. And seeing as each of the victorious-Republican candidates received on average over-100,000 votes more than did Gov. Matt Bevin, in one sense, many Republicans got their choice for governor, too.
True, Republicans control the Senate by 20 seats and, after winning two special elections last Tuesday, you control the state house by 22 seats. The governor’s mansion is indeed a small, blue island in a vast sea of red, and if Gov.-elect Andy Beshear wants to survive again in four years, he needs to start fortifying the foundation immediately.
In many ways, the GOP has a firm grasp on Kentucky government and it would be easy for you to steamroll the incoming governor. After all, Bevin’s loss is his own fault, and now he’s gone thanks to massive vote margins in Louisville and Lexington.
But Bevin also lost in strong Republican areas of Northern Kentucky, and he failed to achieve the same vote margins as he had four years ago in many rural areas. Just look at the map. For many Republican lawmakers, you’ll find your counties aren’t as deep red as they were, and your races are determined by a lot fewer votes.
Republicans, you should work with Beshear.
What’s so funny about that?
Teachers deserve tremendous credit for organizing and mobilizing to beat Bevin, and you all have teachers in your districts. Teachers also now have an ally and advocate in Beshear.
One of Beshear’s core proposals during the campaign was to give every teacher in the state a $2,000 raise. In an election year, do you really want to be the legislator standing between teachers and a much-needed (much-deserved) raise?
Also, consider two promises Beshear made on election night: Beshear doesn’t need Republican lawmakers’ help to rescind Bevin’s Medicaid-work requirement waiver (or Bevin’s order to repeal Medicaid expansion) and he can restore the voting rights of 140,000 citizens through executive order.
What’s more problematic for you Republicans is that U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell — the other Kentucky politician who is hated about as much as Bevin — is up for election next year… as if the teachers, organizers and reinvigorated Democrats needed extra motivation to show up next year.
In sports, after a big win, sometimes there is a letdown effect for the team in the next game. However, for teams that aren’t used to winning — in this case, Democrats — it has the opposite, motivating effect: “Let’s go do this again!
Did you not see the other big news from election night? Democrats flipped the state House of Delegates for the first time in Virginia since the late-‘90s. And, since 2015, Democrats in Virginia gained 20 seats to make it happen.
Are you looking to avoid angry voters, but not sure how? Just ask yourself: What would Bevin do?
Don’t copy and paste boilerplate bills, half-cooked by some “free market” think tank and shove them through the legislature while ignoring opposition voices (be they Democrats or teachers for example) or disregarding the open legislative process.
Not convinced? Wondering what’s in it for you, Republican lawmaker?
For starters, Beshear will be eager to work with you — he doesn’t have a choice — if he wants to have any legislative accomplishments. And, believe it or not, sometimes negotiating and giving away some things you don’t like is the best way to get something important to you.
Also, remember that Bevin showed little or no leadership on policy issues and didn’t hesitate to embarrass and insult some of you for his own political gain.
Don’t worry — there will be plenty of time to play political games with Gov. Beshear — like forcing him to veto oppressive-women’s health bills. Nobody is saying you can’t poke the politically-correct, liberal snowflakes with your culture-scyth. Believe me, we expect the worst.
But, for your own sake, don’t take the path of total obstruction. It’s very authoritarian… very Bevin. And you don’t want to be like Bevin.
Thoughts and prayers,