Opinion Pieces


Kentucky State House Races Nationalized November 5, 2018 by Richard Nelson

The robo-call I received the other day from Pres. Trump endorsing incumbent state House member Walker Thomas (R-Hopkinsville) confirmed that Kentucky's state House races have been nationalized. Similar calls went out in 29 state House districts last Wednesday and if they can successfully tether local Democrats to far-left policies of national Democrats more Kentuckians will vote in the GOP column tomorrow.

The Democrat Party's platform support for abortion, transgender rights (Vermont's Democrat gubernatorial candidate and Hawaii's Lt. Gov candidate are both transgender), socialist economic policies led by the Bernie Sanders wing of the party, and amnesty for illegal immigrants are a few of the policies that have driven conservative Kentucky Democrats into the arms of Republicans.

In fact, Kentuckians are abandoning the Democratic party in droves. Since Gov. Bevin was elected in 2015, there have been 150,202 new Republican registrations compared to 6231 new Democrat registrations. In 2008, 36.3 percent of the voters were registered Republicans. Today 41.7 percent of Kentuckians are registered Republicans, shaving a 20 point gap in voter registration down to an eight point difference in less than a decade. The radical shift in party affiliation can be attributed to the hard-left politics of national Democrats.

The ugly smearing of Brett Kavanaugh and disorderly conduct throughout the SCOTUS confirmation process will motivate ambivalent voters once content with conservative gains to get out to vote Add to the mix, the migrant caravan marching through Mexico without permission. (Dems are perceived weak on illegal immigration). Judicial activism steers our country leftward without citizen input (abortion rights and gay marriage were established by the courts instead of the electorate). Clearly, this isn't Alben Barkley's and Ned Breathitt's party any more.

Yet the core constituencies of the old Kentucky Democratic party, sparked by GOP attempts to make structural changes to the state pension system, have regrouped. Teachers, state workers and unions' battlecry is to "Remember in November " as they work to unseat Republicans. Altogether, 31 Democratic candidates with ties to education are vying for state House seats.

Most of the money fueling this is coming from a Democratic PAC called Kentucky Family Values (KFV) —the group that ripped off the logo off of one of Kentucky's oldest conservative pro-family groups. KFV has raised $1.3 million ($650,000 from teachers unions) mostly to defeat state House Republicans.

Ironically, Republicans have fully funded the state pension system the last two budget cycles which is 75 percent more than former Gov. Steve Beshear and the Democratically controlled House did in his entire eight years in office. In the past two years, the GOP passed numerous pro-life, pro-religious freedom and pro-economic development laws.

According to the Tax Foundation, Kentucky jumped from 33 to 23rd in business tax climate. Over $9 billion in new economic development last year nearly doubled the previous single-year record. Unemployment is the lowest it's been since the 1960's and the number of people living in poverty is the lowest it's been in a decade. Gov. Bevin's federal Medicaid waiver (currently tied up in court) makes Kentucky the first state to require able-bodied recipients who aren't the primary caregiver of another family member to go to school or work part-time.

Elections are largely affairs of emotion. This doesn't mean that voters don't look at the facts, but multiple facts that create a positive narrative garners good feelings toward candidates and their political party. And the GOP is winning in this department, at least in Kentucky.

The average Kentucky voter outside of Lexington and Louisville leans conservative which is why Republicans are likely to do better than expected in state House races than some project. They may lose a few seats, but should retain a commanding majority in the state House.

The stakes are high on Tuesday and it remains to be seen if Kentucky will continue to move in a conservative direction. If KFV and KEA backed candidates fail to pull off big victories tomorrow, both groups stock will plummet and Republicans will be emboldened to push for broader education and pension reforms. The outcome of course hinges on which group can get the most people to the polls tomorrow.



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