Short version, for those in a hurry: national Democrats keep forcing state Democrats to support things that state voters don’t care for. This happened across the country last year, it happened in Kentucky last night, and it’ll keep happening until state Democrats start metaphorically backhanding national Democrats. Which is to say: it’ll keep happening for a while.
There are three particular areas where Jack Conway got fitted for the albatross:
- Coal. It is no secret that national Democrats hate coal production; I cannot say that it is like a religious mania for them, only because I firmly believe that it is a religious mania for them. Jack Conway made a bad call, back in 2009: at the time, it looked like Barack Obama was going to be able to push through radical cap-and-trade policies, and [Jack Conway] duly supported them. He’s been trying to shake that error of judgement off – and losing Senate and gubernatorial bids in the process – ever since. It would appear that Kentucky voters did not believe that a Governor Conway would do anything meaningful, or indeed anything at all past pious assurances that now he’s all about the anthracite, baby*.
- Obamacare. One of the most entertaining, not to say hysterical, that lame-duck Democrat Governor Steve Beshear said this cycle was “In 2016, I predict the Democratic nominee will make [Obamacare] a major issue and will pound the Republicans into the dust with it.” Done, mind you, while predicting that Matt Bevin would lose. Well, not only did Bevin win, but he won sufficiently that the Democratic leadership’s casual assumption that Kentucky’s Kynect Obamacare exchange would be sacrosanct anyway is now looking remarkably unsupported. Remember: Governor Beshear created that program by executive order… hold on, let me put this in more archaic terms: the old King of Kentucky ordered that a thing be done, by Royal decree. The new King of Kentucky hath no obligation to respect that edict, and may at his Royal leisure end or amend it, as it suits his Kentuckian Majesty. …Does that bug Democrats? Well, maybe the Democrats should have tried passing a law. Elections have consequences.
- The entire Kim Davis thing. As you might recall, Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis’s refusal to sign same-sex marriage certificates blew up in Kentucky Democrats’ faces this summer. If there was ever a time that a state Democratic party needed its national counterparts to shut up and sit in the corner, this was the time; it put Jack Conway in an impossible position. The truth of the matter is, Kentucky voters do not approve of same-sex marriage. They had it imposed on them, and they’re apparently not too happy about it. If Conway had been able to tell national Democrats where to head in – and not gotten screamed at, and possibly threatened, in response – he’d have been in a better position to win.
Note, by the way, that none of this should be seen as a dismissal of why Matt Bevin won. We have folks here at RedState discussing that already. But I really wanted to drill down on the reasons for a Conway loss, because it’s all pretty relevant, here. National Democrats seem incapable of letting their state parties breathe. Which is great in the short term for us; but eventually there’s going to be a revolt over on the Other Side, and if we’re not prepared for that then we might get caught by surprise. It’s become pretty obvious that progressives cannot govern well; it thus behooves us to govern extremely well, so that when we are inevitably defeated in a state election it’s by somebody who has decided that imitation is the sincerest form of political survival.
*Jack Conway will be a full-on anti-coal warrior by 2018, by the way. I’ve seen this particular movie before.