KY-Sen: Momentum Out of Last Night

Last night, Democrat Steve Beshear won the governorship of Kentucky by a 58.7 percent to 41.3 percent margin, knocking off a Republican incumbent and giving the Democrats some confidence and momentum heading into election day 2008 in the commonwealth, when Senate Majority Minority Leader Mitch McConnell will be up for reelection. It's not yet clear just who will be McConnell's challenger next fall, but there's a lot of buzz going on surrounding state Auditor Crit Luallen, who won reelection by a wide margin last night. Mark Nickolas has the details via an email from a reader over at the Bluegrass Report.

I was at a Democratic Senate Campaign Committee fundraiser tonight at Senator Kennedy's home in Washington.  Senator Schumer spoke about next year's senate races to the 100 or so people attending. He talked most specifically about Kentucky and said that Crit Luallen - he mentioned her by name and the fact that she is now the state auditor - will soon be entering the race against McConnell (I think he said she has "pretty much decided to enter the race" or words to that effect).  He noted the DSCC polling showed her trailing McConnell by only three points (46 to 43 - close to the recent public polling). Anything more certain being reported in Kentucky at the moment?  Schumer made it sound like it was essentially a done deal, and he added that the DSCC was going to significantly back her.

Whether or not it's "a done deal", as Nickolas' emailer suggests, or not, it is clear that folks within Kentucky want to see Luallen run. Check out the new Draft Crit site up today from Kentucky native Liz Fossett.

Today, leading Democrats from across Kentucky launched a campaign to elect State Auditor Crit Luallen to the U.S. Senate. Yesterday, the Commonwealth of Kentucky showed its overwhelming confidence in Crit Luallen by electing her to her second term with over 60% percent of the vote.

By building on her statewide victory in 2003, State Auditor Luallen proved that she can win votes across the state, and give Kentucky a U.S. Senator they can be proud of. Her dependability and dedication to the people of Kentucky make her the ideal candidate to clean up Washington, DC with some real Kentucky values.

Today the campaign also launched a website, www.DraftCrit.com. Kentuckians are encouraged to visit the website to sign the petition to support Crit.

As I've said often on this site, Mitch McConnell is in an awful lot of trouble these days. Not only is he quite unpopular within Kentucky but now he's forced to run in a Kentucky that is seemingly a lot bluer than a whole lot of folks think. Crit Luallen might just be the right person to build on the Democrats' momentum from last night and knock McConnell off next year -- and if you'd like to see her get in the race, head over to DraftCrit.com and get involved.

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Crit Luallen and the KY "bench"

I haven't seen this mentioned here, but my impression of the Democratic "bench" in Kentucky (I grew up there -- moved away 6 years ago or so, so I'm not quite as up to date as I used to be) is that just as significant as electing a governor (and lt. gov.) this time, we have set ourselves up with a strong bench.  

The '94 congressional elections and the aftermath of Gov. Patton's (D-Corrupt) adminstation left the Kentucky Democratic Party in a sad state.  We had no statewide farm team to groom for higher office.

What a difference now!  In addition to electing Steve Beshear governor, new Treasurer Jack Conway and reelected Auditor Crit Luallen will go on to run for higher office.  And Lt. Gov.-Elect Dr. Dan Mongiardo (who lost the squeaker in '04 against US Sen. Bunning (R)) has has his political fortunes dramatically revived.

But the most significant of these may be Crit Luallen.  To quote the Bluegrass Report (sorry for the lengthy quote -- please go check out BGR):

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Election Results Thread

In the results out of Kentucky -- with 2,307 (65.1%) of 3,543 precincts reporting -- the Democratic slate for Governor and Lieutenant Governor, Steve Beshear and Dan Mongiardo, leads the Republican slate of Ernie Fletcher and Robbie Rudolph by a 60.5% to 39.5% margin according to unofficial results provided by the Kentucky State Board of Elections. More results as they come in...

Update [2007-11-6 19:2:45 by Todd Beeton]: From WaPo, here's a rundown of the 9 most competitive Virgina state senate seats. Democrats need a net gain (i.e. R seats switching to D) of 4 seats to win control of the senate. (* = incumbent.)

District 1: John C. Miller (D), Patricia B. "Tricia" Stall (R)

District 6: Ralph S. Northam (D), D. Nick Rerras* (R)

District 27: Donald C. Marro (I), Karen Schultz (D), Jill Holtzman Vogel (R)

District 29: Charles J. Colgan* (D), Robert Fitzsimmonds (R)

District 28: Albert Pollard (D), Richard Stuart (R)

District 33: Mark R. Herring* (D), Patricia B. Phillips (R)

District 34: Jeannemarie Devolites Davis* (R), J.C. "Chap" Petersen (D)

District 37: Ken, II Cuccinelli* (R), Janet S. Oleszek (D)

District 39: George L. Barker (D), J.K. "Jay" O'Brien, Jr.* (R)

Not Larry Sabato has called the District 34 race for "Chap" Peterson, defeating Rep. Tom Davis's wife. Per NLS, with that one under our belt, Democrats now just need to win 4 of the remaining 8 competitive races to win control of the senate; Republicans need to win 5 to retain it.

Update [2007-11-6 19:32:39 by Todd Beeton]: Virginia results are coming in HERE.

Update [2007-11-6 20:13:4 by Todd Beeton]: Winners of the VA state senate races in bold.

Update [2007-11-6 20:23:20 by Jonathan Singer]: The Kentucky Governor's race has been called for Steve Beshear. Now, onward and forward to take on Mitch McConnell! (Notice that the state Auditor's race has also been called for Democratic incumbent Crit Luallen...)

Update [2007-11-6 20:42:38 by Todd Beeton]: Great news for Democrats in Kentucky tonight. John Cheves at the Lexington Herald Leader has this great on the ground report (h/t Bluegrass Report):

U.S. Rep. Ben Chandler, D-Versailles, just trotted through the press room with an ear-to-ear grin, saying hello to everyone, slapping backs and wishing folks a great evening.

The congressman bolted into a V.I.P. crowd faster than I could follow, but he's clearly enjoying Election Night 2007 more than he did Election Night 2003. That's when Ernie Fletcher clobbered him by a 10-point margin and became the first Republican governor in a generation.

Four years later, Chandler has Fletcher's old seat in the U.S. House representing Central Kentucky; he's in the majority party in Congress; and he belongs to the powerful House Appropriations Committee, which decides federal spending. By contrast, the evening's election returns suggest Fletcher soon could be looking for work.

"I think we've brought the Democrats back home tonight," said Democratic State Auditor Crit Luallen, who is cruising to re-election tonight over Republican Linda Greenwell."

Update [2007-11-6 21:10:43 by Todd Beeton]:Not Larry Sabato is reporting that Democrats need just one more Virginia senate seat to take the majority. Right now they're at 20/40 with 3 races yet to be decided. The bolded names above are the winners. And check it out, the Democrat is currently ahead in all 3.

Update [2007-11-6 22:33:12 by Jerome Armstrong]: It all comes down to two seats for the senate control. The 37th and 39th districts. Dems have 20 seats, Repubs have 18; we need one of these seats for control of the state senate and fair redistricting for 2012.

I'm at elction central at Tyson's Corner, hopeful!

Update [2007-11-6 23:25:16 by Jerome Armstrong]: Barker's been declared the winner, Dems win the Senate in Virginia!

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KY-Gov Prediction: Beshear 59 - Fletcher 41

As Todd noted, it's election day in Kentucky and the Republicans are up to their normal dirty tricks. But gauging by polling out of the states, it seems that these tricks may be for naught, with a new SurveyUSA poll putting Democrat Steve Beshear up 20 points over incumbent Republican Governor Ernie Fletcher and even the folks at Insider Advantage, who have consistently found Beshear's lead to be significantly lower than that of any other poll, estimating Beshear's margin of victory at 12 points based on numbers they have seen but apparently have not released.

(R)(D)
Fletcher/
Rudolph
Beshear/
Mongiardo
SurveyUSA
11/2-4
3959
Insider Advantage
(prediction)
4456
Rasmussen Reports
11/1
3954
Bluegrass Poll
10/26-29
3356
Research 2000
10/22-24
4055
1-Month Average
10/10-11/4
38.756.8
7-Month Average
5/23-11/4
37.254.9

Earlier polls below the fold...

If I had to make a guess as to the results of this race, I'd probably say Beshear will win 59 percent to 41 percent. I'm not always so good at these things, though I did correctly predict Jim Bunning's 50.7 percent to 49.3 percent victory over Dan Mongiardo in the 2004 Kentucky Senate election, for whatever that's worth (notice, too, that my other predictions on election eve 2004 were more than a bit off...). How do you think this race will break?

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Election Day

Happy election day! Are you voting? What's the buzz on the ground? What's the turnout like? Here is a round-up of the more high-profile races being decided today:

In Kentucky, the Ernie Fletcher/Steve Beshear showdown is finally upon us. Democratic challenger Beshear goes into election day with a double digit lead over the incumbent and as TPM alerts us, the GOP is getting desperate.

Just yesterday, in an effort to boost his prospects among conservative voters, Fletcher put up a display containing the Ten Commandments in the state Capitol Rotunda, and a robocall from Pat Boone is warning that Beshears will work for "every homosexual cause."

Now comes word of a second anti-Beshear robocall with an anti-gay-themed message. This one purports to be from an actual gay rights organization in Kentucky and touts Beshears' support for "the homosexual lobby." But the group, Fairness.org, denies any being responsible for the call. The Fletcher campaign also denies any involvement.

This sounds to me to be all very 2004. Does this shit still work? We'll get a sense today. Local blog Bluegrass Report doesn't think it will and predicts a 61%-39% Beshear blowout. Would love to see Kentuckians send such a loud and clear message today.

Religion is playing a part in the Mississippi gubernatorial race as well where Democratic challenger John Arthur Eaves, Jr. has tried to puncture the goodwill Barbour received as a result of his response to Hurricane Katrina by tying Barbour to corruption.

Barbour's opponent, Democratic trial lawyer John Arthur Eaves Jr., quoted Scripture when he accused the governor of being beholden to "moneychangers" such as big tobacco, oil and insurance companies through his old Washington lobbying firm.

Barbour responded in a recent debate by reciting a passage from the Book of Daniel in which a hand appears out of nowhere to write a message on the wall of the temple in Babylon. If another hand appeared and wrote out a denial of Eaves' allegations, Barbour said, "that wouldn't be good enough for my opponent."

Conventional wisdom has it that Barbour will skate to an easy re-election.

In Virginia, hundreds of local races are being decided, the most significant of which will be in the state senate where Democrats need a net gain of just 4 seats to win control. Marc Ambinder puts the Democrats' chances this way:

Democrats are poised to take control of the State Senate (unless immigration gets in their way, which is possible).

If immigration is going to be a thorn in the side of Democrats next year, Virginia may tell us today. WaPo has more on what voters will be deciding today:

Voters will signal what direction government should take on such high-profile issues as immigration policy, improving traffic and managing growth. Their choices will indicate whether they approve of a transportation plan devised last winter by Republican lawmakers that funnels hundreds of millions to Northern Virginia roads and transit system but imposes steep new fees on the state's worst drivers. And in races in which candidates have focused on immigration policy, they will indicate whether they want action on this emotional issue at the state and local level.

Polls in Virginia close at 7pm EST and as always, check out Raising Kaine for local coverage.

The AP has a rundown of some ballot measures that are being decided today as well:

Several states were voting on ballot measures, including a Utah proposal that would create the nation's first statewide school voucher program open to all families. If approved, the plan would grant $500 to $3,000, depending on income, for each child sent to private school. Unlike other voucher plans geared toward low-income students or those in failing schools, Utah's plan would be available to anyone, even affluent families in well-performing districts.

Oregon voters considered a measure to raise the cigarette tax by 84.5 cents a pack -- to $2.02 -- to fund health insurance for about 100,000 children now lacking coverage. Tobacco companies opposing the plan have outspent supporters by a 4-1 margin, contributing nearly $12 million.

New Jersey voters were deciding a referendum authorizing the state to borrow $450 million over 10 years to finance stem cell research. The Roman Catholic Church and anti-abortion groups opposed the measure, which was placed on the ballot by the Legislature with strong backing from Gov. Jon Corzine.

Check out Swing State Project for a more comprehensive list of races to watch and each state's poll closing times.

What races are you watching today?

Update [2007-11-6 12:50:48 by Todd Beeton]:Progressive Majority is doing some excellent and largely unheralded work at the local level around the country. Check out a rundown of all the great progressive candidates whose races will be decided today HERE.

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