By Robert A. Vella
In the 2016 presidential election, Donald Trump won Kentucky by 30 points. As red states go, it’s about as red as they come. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has held his seat in that body since 1985 despite record low approval ratings in recent years. Incumbent Republican governor Matt Bevin should’ve had no trouble getting reelected in Kentucky’s off-year election when voter turnout is traditionally low, but he hurt his chances by attacking popular social programs like Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. Obamacare). To offset his unpopularity, he ran his campaign as a referendum on President Trump and against the impeachment inquiry by Democrats in the House of Representatives. That strategy, he presumed, would rally Kentuckians to his side.
There was only one problem with that strategy – it didn’t work. Last night, Kentuckians elected Democratic challenger Andy Beshear whose campaign focused exclusively on restoring those social programs Bevin was attacking. Voter turnout increased by about 500,000 since the last gubernatorial election, and the largest shift of votes occurred in the state’s suburbs marking a continuation of a national trend since the 2018 midterms. The margin of Beshear’s victory was close, by roughly 5,000 votes, but this was definitely Bevin’s race to win (note that all the other GOP candidates won their statewide contests last night). That he lost must be cause for concern among Senate Republicans up for reelection next year who have been employing a similar strategy to Bevin’s, and that includes the aforementioned McConnell.
Oh, by the way, Democrats won full control of the state legislature in Virginia too – for the first time this century. In deep-red Mississippi, the GOP held onto the governorship there although by an unspectacular margin of less than 6 points.
In today’s other big story, U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland revised his congressional testimony yesterday – fearing perjury charges – and confirmed that Trump’s withholding of military aid to Ukraine was a quid pro quo (i.e. a bribe) to coerce their government to dig up dirt on his political rival Joe Biden. Meanwhile, one of the Soviet-born business associates of Rudy Giuliani – Lev Parnas – arrested for funneling foreign money to Republican politicians has decided to testify before the House impeachment inquiry a day after Trump denied knowing him. Apparently, Trump’s denial angered him since evidence of their relationship does in fact exist including photos.
Democrats’ claim of victory Tuesday in Kentucky’s gubernatorial race, as well as the Democratic takeover of the Virginia state legislature, left Republicans stumbling and increasingly uncertain about their own political fates next year tied to an embattled and unpopular president.
Many allies of President Trump rushed to explain away the poor performance of incumbent Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin (R) as an anomaly, while other GOP veterans expressed alarm about the party’s failure in a state where Trump won by nearly 30 percentage points in 2016 — and where he just campaigned this week.
Although Bevin was controversial and widely disliked, he was also a devotee of the president, embracing Trump’s agenda and his anti-establishment persona. And in the contest’s final days, Bevin sought to cast his candidacy as a bulwark against House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry of Trump.
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Virginia Democrats continued their winning streak under President Trump on Tuesday and took full control of the statehouse for the first time in more than two decades.
Democrats won majorities in both the state House and Senate in the marquee warmup for next year’s presidential election, the third election in a row in which they have made significant gains since Trump was elected.
Of the four states with legislative elections this year, Virginia is the only one where control of the statehouse was up for grabs. Republicans had slim majorities in both the state House and Senate.
Tuesday’s election could help determine which party rules for the next decade, as the winners will decide who controls the next redistricting process. A tea party-fueled wave in state legislatures — including Virginia’s — a decade ago helped Republicans fortify their control of the U.S. House for years.
The federal courts recently redid Virginia’s maps, saying Republicans illegally packed too many black voters into certain districts to make surrounding districts friendlier to Republicans. The new map is friendly to Democrats and has put two top Republicans — Speaker Kirk Cox and House Appropriations Chairman Del. Chris Jones — at greater risk of losing their seats.
JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Republicans are keeping their hold on the governorship in Mississippi, despite facing the best-funded Democrat to run for the position in more than a decade.
Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves on Tuesday defeated Democratic Attorney General Jim Hood and two candidates who ran low-budget campaigns.
WASHINGTON — A critical witness in the impeachment inquiry offered Congress substantial new testimony this week, revealing that he told a top Ukrainian official that the country likely would not receive American military aid unless it publicly committed to investigations President Trump wanted.
The disclosure from Gordon D. Sondland, the United States ambassador to the European Union, in four new pages of sworn testimony released on Tuesday, confirmed his involvement in laying out a quid pro quo to Ukraine that he had previously not acknowledged. The issue is at the heart of the impeachment investigation into Mr. Trump, which turns on the allegation the president abused his power to extract political favors from a foreign power.
Mr. Trump has consistently maintained that he did nothing wrong and that there was no quid pro quo with Ukraine.
One woman was shot at close range in the chest. One child was shot in the back. Several others — among them 6-month-old twins — were burned beyond recognition when one of the vehicles caught fire.
When the shooting stopped, six children and three women were dead, all members of the LeBarón family, dual Mexican and American citizens who have lived for decades in a fundamentalist Mormon community near the border.
But coming closely on the heels of two other prominent episodes of violence, the ambush horrified a nation reeling from a record-high number of murders. And it added to the pressure on Mexico’s president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, to fulfill the promise he made when he took office nearly a year ago: that he would curb the killings.
Mr. López Obrador seems to be struggling to fashion a coherent response.
A new report by 11,258 scientists in 153 countries from a broad range of disciplines warns that the planet “clearly and unequivocally faces a climate emergency,” and provides six broad policy goals that must be met to address it.
The analysis is a stark departure from recent scientific assessments of global warming, such as those of the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, in that it does not couch its conclusions in the language of uncertainties, and it does prescribe policies.
The study, called the “World scientists’ warning of a climate emergency,” marks the first time a large group of scientists has formally come out in favor of labeling climate change an “emergency,” which the study notes is caused by many human trends that are together increasing greenhouse gas emissions.
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Already besieged by problems including long wait times, the California Department of Motor Vehicles on Tuesday said it suffered a data breach in which federal agencies, including the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, had improper access to the Social Security information of 3,200 people issued driver’s licenses.
Notices of the data breach went out to those whose Social Security information — including whether or not a license holder had a Social Security number — was accessed during the last four years by seven agencies, including the Internal Revenue Service, the Small Business Administration, and district attorneys in San Diego and Santa Clara counties.