Trump and GOP sustain major losses in elections this week
Democratic gubernatorial candidate and Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear, along with lieutenant governor candidate Jacqueline Coleman, acknowledge supporters at the Kentucky Democratic Party election night victory party, Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2019, in Louisville, Ky. | Bryan Woolston/AP

In Kentucky and Virginia last night, the Republican Party sustained major losses. The defeat in Kentucky came on the heels of a last-minute Trump rally in the state during which the president literally begged an adoring crowd not to let the state’s GOP governor, Matt Bevin, go down to defeat.

In Virginia, meanwhile, Democrats gained control of both houses of the State Legislature, giving them full control of state government there for the first time in a quarter century.

The labor movement played a pivotal role in ousting the unpopular Bevin in Kentucky. The teachers made history there in their massive protests against pension cuts and starvation of the public education budget by the governor.

They and legions of state workers turned out for Democrat Andy Beshear, who made saving educators’ pensions and improved public schools central planks of his campaign. “While I am governor, the doors of the state capitol will always be open to you,” he told cheering teachers at his victory rally last night. In that speech, he attributed his victory in large part to the union support he enjoyed.

Still, Trump’s ability to pull in support for down-ballot Republicans can’t be entirely ruled out. Incumbent Republican Bevin went into the race with an incredibly low 30% approval rating but ended up with just a hair less than half the vote. At least some of that difference was likely made up by people in Trump’s base coming out to vote for the governor.

The results probably concern Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, though, a Kentuckian almost as unpopular as Bevin. McConnell is up for re-election in 2020, and if he is tied to an unpopular president, the chances he will go down to defeat increase. On the other hand, last night wasn’t all bad for McConnell, since the GOP attorney general candidate backed by him was victorious.

One could see today that Trump is worried about the mounting evidence against him in the impeachment inquiry. He bent over backwards Wednesday morning to make nice to McConnell by tweeting that, based on the Kentucky results, the senator “will win BIG…next year.” Trump would not survive the impeachment inquiry if McConnell ever worked up the nerve to do his duty as a senator and challenge the lawless president.

Democrats across the country celebrated the results in Kentucky because for their party, regardless of the reasons, the gains were huge. They did not actually expect a victory in a state in which Trump won the 2016 presidential election by 30 points.

In deeply red Mississippi, the Republican candidate for governor, Tate Reeves, won by a healthy margin last night, showing that there are probably red states where it will be next to impossible to bring down the president.

In swing and in less red states however, last night’s results were anything but encouraging for the president.

Virginia Republicans were afraid to associate themselves with Trump and pretended to be for health care and even gun law reform. The tactic failed, however, as they went down to defeat in both houses of the state legislature, giving Democrats total control of the state government. Democrat Ralph Northam was elected governor in 2017.

“They (Virginia Republicans) pretended they don’t even know who Trump is,” former Vice President and 2020 Democratic hopeful Joe Biden said in a statement issued by his campaign.

Bevin used a different tactic in Kentucky, though. He tethered himself to Trump, boasting about how support for the president was his strongest asset and his biggest goal. That tactic, of course, also failed.

It is significant that large sections of coal country in Kentucky last night voted against the GOP. Three years ago, many there bought into the president’s lie that he was going to reinvigorate the coal industry.


John Wojcik
John Wojcik

John Wojcik is Editor-in-Chief of People's World. He joined the staff as Labor Editor in May 2007 after working as a union meat cutter in northern New Jersey. There, he served as a shop steward and a member of a UFCW contract negotiating committee. In the 1970s and '80s, he was a political action reporter for the Daily World, this newspaper's predecessor, and was active in electoral politics in Brooklyn, New York.