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Stunning Democratic Win In Kentucky Special Election Offers Hope For Senate Race

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Although Kentucky is a red state that President Donald Trump won by 30 percent in 2016, a political shocker came when, in 2019, Republican Gov. Matt Bevin was voted out of office, and centrist Democrat Andy Beshear (now Kentucky's governor) won the election. And now, another shocker has come in the form of Democrat Karen Berg winning a Kentucky State Senate seat that had been in GOP hands for 25 years.

Berg's win in the special election was decisive. In Kentucky's 26th Senate District —where Republican Sen. Ernie Harris announced his retirement — Berg defeated Republican Bill Ferko by 14 percent. Berg will remain in the seat until 2022, when she will have to seek reelection.

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Democrats Cheer Stunning Victory In Kentucky Governor’s Race

UPDATE: Beshear has declared victory and multiple outlets have called the race for him with nearly all of the votes counted, but Bevin says he will not concede and is expected to call for a recount. Despite Beshear’s lead, the Associated Press has called the race “too close to call.”

Democrat Andy Beshear has been projected to win Kentucky’s gubernatorial race on Tuesday night, defeating the incumbent Republican Matt Bevin in the deep-red state, according to NBC News.

President Donald Trump had held a rally in support of Bevin’s candidate just the night before the race. But the Democrat’s electoral strength in the urban and suburban parts of the state locked in a win for Beshear in the tight race.

And while the results are important and consequential for the state itself, the race — like almost everything else — will inevitably be interpreted through a national lens.

At his rally Monday night, Trump even suggested it would reflect poorly on him if Bevin lost.

“You gotta vote because if you lose, it sends a really bad message. It just sends a bad and they’re going to build it up,” he told the crowd, as Kyle Griffin noted. “You can’t let that happen to me.”

Others, however, noted that there are specific circumstances in Kentucky that gave Beshear an edge.

“Bevin was uniquely unpopular, even within his own party. Barely won majority in primary. Lowest approval of any governor in America,” said the National Journal’s Josh Kraushaar. He noted Bevin angered many Kentuckians by fighting with teachers and blocking Medicaid expansion. And many observers noted that while Beshear won the governor’s race, Republicans won other races on the ballot, suggesting Bevin’s unique unpopularity was key to his defeat.

But if a Republican can become uniquely unpopular by going after unions and taking away health care — two of the party’s reasons for being — Democrats should be able to cheer that fact and figure out how to leverage it for their own advantage.

Video: Don Jr. Rally For Kentucky Gov. Bevin Draws Tiny Crowd

Donald Trump Jr. could not attract much of a crowd in an extremely pro-Trump area of Kentucky to rally for Gov. Matt Bevin on Thursday.

The eldest Trump son promoted the event on Tuesday to his 3.79 million followers with a link touting the event as “an excellent opportunity to show your support” for Bevin.

But the event turned out to be an embarrassing bust.

There were only about 200 people in attendance and the arena has a seating capacity of 7,000.

Videos taken of the venue showed hundreds of empty seats and wide-open spaces on the floor of the arena.

“Organizers have asked the audience to move out of the seats and closer to the stage ahead of Trump Jr/ Gov. Bevin event in Pikeville,” noted Kentucky Public Radio reporter Ryland Barton, who was on the scene. “I think it’s fair to say this is sparsely attended.”

The rally took place in Pike County, which Trump won in 2016 with 80% of the vote.

Speaking at the event, Trump Jr. claimed that he had roots in the rust belt and partly grew up there because he went to boarding school in Pottstown, Pennsylvania. Trump Jr. said that this experience made him better understand working-class issues.

The attendance flop highlights growing concerns about Bevin’s chances of reelection this November.

Recent polling has shown him 9 percentage points below his likely Democratic opponent, state Attorney General Andy Beshear. A poll in April showed he was the least popular governor in the country.

Bevin has been under fire for repeated attacks and smears of teachers in his state. He has also been criticized for trying to take health care away from residents, using his gubernatorial role to execute policy similar to what Trump has tried to do in the presidency.

The Trump administration has been pulling out all the stops to help Bevin. Trump Sr. visited him for a rally last Wednesday, and Mike Pence flew to the state three weeks ago to boost Bevin.

But all the help from the White House doesn’t seem to be improving Bevin’s standing in the state, and Trump Jr.’s disastrous visit shows just how weak his reelection chances might be.

Published with permission of The American Independent.

 

Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore

This Week In Crazy: The ‘Christian’ Right To Discriminate — And Much More

A Protestant Ministry holds South Carolina children for ransom, Matt Bevin turns Kentucky children into kidsicles, and an Alabama official channels his inner Joan Rivers. No, this isn’t a day at GOP Elder Daycare. It’s This Week in Crazy!

5. Reid Lehman
The Religious Right rejoiced as they pulled off a Hail Mary pass in their pursuit for discrimination. South Carolina lawmakers pushed for faith-based foster systems to have an exclusion from 45 CFR § 75.300.

According to that statute: “It is a public policy requirement of HHS that no person otherwise eligible will be excluded from participation in, denied the benefits of, or subjected to discrimination in the administration of HHS programs and services based on non-merit factors such as age, disability, sex, race, color, national origin, religion, gender identity, or sexual orientation.”

Evidently this policy offended the president of Miracle Hill Ministries, Reid Lehman. Miracle Hill runs a foster care system that is federally funded. The caveat? They only want to place children with Protestant parents.

Naturally, a Trump Administration official named Steven Wagner signed off on this unlawful and discriminatory request. Wagner agreed to a waiver that protected federal funding for Miracle Hill and Lehman’s right to hate.

Interestingly enough, the waiver states: “You specifically cite Miracle Hill, a faith-based organization that recruits 15 percent of the foster care families in the [South Carolina] Foster Care Program, and you state that, without the participation of such faith-based organizations, South Carolina would have difficulty continuing to place all children in need of foster care.”

Exploiting the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, Lehman convinced lawmakers that placing a child in the hands of a family with a different faith put the religious beliefs of his ministry in jeopardy. He effectively held needy kids up for ransom.

4. Matt Bevin
Baby, it’s cold outside…but not as cold as the heart of Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin. The country is hitting record lows, especially in the Midwest. So much so, the president is doing his tribal Global WAMING Dance:

You know who isn’t the mood for dancing? Matt Bevin. He’s tired of dealing with kids on snow days. So the governor is trying to bully Kentucky lawmakers to keep them in school.

With windchills set to hit 15 below zero, Kentucky considered following the lead of Minnesota and Illinois by closing schools. This triggered Father of the Year and Gov. Bevin.

Bevin exclaimed “[I]t does concern me a little bit that in America — on this and any number of other fronts — we’re sending messages to our young people that if life is hard, you can curl up in the fetal position somewhere in a warm place and just wait until it stops being hard.”

Well, that’s how the polar bears push through. That is, until Trump’s tribal Global WAMING Dance works…

3. John Bolton
Newest tactic by the Trump Administration? If they don’t want a wall, we’ll make them want a wall!  A Gallup News Poll finds that only 36 percent of Americans favor building a wall on the southern border. So how do we convince the sane population to want an insane project? By scaring them, of course.

According to GOP rhetoric, there are lots of “bad hombres” trying to get into America. Actually, the great majority are attempting to flee from crime, hunger, and violence. When oil prices dropped a few years ago, it ravaged the Venezuelan economy. Since 2015, three million migrants have fled Venezuela. Now, the Trump Administration is putting a crippling embargo on their only resource.

National Security Advisor John Bolton announced that America will slap Venezeula with “$7 billion in frozen assets and $11 billion in lost export proceeds.” Prior to Bolton’s announcement, Reuters projected that 2.3 million more people will flee Venezeula by the end of 2019. After his announcment, the country looked more like this:

via GIPHY

Conveniently enough, the embargo was placed just in time for the countdown to the next government shutdown to begin.

2. Jim Zeigler
Who knew that Alabama auditor Jim Zeigler was such a fashionista? Well, he taught the world a thing or two as he (as the Kweens say), “Read Kyrsten Sinema to filth.” Mr. GQ Himself dragged the freshman Arizona senator for her sense of style in a scathing Facebook post.

The Alabama official posted a picture of the congressperson with a caption: “What newly elected AZ Democrat Kyrsten Sinema wore to work.” Using the good ol’ post-and-delete-technique, Zeigler claimed that Sinema was “inappropriately attired.” Apparently, Zeigler is not a fan of boots with a dress.

Perhaps next time, Ms. Sinema should raid the auditor’s closet for these gems:

1. Tom Homan
Last is certainly not least crazy this week. Former ICE Director Tom Homan stopped by FOX & Friends to complain the Democrats using statistics to debunk Trump’s crazy insistence on a border wall. The former ICE Director’s answer? Do what he used to do. Listen to Trump.

Homan suggested that the Democrats should spend “less time trying to poke holes in what the president is saying and help the president secure the border.” He thinks they should watch real experts such as himself on channels like Fox News. As the Director-turned-TV-star stated, “You guys talk to experts. You talk to border patrol agents on the front line.”

And no Trump marionette show would be complete without a twinge of sexism. Homan further pleaded his case to become “America’s Next Top Toolbag” by calling Nancy Pelosi “disgusting.” Of course, the crowd cheered in approval, and Homan earned his pay for one more week. Perhaps next week, he’ll punch his ticket for a return to This Week in Crazy!

IMAGE: Matt Bevin (R-KY) speaks to a gathering at FreePAC Kentucky in Louisville, April 5, 2014. REUTERS/John Sommers II