Watch your back, Andy Beshear
by Tom Sullivan
The week’s election tumult is not over yet. There is more to come in Louisiana and for Kentucky’s presumptive Gov.-elect, Democrat Andy Beshear.
Aaron Rupar of Vox early this morning posted this from Donald (President of the United States) Trump‘s Louisiana rally Wednesday night. He appeared in advance of Saturday’s gubernatorial runoff between Republican Eddie Rispone, a Baton Rouge businessman, and John Bel Edwards, Democratic the incumbent. The two were the top candidates in the state’s Oct. 12 “jungle primary.”
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) November 7, 2019
“Does this seem like a person who should be in a position of power to you?” It was a rhetorical question.
Rupar later tweeted, “Minutes after denigrating Louisiana for having the country’s highest murder rate, Trump asks his fans if they’re tired of winning.” Trump posed the question one day after his gubernatorial candidate, incumbent Gov. Matt Bevin, narrowly lost reelection in Kentucky to Attorney General Andy Beshear, and after Democrats won full control of the Virginia legislature. Like Bevin, Rispone “has tried to appeal to voters by fashioning himself in the image of Mr. Trump.” Whether Trump‘s appearance will work for Rispone after failing Bevin on Tuesday we will find out Saturday.
Across the highest-profile races, Democrats benefited from two trends favoring them in metro areas: high turnout in urban cores that have long been the party’s strongholds, and improved performance in white-collar suburban areas that previously leaned Republican.
“When Trump was elected, there was an initial rejection of him in the suburbs,” says Jesse Ferguson, a Virginia-based Democratic strategist. “We are now seeing a full-on realignment.”
In that way, the GOP’s losses again raised the stakes for Republicans heading into 2020. In both message and agenda, Trump has reoriented the Republican Party toward the priorities and grievances of non-college-educated, evangelical, and nonurban white voters. His campaign has already signaled that it will focus its 2020 efforts primarily on turning out more working-class and rural white voters who did not participate in 2016.
That is a vast pool of nonvoters Democrats are also targeting for 2020 turnout efforts. But Trump‘s strategy — or should we say affinity for? — mobilizing around white identity politics as a response to the nation’s increasingly diverse population has limits both demographic and geographic. There are only so many rural white voters. They live in hard-to-reach places. The more rural states are, the more likely statewide races hinge on turnout in populations centers where Trump and his MAGA cult are losing ground.
All the more reason Republicans have taken to rigging the game any which way they can. Kentucky’s presumptive Gov.-elect Andy Beshear should watch his back for legislative trickery in the lame duck session before power changes hands. Bevin may take the race to “a showdown in the State Legislature.” We know something about that sort of thing in North Carolina. They know about it in Wisconsin and Michigan too.
After nearly a decade of lost legal battles over state and federal legislative districts, the Republican-controlled legislature in North Carolina is under court order to redraw the state’s congressional districts yet again. A three-judge state panel ruled North Carolina’s voters would not exit the decade having not voted once in constitutional districts. The court issued an injunction last week against using the 2016 congressional map in 2020.
Still, recidivist GOP legislators have yet to “come to Jesus” on respecting popular democracy. Expecting to lose an appeal in the state Supreme Court, Republicans began working on new drafts.
Stephen Wolf of Daily Kos Elections was watching:
This is the congressional map that North Carolina Republicans just saved ahead of wrapping up for the day. I can tell just from looking at it that the Sandhills gets completely cracked & it will likely mean an 8-5 GOP majority delegation instead of 7-6 R or 7-6 D #NCGA #NCpol pic.twitter.com/Hx2clWne2y
— Stephen Wolf (@PoliticsWolf) November 6, 2019
Those “crinkly bits” in the NC-3 yellow area probably won’t pass muster in terms of district “compactness” and will likely change. But wherever they can push an undemocratic advantage, the Party of Trump will, then push back against the pushback.
So, watch your back, Andy Beshear.