It’s understandable that campaign watchers are keeping a close eye on the 2016 cycle, especially with two competitive presidential nominating races heating up. But let’s not forget that in the foreground, 2015 is an election year, too, at least in some states.
In just over a month, voters in Kentucky, Louisiana, and Mississippi will vote in gubernatorial elections, and though each of these are widely seen as Southern “red” states, the contests aren’t exactly going Republicans’ way.
Take Kentucky, for example, where the Lexington Herald-Leader published some surprising news late yesterday.
The Republican Governors Association has stopped running TV ads for Matt Bevin with a little more than a month to go in Kentucky’s competitive governor’s race. […]The move is a big blow for Bevin, who has aired just one TV ad of his own after spending more than $1 million of his personal fortune to win a four-way Republican primary in May. And it comes one week after [Kentucky’s Democratic state Attorney General, Jack Conway] began airing a series of TV ads titled “In his own words” that splice together clips of Bevin contradicting himself on issues including education, agriculture, taxes and health care.Whenever Conway aired a new ad over the summer, the RGA would usually respond. But not this time.
An RGA spokesperson told the Associated Press that the move is normal given “multiple governor’s races” the group has to plan for. That’s very hard to believe – there are only three gubernatorial elections this year, and Mississippi’s isn’t competitive and requires no party spending.
Indeed, what’s striking about developments like these is the degree to which they can’t be spun. For the party, either the investment is there or it’s not. Republican officials are either confident of success or they’re quietly expecting failure.
In some cases, sure, a party pulls its spending because the preferred candidate is up by such a large margin, victory is assured, but given what we know, the only reason the Republican Governors Association would pull back on its Kentucky investments is that the party doesn’t want to throw good money after bad.
For his part, Bevin, a deeply odd choice for the statewide race, doesn’t appear to be handling the pressure well. Last week, the far-right Republican, who’s never held elected office, personally visited a Democratic Party’s headquarters in Frankfort and yelled at a receptionist about a campaign billboard he didn’t like.
A little further south, Louisiana’s gubernatorial race hasn’t spent much time on the political world’s radar, but it’s getting interesting, too.
A new national Public Policy Polling survey of Louisiana voters finds that David Vitter has seen a large decline in his popularity over the last year, and that while he’s still favored to make the runoff for Governor he is in a bad position when it comes to a head to head match-up with John Bel Edwards.
A Baton Rouge Advocate/WWL-TV poll released yesterday also showed a competitive race.
Vitter, of course, is the controversial far-right U.S. senator, widely assumed to be the prohibitive favorite in the gubernatorial race, right up until these latest polls were released. If he loses, the Louisiana Republican will remain in the Senate and will be able to run for re-election next year.