The Magazine

Their Own Worst Enemy

Kentucky's Republicans implode.

Oct 29, 2007, Vol. 13, No. 07 • By JOHN DAVID DYCHE
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A recent Courier-Journal poll put McConnell's approval rating at a respectable 54 percent despite months of attack ads and made-for-media street demonstrations by the pro-surrender left. McConnell's parliamentary skill has so effectively frustrated Senate Democrats that they yearn to knock him off, as Republicans did Tom Daschle. A formidable campaigner with a gift for hard-hitting but humorous attack ads, McConnell will make sure the race is more about his opponent and Hillary Clinton than it is about him.

After losing to Fletcher for governor, Chandler, the grandson of former governor, senator, and baseball commissioner A.B. "Happy" Chandler, beat McConnell's hand-picked candidate for the open congressional seat from which he now eyes the 2010 Senate race. Bunning says he will seek another term, but barely battled back from multiple missteps and not-so-subtle suggestions of senility in his last campaign. If the feisty baseball Hall of Famer heads for the showers, the likely frontrunners will be two GOP congressmen, Geoff Davis of northern Kentucky's Cincinnati exurbs and Ed Whitfield from the state's far west.

The Republican tide may have receded in Kentucky, but the commonwealth remains reliably to the right of center. But if the Bluegrass GOP hopes to rebound, it will have to more broadly emulate McConnell's consistent example of combining conservative policy with competent political execution.

John David Dyche is a Louisville lawyer and columnist for the Louisville Courier-Journal.