State and national elections have had interesting results

Column by Thomas Roberts

With the holidays over, campaigns are once again gearing up.

In Kentucky, we had two special elections on Tuesday. The outcomes were as expected: Republicans held a Republican seat in Northern Kentucky with Alecia Webb-Edgington’s victory over Democrat Dan Wolff. Democrat Sannie Overly defeated Republican Bryan Beauman in a very Democratic district.

However, Overly spent quite a bit of money to defeat her opponent. In addition to the newspaper ads and campaign literature that was to be expected, Overly had a television ad and several radio spots. The fact she was spending that much money on a state House race tells me that Beauman was perceived as a real threat.

An upcoming special election is for Lt. Gov. Daniel Mongiardo’s old Senate seat in Eastern Kentucky, in which Republican Brandon Smith will take on Democrat Scott Alexander. This race should be interesting: Smith has represented a significant portion of the Senate district as a state representative for the past several years. Moreover, Smith defeated Alexander in 2006 to win re-election to the House.

The yearlong presidential contest was finally put to voters in Iowa and New Hampshire.

For Republicans, Mike Huckabee surprisingly surged to victory in Iowa. With his folksy style and bumper sticker sayings, Huckabee, buoyed by his evangelical base, connected with enough voters to beat main rival Mitt Romney, who had spent millions in the race.

Then New Hampshire voters cast their ballots on Tuesday. John McCain won in the New Hampshire primary with Romney again placing second. Romney was able to win the Wyoming GOP vote, but nobody seemed to pay much attention.

In all three Republican races, supposed frontrunner Rudy Giuliani failed horribly. His strategy of waiting for other states may backfire as his name is mentioned merely as an afterthought now.

For the Democrats, Barack Obama surprised most pundits with a significant win in Iowa. The scale of his victory was surprising. However, he was not able to win New Hampshire even though most polls were predicting another victory. Instead, Hillary Clinton, the supposed invincible machine destined to be the Democratic nominee, pulled off an upset.

Most interesting in these two races is not that Obama and Clinton each won one. The big story is Clinton got third in Iowa, finishing behind Obama and John Edwards. While Edwards had spent significant time in Iowa for the past four years, the fact that he bested Clinton was unexpected.

Thus, while the national media has presented Giuliani and Clinton as the frontrunners for the past several months, the voters have started to speak, and there is no clear frontrunner at the present.

The debates are decreasing from 10 people on a stage to three or five. I, for one, will be glad when it is all said and done. Unfortunately, by the time Kentucky gets the chance to vote in May, the nominee will be known on both sides.

While the national races have received plenty of coverage from the media, there were a few developments in U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell’s re-election campaign. Namely, the “A Team” Democrats backed out.

Crit Luallen flirted with the idea of running but dropped it. Greg Stumbo repeatedly said that, after his poll, he would challenge McConnell if he were within 10 percentage points. Well, considering Stumbo is now heading back to the Kentucky General Assembly, I think we can all assume that his poll showed he had no chance of defeating McConnell.

So where does that leave the Democrats? For now, they have three candidates. Two of them are unknowns from Louisville. The Democrats’ best-known candidate statewide is David Lynn Williams, a man whom even his own party refuses to acknowledge.

Thomas Roberts is the president of UK College Republicans. E-mail [email protected].