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Massachusetts Senate race echo of 1994 KY race?

by Joe Arnold


Posted on January 19, 2010 at 4:05 PM

Updated Monday, Jan 18 at 11:43 PM

Kentuckians are weighing in on today's intensely watched U.S. Senate special election in Massachusetts for the seat vacated by the death of Sen. Edward Kennedy.

Local Republicans are champing at the bit at the prospect of a victory by Republican Scott Brown, which could give Republicans enough Senate votes to filibuster Democratic legislation.  A GOP victory might also serve as a precursor to a conservative backlash in the fall elections.

Though polls show the Massachusetts race is a dead-heat, The Jefferson County Republican Party and Kentucky Young Republicans are planning a "celebration" at the Fox and Hound Pub and Grill in Louisville.

Politico compares the Massachusetts election to Kentucky's special Congressional election in May of 1994, in which the victory by underdog Kentucky Republican Ron Lewis served as an "early warning signal for the GOP landslide later that year that swept in a Republican Congress."

Like Kennedy's Senate seat, Lewis' 2nd District seat had been in Democratic control for generations (Democrat U.S. Rep. William Natcher alone served 41 years.  Until Lewis, the seat had been held by a Democrat since the Civil War.  Republican Brett Guthrie kept the Second District in Republican control when he succeeded Lewis in 2008).

From Politico:

John McCarthy, a former Kentucky GOP chairman who worked on the Lewis campaign, said Scott Brown's approach in Massachusetts mirrors Lewis's. Back then, Lewis focused on federal issues in his campaign against Democratic state Sen. Joe Prather - in particular, he hammered Clinton over taxes.

"The race was all about the federal debate," said McCarthy. "There are a lot of similarities in terms of how the federal policy decisions are impacting the debate."

As in the Massachusetts special election, the backdrop for the Kentucky race was a first-term Democratic president attempting to push health care legislation through a reluctant Congress.

"We've seen this movie before," said Scott Jennings, a GOP strategist in Kentucky, drawing parallels to Massachusetts. "A Democratic president pushing an overwhelmingly unpopular health care plan leads to a Republican special election victory in a place held by Democrats for 129 years. "

But even the Kentucky comparison has its limits, with McCarthy noting that, unlike Coakley - who will have Obama campaign for her Sunday - Prather barely mentioned Clinton's name during the final two weeks on the campaign trail.

And here's the news release from local Republicans:


Young Conservatives to Join in a Watch Party to Celebrate the 41st GOP Senator

The Kentucky Young Republicans will join with local Louisville area Republicans to celebrate the historic senate election in Massachusetts.  The addition of Massachusetts Republican Scott Brown to the Senate will be the crucial 41st vote to bring checks and balances back to Washington.  The results of this race could signal what could be a very positive election season for Republicans locally, statewide and nationally this November.  Members of the Young Republicans have worked hard to help Scott Brown and will use the momentum gained on campaigns this fall.

The event is open to the public and many local candidates have been invited.  Polls in Massachusetts close at 8 PM

WHO: Kentucky Young Republican Federation, Louisville Young Republicans, and Local Republicans

WHAT: Massachusetts Senate Election Night Watch Party and 2010 GOP Comeback Kickoff

WHEN: Tuesday, January 19, 7:00 PM

WHERE: Fox and Hound Pub & Grille, 302 Bullitt Lane, Louisville, KY 40222

The Young Republicans (YRs) are the oldest political youth organization in the United States.  Important to the growth of the Republican Party, the YRs reach out to registers Republicans, 18-40 years of age and provide them with better political knowledge and understanding of the issues of the day.