• 57°

Kirk Kovach: Are Kentucky, Louisiana races signs for Cooper?

By Kirk Kovach

In the past few weeks, Democrats have seen a number of positive outcomes in elections where a typical Republican ought to run away with victory.

Louisiana, Mississippi and Kentucky each held their gubernatorial contests this year, and all three are states where Donald Trump won with relative ease. They’re firmly in the Republican column in terms of national elections.

But Democratic candidates in two of the three states were able to win. In Kentucky, terribly unpopular incumbent Republican Gov. Matt Bevin conceded defeat to his challenger, Democrat Andy Beshear. It continued a decades-long trend of one-term Republican governors in a reliably red state.

In no small part, the incumbent contributed to his own demise. Bevin conducted himself in a brash way, making more enemies than necessary and generally rubbing people the wrong way. He molded himself as a Trumpish figure, but the problem with running as Trump is that nobody but Trump can do it.

In Louisiana, the circumstances were flipped. Gov. John Bel Edwards faced re-election. A Democrat, he won in an upset race in 2015 and was considered by many a fluke governor.

But in last week’s contest, he put any doubts to rest, winning by three points over Republican challenger Eddie Rispone. Rispone benefited from a handful of visits from the president as well as a personal fortune to pour into the race.

Alas, he fell short.

In the days leading up to these elections, and certainly in the days following, there have been plenty of analyses and suggestions about why Beshear or Edwards were able to win. Unsurprisingly, most of the arguments you read about it in larger publications try to draw conclusions about how these results augur for the presidential contest in 2020.

Though they are certainly data points and possible indicators, the real upshot is for statewide contests next year, particularly Gov. Roy Cooper’s re-election bid.

All politics is local, or so said Tip O’Neill, longtime speaker of the House. Though a menagerie of variables affect races on a statewide scale, there are two in particular that warrant mention.

First, in Kentucky: Incumbent Gov. Matt Bevin made enemies of plenty people, but in particular the Kentucky teachers. All throughout the past year, teachers went on strike over proposed budgets that reduced public education funding. Bevin also made a number of somewhat snide remarks about the striking teachers, and the Republican-led Kentucky House of Representatives passed resolutions condemning his remarks.

In Louisiana, the incumbent had a positive record to run on. In his first term, Edwards accepted the Medicaid expansion provided by the federal government under the Affordable Care Act. Studies show that, while many states saw a slight uptick in the uninsured rate, Louisiana halved the number of people without coverage in the three years after expansion.

These issues are not unique to Louisiana or Kentucky. In fact, Cooper has been in the middle of the fight over both in North Carolina. The past few months, Cooper and the Republican leaders in the General Assembly have been at an impasse in budget negotiations. Neither side can agree on a middle ground for teacher pay raises. That’s resulted in a stalemate for now.

On Medicaid expansion, Cooper has also faced opposition. The governor wants a clean expansion, accepting the coverage for hundreds of thousands of North Carolinians.

As written, expansion would be cost-neutral for the state; the federal government covers 90% and health care providers pick up the rest. That’s on top of economic benefits from a healthier workforce, and thousands of new jobs created in and around the health care industry.

If the Kentucky and Louisiana gubernatorial contests are indicators, the winning side of these issues on both counts is Cooper. If he wins reelection, odds of success will rest more on whether he has an amenable legislature for once in his tenure.

Kirk Kovach is from Rowan County and writes for politicsnc.com.



City fights invasive beetles by injecting trees with insecticide


City names downtown recipients for federal Parks Service grant

China Grove

China Grove Town Council weighs 2021-22 budget priorities, supports buying body cameras


Educators reflect on Teacher Appreciation Week


Livingstone College wins $30,000 Home Depot grant




Shield-A-Badge With Prayer program enters 26th year, accepting volunteers to pair with officers


COVID-19 infection, quarantine numbers in Rowan-Salisbury Schools reach new highs

High School

High school football: Offensive line came together for Hornets, who play for state title tonight


Pro baseball: White makes pro debut and says, ‘It felt amazing to be out there’


West Rowan Middle eighth grader wins investment writing contest


YSUP Rowan invites agencies to participate in youth-focused training


US backs waiving intellectual property rules on vaccines


As demand drops, Cooper visits vaccine clinic to urge usage


NC lawmakers advance bill barring mandatory COVID-19 shots


N.C. bill banning Down syndrome abortions nears floor vote


Rowan County sees 301st death from COVID-19


N.C. lawmakers advance bill barring mandatory COVID-19 shots


Rowan Public Library joins initiative to help people with digital connectivity


Mocksville to dissolve police department


Blotter: May 5


Salisbury’s McElroy named top city, county communications professional in state


Locals condemn use of force during 2019 traffic stop of Georgia woman


Back and better than ever: Cannon Ballers kick off inaugural season in Atrium Health Ballpark