March 3, 2024

rise of Beshear and fall of Youngkin

Today’s Events in Historical Perspective                                                                     
America’s Longest-Running Column Founded 1932
The rise of Beshear and fall of Youngkin
By Douglas Cohn and Eleanor Clift         
          WASHINGTON — One door closed and another opened. That’s the wonder of politics when the people speak through the ballot box.
          In Virginia, the voters put a hard stop on the political rise of Republican Governor Glenn Youngkin. The former financial equity executive had staked his political future on his ability to flip the Virginia Senate and hold the House of Delegates for the GOP.
          He failed on both counts, dooming his promise to enact a 15-week abortion ban. He ran into a buzzsaw of opposition from voters. He adjusted the wording, calling it a 15-week “limit” as opposed to a ban, but voters weren’t fooled.
          Youngkin had been touted as a possible last-minute entry into the GOP presidential primary race if he could find the magic formula for Republicans to talk about abortion.
          Those hopes are dashed, at least for the time being. Youngkin can only serve one term in Virginia, and the GOP’s legislative losses mean he cannot enact the conservative agenda he was promising the voters. His big dreams are over, and the dreams that GOP donors had for him are pretty much over too.
          What Youngkin and his Republican colleagues do not fully comprehend is that the fight over reproductive rights is about more than abortion. It is about human rights, women’s rights, and the freedom from having government impose its will in a personal matter.
          In Kentucky, the voters elevated a new rising star for the Democrats. His name is Andy Beshear, and he won a second term as governor in a state that Donald Trump carried by 26 points in 2020. That feat alone makes him something of a superhero.
          His father was a two-term governor in Kentucky before his son, and the family is political royalty. Beshear’s challenger, Attorney General Daniel Cameron, a rising star in his own right, acknowledged in his TV ads that Beshear is a “nice guy,” a nod to the popularity he and his family enjoy in the state.
          But it was more than niceness that carried Beshear across the finish line. He campaigned relentlessly on the 220 projects in Kentucky made possible by $5.2 billion from the bipartisan infrastructure bill enacted by the Biden administration. When President Biden visited Kentucky to inaugurate the construction of a new bridge connecting Kentucky to the Cincinnati suburbs of Ohio, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., was there along with Beshear.
          The event symbolized the bipartisan spirit at the heart of how Beshear governs. He never mentions Biden’s name, because the president is toxic in Kentucky as a national Democrat. But their policies are identical, and if it were not for the infrastructure bill Biden championed, Beshear would not have had as much to boast about as he ran for reelection.
          Oh, and did we mention Beshear is pro-life. How did he run on the abortion issue? He ran as an aggressive opponent of the kind of extremism that has captured the Republican Party on this issue. An ad featured a young woman who says she was raped as a child by her stepfather, and that she opposes a GOP law that would prohibit victims of rape and incest from getting an abortion. “I was twelve,” she says.
          Beshear is the definition of a mainstream Democrat, and he is young, turning 46 this month, so he is in no rush to start thinking about a White House run – maybe.
          Eleanor Clift’s latest book Selecting a President, and Douglas Cohn’s latest books The President’s First Year: The Only School for Presidents Is the Presidency and World War 4: Nine Scenarios (endorsed by seven flag officers).
          Twitter:  @douglas_cohn
          © 2023 U.S. News Syndicate, Inc.
          Distributed by U.S. News Syndicate, Inc.

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