Last night, Kentucky served as our nation’s crucible for testing the political winds at the national level. Five term incumbent U.S Senator Mitch McConnell, with an unpopular President of the opposite party in the White House, seemed on the surface to have a significant advantage.
But public fatigue and cynicism seemed to be conspiring against Sen McConnell and made his seat more vulnerable than any time in his 30 years in the Senate.
Many good Democrats passed on challenging Sen McConnell. But one had the courage of her convictions —and a great deal of both courage AND convictions. And despite being a relative newcomer to Kentucky statewide politics, Alison Lundergan Grimes, had that special and indefinable quality. That “X” factor that makes people believe –and want to believe — more in her and her ability than her resume might suggest possible.
I was one of those people. I proudly supported Alison Lundergan Grimes and am proud —so proud– of the race she ran. She took on the most daunting political race in the entire United States of America this year and said, “Yeah, I want to take on this challenge. And I’m ready.” And she was as ready–more ready –than her harshest detractors ever imagined.
She fought the good fight for the right reasons –not because it was the “smart thing to do” but because it was what she felt compelled to do. People like Alison impress me. They run for the U.S Senate against the most powerful Senator in the nation and make the race the political touchstone for our nation. But that’s not why people like Alison Lundergan Grimes impress me. They impress me because people like Alison Lundergan Grimes change the world. She did a little bit this year. Almost a whole lot. And she will continue to change the world and make it a little bit better next year. And the year after that. And the year after that.
She is special and we all — especially all democrats in our state (and nation) owe her a great debt of gratitude tonight. I take my hat off to her to her. And I don’t even wear hats. Well done, Alison.
But Alison didn’t lose. Really, in my view, Sen Mitch McConnell won. No one is particularly fond of the deluge of non-stop political ads that is the battle field on which our political races these days are largely fought and determined. But both candidates did much more and gave up blood, sweat, toil and tears far greater than those silly commercials would ever indicate. This US Senate race was, on every conceivable level, one for the ages.
If this race started as largely a question as to whether 30 year incumbent Senator McConnell still had the fire in his belly, the answer by the time the polls opened this morning was a resounding and unequivocal yes! In fact, by September whether the “fire in the belly” still existed was no longer in dispute. It was now a question of whether it would become a conflagration. And looking at the vote totals tonight, I would say it did.
And congratulations to Sen McConnell on winning a record Kentucky six term tonight.
Elections settle things. Sort of. They sometimes feel in the heat of a campaign like an epic battle of good versus evil (depending on your party). But they aren’t really. They are usually two very talented, driven people of both integrity and goodwill who have very different ideas of how to solve the problems that face our nation, state or community. And only one can win.
Last night Senator McConnell won –again. And my nonexistent hat is tipped most respectfully to him. Well done, Senator. I may not have voted for you. But this campaign —and especially tonight — you earned my respect, again, and I wish you all the best as you start your sixth term —and I expect you to fight the good fight, in your own way as you earned the right to do so tonight, and fight for the state we both love deeply along with about four-and-a-half million other Kentuckians.
So, political races are about decisions. About endings. And about new beginnings.
And although elections seem mostly to be about the candidate who run for office, they are much more about us, the voting public.
A hard battle was waged and fought –and fought hard –and tonight we have a victor. And the voters, campaign workers, citizen activists, poll workers and politically indifferent citizens all —all have a newly elected US Senator.
In boxing, a sport we know a thing or two about in Kentucky, when the final bell of the last round rings the two gladiators lumber toward each other and hug and congratulate each other as a sign of mutual respect. The boxing audience, though still cheering for their favorite boxer, feels that same mutual respect. Likewise, political opponents do much the same thing on Election Day. And so should we the voters tonight.
Time to clear off our stadium seat, throw away our soft drink and bag of peanuts, put on our overcoat and head for the parking lot to find our car. And head home.
Until next time.