House Outlook for 2008
Will the GOP Swing the Pendulum Back?
Kentucky (02) (Open Seat)
This race got interesting in January with a covert gambit that could have been torn from the pages of a—very wonky—spy novel. Republican Rep. Ron Lewis’ chief-of-staff, Daniel London, sent his wife to secretly file two sets of papers at the last minute before the candidate filing deadline. One set of papers withdrew Lewis’ name from the ballot, while the other added London’s. Lewis later called the move a ”mistake” as national GOPers threw their support behind equally crafty state senator Brett Guthrie who had been tipped off and was able to narrowly beat the filing deadline. After news of the ploy broke, London eventually withdrew and Guthrie won the party nod unopposed.
On the Democratic side, the primary began and ended with much fewer fireworks, and state senator David Boswell won the nomination on May 20, setting up a high-caliber general election matchup. Both candidates have solid political pedigrees, but Guthrie’s lack of a primary has led to a large cash advantage, with Guthrie holding $380,000 to Boswell’s $16,000. This gap and the district’s Republican preference—it voted 65 percent for Bush in 2004—gives Guthrie and the GOP the initial edge.
Outlook: Leans Democratic
May 27, 2008 Update:
Voters in Kentucky’s 3rd district will be treated to a rematch of the 2006 congressional race, with Democratic Rep. John Yarmuth switching roles with Republican ex-Rep. Anne Northup. Yarmuth’s advantages are his incumbency, a $300,000 cash on hand advantage, and an anti-GOP electorate. Northup on the other hand has plenty of experience and over half a million dollars in the bank. To add even more excitement to round two of this battle, the two candidates will be competing in a district that could go for either party in the upcoming presidential election.
Former Representative Anne Northrup’s political skills certainly haven’t rusted in since Representative John Yarmuth won her seat in the Democratic wave of 2006. Since then, she challenged and lost against sitting governor Ernie Fletcher in a 2007 primary, and as of January announced a repeat bid against her congressional successor. Her entrance was prompted by the surprise exit of Personnel Cabinet secretary Erwin Roberts and marks a strong challenge to the freshman Yarmuth. To ensure a rematch Northrup must dispatch with primary opposition from developer Chris Thieneman and Bob DeVore.
Northrup is the strongest challenger Yarmuth could have faced, but the district is trending Democratic beneath her feet. This election will determine the future of two strong-willed Kentucky politicians. Either Yarmuth will segue to a long Congressional career or Northrup’s political career will be redeemed after consecutive losses in 2006 and 2007.