Let’s have one last post mortem for Progress Kentucky and then put them to bed.
The other day, Progress Kentucky put out a racist tweet attacking Mitch McConnell’s wife. This caused some serious backlash (as it should) and a slew of national attention on McConnell’s reelection campaign.
Joe already buried the group over at the LEO:
In reality, those within the state familiar with Progress Kentucky knew they were never going to be a major player in this race, and now the national media is onto that fact. While Progress Kentucky says they will continue, you’ll have a hard time finding anyone who will now defend, support, and give them money. And it’s not like anyone was giving them money to begin with. They had only raised $4,000 online, and while they haven’t filed yet with the FEC, we have to doubt that they’ve managed to raise a great deal more than that.
And there’s not much more to say on the matter — but this: If the state Democratic Party was doing its job, there never would have been a space for Progress Kentucky to “fill.” National media time and again over the past three months have quoted PK as if they are (or, more correctly, were) a valid force.
As Joe detailed in his obit, this occurred in part because of the “hottness” of the race and the seeming seriousness of a group that called itself a “Super PAC.” That makes it sound legitimate in this day and age, so the Big Foots in DC and elsewhere ran with it.
But the other factor here is that PK was, over the past three months, the loudest voice “hammering” McConnell. Because of that, to an outside observer, they may have seemed like the front running anti-McConnell group.
In a sense, they were.
The Kentucky Democratic Party is a bit dysfunctional — to the point that many of their so-called experts have actually gone to the effort of arguing that the Party would be better off not fielding a candidate to run against McConnell rather than have a well-known candidate who polls hot on Mitch’s heels on the ballot against him.
But if Progress Kentucky’s messaging was amateur hour (and it undoubtedly, inexcusably was), the Kentucky Democratic Party’s messaging has been mostly nonexistent. As Joe’s pointed out time and again (here’s just one example), the KDP has failed to capitalize on opportunities Mitch has presented to them.
Because they have spent much of the past two, four, six years not seeking to chip away at the powerful (and politically adept) McConnell, they face an uphill battle getting going now. That’s not to say they can’t turn on their afterburners (does the KDP have those?), but it’s all the more difficult.
Their habitual reticence to take on the Senate Minority Leader — and the least popular Senator in the nation, with just 17% of the Commonwealth solidly behind him — is the greatest reason he would cruise to re-election. Blaming their woes on a potential Ashley Judd candidacy is simple transference.
This is not an ideological assessment. It’s just simple politics. You can’t beat a guy if you won’t attack him. If you go long stretches not trying to weaken an opponent when all opportunity is on the table, you have reason to be defeatist about the race.
Which is what the KDP has for so long been.
So now when you see KDP leaders whining a month ago that Ashley Judd hadn’t yet called them personally, and when KDP leaders argue that no candidate would be better than actually trying to win a race, you see a Party that’s got its priorities backward.
Progress Kentucky was a disorganized, undisciplined group before their racist tweet — the racist tweet just made it more obviously evident for anyone who hadn’t already realized it.
Because the KDP refused to take control of the messaging, it was left open to others to do so — and unfortunately that ended in a racist tweet.
The Kentucky Democratic Party may have squandered opportunity after opportunity over the past several years, that’s water under the bridge unless they, too, are disorganized and undisciplined as a group.
The real question of this wake is whether that Party can now do what any opposition Party would’ve already been doing. They’ll have to create and mobilize the groundwork in a hurry, but perhaps this has motivated them to finally do so.
Or they could just stick with their existing plan and run no one.