Deep thoughts, Kentucky Democrat-style. To be fair, it’s not easy for a party leader to acknowledge defeat on Election Night while trying not to demoralize the rank and file, especially when the pollsters had leaders believing they were cruising to victory. Jack Conway’s consistent five-point lead in the Kentucky gubernatorial race turned out to be an 8.7% win for Matt Bevin, though, and Kentucky’s House Speaker Greg Stumbo had to be a little shellshocked at the result.
Stumbo starts off by being defensive about Christian conservatives, and then launches into Biblical exegesis that …. well, as Mollie Hemingway writes, one has to see to believe:
He gave a speech that was striking for its odd content and rambling delivery. Flanked by state Reps. Martha Jane King and Jeff Greer, Stumbo discussed his thoughts on the political affiliation of Jesus and his view on what Scripture really is and how it influences politics.
“And the other thing I know is that if in fact the Bible is a book of parables, like I believe it is, think about this: Mary did not ride an elephant into Bethlehem that night,” he said to a restrained crowd. …
His mangled syntax reaches a climax at the end when he makes an allusion to Hillary Clinton:
“I believe there’s a horse out there. Not American Pharoah. It’s an Arkansas Traveler. And that horse is bringing a lady jockey and that horse and that jockey are going to come to Kentucky next year and help us rebuild this party,” he says.
Mollie lists a number of reactions on Twitter to this speech, but one of them picks up on a very bad piece of advice Stumbo offers his activists:
@KyDems Greg Stumbo says to go to church on Sunday and start a political argument with a republican.
— mark coultrap (@markcoultrap) November 4, 2015
Yes, nothing says “Christian” like picking political fights in church. Nothing says serious biblical discourse like a political commentary on Mary’s mode of transportation to Bethlehem, either. (Note: Mary did not need federal highway funds to get to Bethlehem, either! Eliminate the gas tax!) There is a legitimate debate among Christians about which aspects of faith should be prioritized in public policy; as a Catholic, I can attest that this is a broad split, probably more so than in other ecclesial communities. But if the argument is that Jesus was a carpenter and a teacher so He’d back unions, and that Mary rode a donkey so she’d vote Democrat, then the activists would either get laughed out of the chapel or enrolled in Remedial Exegesis 101. (Also, Jesus rode a donkey too, but Stumbo was pretty obviously winging it.)
During the rambling Stumbo sermon, King and Greer do their best to put a good face on the speech. Clearly, though, they’re wondering where Stumbo is going with these lectures on church etiquette. Perhaps they expected Stumbo to focus on the wins made by Democrats. Unfortunately, that wouldn’t have taken much time in the speech:
Matt Bevin became the first governor from Louisville in a century and Lt. Gov.-elect Jenean Hampton became the first African-American to win statewide office in Kentucky on Tuesday as Bevin led a near-Republican rout of state constitutional offices.
Democrat Jack Conway failed to roll up the large margin in Jefferson County he needed and couldn’t minimize losses elsewhere as Matt Bevin grabbed large margins throughout the rest of the state. Republicans followed suit in the races for treasurer, agriculture commissioner and auditor and won as well.
Other Democrats blamed Donald Trump for the loss, as Joel Pollak notes:
Democrats stunned by Matt Bevin’s victory in the race for Kentucky governor blamed “Trump-mania” for the Tea Party candidate’s unlikely 53%-44% win over Democrat Jack Conway.
“Attorney General Jack Conway ran a strong campaign focused on the issues that matter to Kentuckians: good schools, good-paying jobs and economic opportunity,” said Elisabeth Pearson, executive director of the Democratic Governors Association, in an official statement on the results.
Pearson added: “Unfortunately, he ran into the unexpected headwinds of Trump-mania, losing to an outsider candidate in the year of the outsider. While Jack Conway came up just short tonight, his presence in this race strengthened the issues debate in Kentucky.”
The year of the outsider? What does that say about the salvific power of the “Arkansas Traveler” and its “lady jockey,” who has spent the last 23 years in the stables of Washington DC?