Monday, January 26, 2009

Mongiardo Declares

Today, Lt. Gov. Dan Mongiardo of Kentucky announced that he is running for the Senate seat held by Republican Jim Bunning.

The conventional wisdom is that Mongiardo has a good shot to win. Running against Bunning in 2004, he came within 23,00 votes despite being an obscure state senator from Hazard. This time, Mongiardo will have a higher profile, be a more experienced campaigner and will have access to a ton of money from the Senate Democratic Campaign Committee.

That gives him a shot.

The conventional wisdom might be right here because Bunning is such an obvious target. I've seen Bunning speak. Known mostly as a Hall of Fame pitcher for the Phillies and a sharp-elbowed politician, the 77 year-old Bunning's political fastball is just as far gone as his brushback pitch. He made a fool of himself in 2004 by phoning in a debate and making denigrating remarks about Mongiardo (an Italian-American) looking like one of Saddam Hussein's sons.

And the expectation is that Bunning will make a fool of himself again.

At the same time, Mongiardo hasn't exactly proven that he's a big league political hitter while serving as lieutenant governor in the lackluster Beshear administration.

So, the question is whether Mongiardo has enough political talent to take on a guy who's fading as obviously as Bunning.

If Mongiardo gets the Democratic nomination, he'll have a good shot on the basis of turnout.

Mongiardo will get majorities in Louisville, Lexington, and rural Eastern Kentucky and he has a good shot at winning if he can inspire higher levels of off-year turn out in those areas.

That's because turnout most likely won't be that high in GOP strongholds. Bunning is the kind of guy who's almost impossible to get excited about and I don't think that preventing the Senate Democrats or defeating the relatively colorless Mongiardo is going to motivate Republican voters either.

Depressed Republican turnout hurt John McCain. It will kill Jim Bunning.


a said...

Mongiardo would have a better chance of securing the Democratic base if he would quit pandering to the coal industry. It's one thing not to side with environmentalists and community activists -- fine. But it's another to promote actively the senseless process of mountaintop removal coal mining. He is an embarrassment to the party and the state. This would definitely be a contest between "the lesser of two idiots."

Ric Caric said...

Well said. But I think it's safe to say that Bunning will emerge as the greater of the two idiots.